What seemed at first to be a dicey proposition -- put a hipster bar in a neighborhood where few hipsters live -- has now proven to be gold. Since opening last October, the spacious Hemlock Tavern has become a beacon for jean-jacketed, bedheaded coolios who like to toss back a few drinks, eyeball each other's duds, and check out some great music by bands they've never heard of. Thanks to a very open-minded booking policy, the Hemlock's 55-person-capacity performance space has offered everything from the symphonic pop of the Shimmer Kids to the raucous garage tunes of the Flakes to the metal madness of Thunderbleed aka Blind Vengeance. It's a fair bet you'll find something of quality any night of the week, be it the twisted pop of the Foibles, the raunchy rock of Killer's Kiss, or the vaudevillian oddness of the semiregular "Unnatural Acts" showcase. The tavern also features some terrific -- and free -- DJ nights, including the Sunday afternoon country show hosted by DJ Blaze Orange and Monday night's "Punk Rock Sideshow" featuring Kut 'n Paste and the Duchess of Hazard. All this beautiful ruckus and gratis bags of warm peanuts, too.
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The Hemlock music/performance room is a physically separate and (more or less) soundproof space from the rest of the bar. While it's always free to get into the bar itself, there is almost always a cover charge to enter the music room. We'd describe it as "intimate". Or even "cozy". But certainly not "cavernous". Personally, we think it sounds great in there. Maybe even awesome, dude. Objectively, it's one of the best rooms in the city for experiencing live music. (www.hemlocktavern.com)