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Music

This is beautiful. What is that, Velvet?

I must admit, I was adamantly against the name change.  Before the hurricanes, One Eyed Jacks was elegantly known as The Shim Sham Club. Nestled in the French Quarter on Toulouse, seemingly around the corner from everything, the surprisingly large red velvet-lined venue hosted a variety of events, from concerts by up-and-coming bands to burlesque shows.

Until a couple of years ago, I still referred to it as The Shim Sham Club, partially out of habit, but mostly because, as a fifteen year old, it was a monolithic representation of the amazing adventures that awaited me upon reaching majority. Shim Sham was the place all the best bands played – the ones that hadn’t yet sold out, yet were still exposed enough for a Metairie teenager to be in the know.

Once I was of age, I saw some of the best concerts of my life there. I was at the Plea for Peace tour the day after September 11, where I saw Cave In – a spacerock metal band whose Zeppelin-esque drums and gleaming guitar effects made me hope that everything would go retro. Another time I saw a one-of-a-kind show by Koufax, a Midwestern rock band none of us will probably ever get to see again. There was also the legendary Me First And The Gimme Gimmes show.  Truth be told, it wasn’t just contexts like 9/11 that made going to shows at Shim Sham so memorable. The bands you saw there just simply sounded phenomenal live.  And that hasn’t changed since Katrina.

I realized this recently when I saw Ted Leo & the Pharmacists play at One Eyed Jacks with the kind of intensity and auditory perfection that Rolling Stone writers pretend only their favorite New York City bands possess. This band is living proof that people get extra excited for concerts at One Eyed Jacks. Everyone always seem to step it up here: maybe it’s because the walls are literally lined with fabric so the acoustics are perfect; maybe it’s because the place is big enough to comfortably house a big crowd with space to spare; or maybe it’s simply because One Eyed Jacks is named after the bar/brothel from the television show Twin Peaks.

Whatever the reason, One Eyed Jacks is arguably the best venue in New Orleans. Nothing about the place has changed for the worse. On the contrary, they put on concerts with more regularity now and the 80s throwback night is always legendary. Between the reasonable drink prices, the loud/quiet contrast of the front and back bars, and a crowd that is consistently composed of people of every race, religion, sexual orientation, and political affiliation, you will be hard pressed to find a more predictably enjoyable concert venue in the city, and possibly the region.

One Eyed Jacks
615 Toulouse St
New Orleans, LA 70130

Taylor Gray // Groovescapes.com

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