Juke of Churls 

The Bar: Subway

I have no doubt, and I know you don’t either, that music can make or break a bar experience. And it’s not just a question of good music versus bad music, oh no no. You need the right music at the right time at the right volume to really make your drinking time come alive — and the wrong one of any of those can really fucking kill the mood. Like if you’re needing to ROCK OUT and someone puts on Elliott Smith, or if you’re having a romantic chit-chat and ‘Fat Bottom Girls’ comes on and the bartender cranks it up or something. Music creates the context for your evening, and every bar’s jukebox is critical to its success. The intangible ambiance of a place is, in my estimation, at least 50 percent music. I mean, there’s a reason that bars advertise which DJs play which nights, right?

But for bars with completely customer-selected music, the choices people are offered create the whole playlist. What I mean is that it isn’t enough to have lots of good songs to choose from, it’s equally important to not have lots of bad songs. Because, face it, when drunk we tend to make stupid choices in music, which is fine at parties where everybody’s drunk at the same time, but at bars, where many differently paced drinkers all share the same space, it can be a nightmare. Which is why I was so distressed the other night.

While waiting for friends to show up for dinner at DuMont (Metropolitan and Union), I sat myself down at the nearest bar I could find, which just happened to be the Subway bar (right outside the Lorimer stop). They had this digital jukebox contraption that could access a frazillion songs online. Have you seen these around? All the bars that have these gizmos both have assloads of songs available (many of which are bad) and also all have the same song selection. Even worse, there’s also a feature where, if you pay a little extra, you can get your song bumped to the front of the line. Jukebox cuts! This is the worst idea ever.

In the short time I was there, the bartender had to reset the machine because of the number of ‘Freebirds’ lined up in a row. True story. I have seen the future and it is terrible, my friends. Something must be done!


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