Monday, July 26, 2010

Rudy's Last Show

(Rudy's outdoor sign. Photo by Caren Parmelee)

This Saturday, July 31st marks the final original location show at downtown New Haven's favorite Townie and Yalie dive bar, Rudy's. Included on the bill will be Connecticut's own The Black Noise Scam and Nasty Disaster as well as New York's The Boardlords.

The first show I remember seeing at Rudy's was the Butterflies of Love in 2001. At that point there was no stage, no outside patio and only a rudimentary sound system at best (and yes, you could still smoke inside). Bands would often have to shift tables and chairs around just to find room to play. By 2002, a stage was added as well as a relative upgrade to the sound system thus clearing the way for more and more music to come through. There were full on rock shows on Thursdays, Saturdays and the occasional Sunday, jazz on Tuesdays and DJs on other nights of the week. Several great shows occurred during this time including bands like The Wrens, The Dirty Projectors, The Dresden Dolls, Sasquatch and the Sick-A-Billys, Suckers and more, as well as a slew of great locals like The Vultures, The Battlecats, Diamond J and the Rough and countless others.

(Rudy's stage area. Photo by Caren Parmelee)

In addition to the influx of shows, Rudy's reputation as the dive bar of choice for both Townies and Yalies only strengthened. There were very few weekends when the bar/venue was not packed to the gills with every walk of New Haven life imaginable. There were regular pseudo-celebrity watches as well ('That's Janeane Garafalo!,' 'I think that guy you just played pool with is in Interpol'). And the frites, they were sublime.

Fast forward to 2010.

By this point show nights at Rudy's were cut down to Saturdays (and the rare Sunday) only. Many regulars had also by this point long accused owner Omer Ipek (who took over earlier in the decade) of pandering exclusively to Yale patrons. Gone were the old jukebox and at least some of the character that many of the older clientele revered. Flat screen TVs began popping out of every corner. The sound system was again in need of an upgrade. Some had begun to actively avoid the bar deeming it 'not the same as used to be,' only to be replaced by the newest generation of Rudy's dwellers who didn't care what it used to be. Others continued their usual Rudy's ritual undeterred.

(The Black Noise Scam will be appearing at Rudy's last show at its original location on July 31st.)

Still, no one imagined Rudy's ever going away. The frites were still good, the beer still cheap and the walls were still crowded with pictures of the bygone Rudy's faithful. Its existence at 372 Elm Street seemed as much a part of the New Haven landscape as East Rock or Pepe's Pizza. No matter what changes New Haven was undergoing, Rudy's was an oasis of continuity, music and beer (...established 1934!). That's why when this article in the New Haven Independent dropped on the morning of June 22nd, people were dumbstruck. Rudy's? Moving??? The backlash was immediate and severe. From the NH Independent comments section: 'I am pretty sure that this is the kind of sign that proves the world will end in 2012,' 'This is so horrifying,' 'I am devastated to hear this news,' and on and on. Immediately rumors began swirling that Yale was forcing Rudy's out or that owner Omer Ipek was only completing the latest chapter in an alleged diabolical scheme to ruin the bar. Truth be told, Ipek had secretly been battling with the landlord who owned the building for over a year. At one point Ipek even fought off an attempt by the landlord to close the bar with only days notice. After some quick thinking and dealings on Ipek's part, he was able to secure a new location for Rudy's close by at 1227 Chapel Street (just a couple blocks down Howe Street) while keeping the bar open at its current location until the end of July. And with a promise that the new location will have many of the elements of the old as well as a bigger and better area for bands, some of the detractors even began to change their tune.

In the end though, Rudy's move from Elm Street will surely be the end of an era for many of the generations who have come through its doors. Savor it while you can.


Rudy's final show at its original Elm Street location will be occurring this Saturday, July 31st with locals The Black Noise Scam (full-on hardcore punk) and Nasty Disaster (metal heads galore) as well as the Boardlords (NYC punk). The Black Noise Scam recently joined the roster of Volatile Records (also home to the Boardlords) and will be releasing their next record sometime later this year. I can think of no better way to end the Rudy's long and illustrious run on Elm Street than a good ole' punk show.

p.s. And for those of you looking to take home a souvenir this Saturday, think again. Rudy's owner Omer Ipek has taken great care to strip the bar of almost everything short of the benches and bar stools in fear of thievery (he will be apparently transferring everything over to the new location this summer).


Saturday July 31st


@ Rudy's
372 Elm Street / New Haven
9:30pm / 21+ / $3 cover

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