Posted On: 11/01/2009
Nothing turns St. Louisí independent music devotees misty-eyed like talking about Frederickís Music Lounge, the South City house of cool that shuttered its doors in 2006. The abrupt closing was a sock in the gut to underground music fans, who were left without a cold can of Stag beer or a proper venue in which to enjoy it. Three years is a long time to wait for an encore, but itís finally here. Fred Friction, the man himself, has joined forces with the owners of popular South City eatery Iron Barley to resurrect the magic in a new venue, Fredís Six Feet Under, which has been hosting eager crowds since opening earlier this year. Fredís is the real deal; a music-loverís dream. No frills. No pretension. Just good music and cold drinks in a gritty, intimate setting.
Located literally six feet under Iron Barley in the basement of the restaurant, Fredís is a subterranean confluence of chain-smoking hipsters, middle-aged couples, neighborhood regulars, bikers, secretaries, college kids Ė anyone and everyone who can pack themselves into the low-ceilinged space. The look: Imagine a small music area set up in the back corner of your grandparentsí old unfinished basement. Now throw in a dozen or so high-top chairs, a few tables, a couch, music posters, a deer head on the wall, random memorabilia strewn about, and boom, youíre there. The cavernous Ė and I do mean cavernous Ė space looks to fit about 60 or so people. On nice evenings, bands occasionally forgo the underground venue and congregate on the outside patio. There, a makeshift stage adjoins a small beer garden with its own fully stocked bar.
Downstairs, thirsty patrons are tended to from a small bar near the entrance (again about the size your grandpa would have had). Once inside, itís easy to see this isnít the type of place to get fancy, especially when it comes to booze; order yourself a stiff little highball to start if you feel the need, but Fredís is much more of a cheap beer joint. Think Stag and/or PBR.
The doors creak open at 5 every weekend night (open mic on Thursdays) as the bands prep the stage for 10 oíclock shows. A $5 cover gets you in. On stage, local and touring acts brought in by Friction strum out original sounds into the late hours. Blues, country, bluegrass and rock are mixed and matched. The noise reverberates throughout the tiny cellar, pounding through the air, filling every nook. The crowd nods their heads to the beat, pausing every now and then to take a pull off a drink or a cigarette. Exhales of smoke form a fog that lingers on the low ceiling, catching the dim light. In the back, a bartender does a shot of rye with a curious walk-in from upstairs.
Hats off to whoever decided to match Iron Barley with Fredís. Itís an ideal combination. Smart, laid-back comfort food upstairs and a hip, underground late-night club to relax in downstairs. I could think of worse ways to spend a weekend night.
STL AFTER DARK
Check it:†Underground music club with cheap drinks and serious tunes.†††††††††
Hipster or Hoosier:†Independent music fans, Iron Barley patrons, bikers, yuppies, South City regulars.
Suds or ĎTinis: Ice-cold bottles of Stag and PBR and a whiskey, neat.
Where: Fredís Six Feet Under, 5510 Virginia Ave.,
When: Thu. to Sat. Ė 5 p.m. to midnight
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