“That’s me in the corner, that’s me in the spotlight”
That place, that place right at the corner is Detroit Bar. It shares the asphalt with a superstore and a laundrymat, but might as well own the entire parking lot on a good night. And that’s what Detroit bar is reknown for; for putting pretty-damn good nights.
This ostensibly unpretentious locale is responsible for some memorable, fun and absurd nights of my life. I won’t revisit them now, but I’ll tell you why I’m nostalgic about Detroit Bar today.
Orange County has the bad reputation of being too mellow, and home to a toothless youth. That can be blamed on the clean streets, unpolluted beaches and breathable air; but behind the appearances, we always had issues being worked on at the scruffy corner of Federal and 19th St. This was our trench away from the sane sameness.
I went to UC Irvine, and at the time, nothing felt more rebellious than to smoke a cigarette in the cage by the door at Detroit Bar. Nothing contrasted better to the Irvine life than coming to Costa Mesa for live music, drinks and a healthy intake of second hand toxins.
When I imagine what it will be like once the new owners take over, I imagine clean tables, clean floors and no-smoking signs. My heart is getting sick to the stomach just thinking about it.
Detroit Bar is responsible for some of the most resounding nights of my life, including amazing concerts, drunken stories and WTF moments, and the best part is that most times it was for free. This place is my CBGB, and I’m watching it go away, as it should be, with a “Grand Finale” concert.
However, this isn’t a valentine to my favorite OC bar; this is a middle finger in the air to a friend who is going away. Because when you say goodbye to the trenches, you talk about the one time, during an Aloe Blacc concert, when a crowd surfing girl dropkicked you with boots, and gave you a bloody nose. Yes, that was fun. F-you, D., I’m going to miss your troubled artist temperament.
On another good night, Joel Pott of the band Athlete told me point-blank to “put the camera down and fucking enjoy the music” Ever since, whenever I’m at a concert, his words come to mind, “…enjoy the music.”
Yet, the longer list are the new-names witnessed here and how we came of age watching them become household names. Bands like Young the Giant, Venus Infers, The New Limb, Jeramiah Red, The Spell, Robert Jon & The Wreck, This Time with Feeling, Randsburg, Tapioca & the Flea, Well Hung Heart and so many more, made me realize that the OC has a wild beating heart, and it only needed the right venue to bring it to life.
Tonight, as the velvet curtains call, and we see that iconic Detroit Bar metal sign one last time, I hope the place is packed, and that many of us leave unceremoniously. I’m sure we’ll forget some of the things that happened here, but I truly wish that the attitude this place represented never fades.