Find yourself on Wednesdays in SoBo, a South Broadway strip of rocker bars and niche clothing shops. Sure, there are spots like Blue Ice that keep things classy, but much of the drunken mile south of Sixth Avenue recesses into dive digs and jukeboxes stocked with at least one Led Zep album.
There's the trivia-zany Irish Rover, the infamously friendly Club 404 and, for early morning cocktails, the unheralded Brown Barrel Tavern, which opens nearly every day at 7 a.m. sharp. But if misfits and punks are looking for a SoBo triangle, Scout would offer 3 Kings Tavern, hi-dive/Sputnik and the Skylark Lounge as the defining vertices.
3 Kings has been making great headway as the black-and-red-hearted destination for skuzzy rockers and alterna-chicks. The bar's open seven days a week, with live bands and DJs scheduled sporadically throughout. The three kings -- owners Jim Norris, Jeff Campbell and Marty Killorin -- have spent the past year making this a royal destination, with the Phoenix Gallery open during the day in the basement and monthly specialty events like the balls-out Boylesque shows. They've also introduced the Best Tasting Band in Denver contest, already up to the semi-finals, which pits local acts against each other in the kitchen. And now starting at 8 p.m. every Friday, it's Bike Messenger Night, with free pizza (and admission to the night's show) for local fixed-gear-drooling couriers.
Just across Broadway, the hi-dive/Sputnik block is gearing up for a busy season. Off the Wall Wednesdays, the immensely popular mid-week '80s hi-dive party, has been shelved for the past couple of months in favor of live bands, and with spring-tour fever around the bend, those Michael Jackson records could be collecting dust until summer. (That is, if Off the Wall comes back at all.) Sputnik's now open at 10:30 a.m. with a full coffee bar, free wi-fi and an expanded menu from the kitchen, courtesy of chef Matthew Paris. In the evening, DJs work off playlists that range from '70s classics to more modern indie-elite hits. Record spinner Eddie B. wanted Scout to report that his weekly Wednesday gig features the "best up-and-coming DJ in town" or something to that effect; still, his night has some competition over at the Lure, which recently added Ciao! Wednesdays, with former Lipgloss DJ Tim Cook working his vinyl wicky-wicky magic.
The Skylark also offers some hip mid-week fare. DJ Quid keeps it steady on Wednesdays with his dance-hall offerings of '50s/'60s soul and R&B, which work well with the bar's slick rockabilly feel, those old Hollywood photos plastered on every wall and the Skylark's lengthy history. Live music fills out the rest of the week, with niche local and national acts ranging from roots rock to honky-tonk to surf pop. For sharps, the Skylark also has its upstairs Pair-o-Dice poolroom, complete with vintage pool tables and pinball machines. The place is so retro that everything, even the bar, is cash-only.
Scout report: A stop at Buffalo Wild Wings in Belmar proved surprisingly entertaining. The chain is known for its deliciously addictive boneless wings, but the tabletop jukeboxes at its Lakewood outpost offer such '90s suburban skater-pop gems as Face to Face, Millencolin, Bad Religion and even, god, Less Than Jake.