As Tommy, one of Howl at the Moon’s piano players, explains on the club’s website, “Every night…we try and throw a party, regardless of whether it’s a Tuesday night or a Saturday night.” The bar’s trademark dueling pianos serve as the epicenter of these nightly celebrations; patrons submit their favorite songs on slips of paper for the pianists and backing musicians to recreate. If the website’s playlist is any indication, the bands can handle popular songs from all genres and eras, from Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” to Kanye West’s “All of the Lights.” The performances are spirited: colorful lights splash upon a stage where servers, guests, and chairs that have somehow developed mobility all dance along to the music.
Fueling the celebration is the bar’s indulgent selection of drinks. Servers stand over patrons to plunge jello injectors into their mouths, and revelers grab colorful straws to help drain 86-ounce booze buckets filled with sangria or other fruity libations. Pomegranate liqueur and honey-infused whiskey sweeten specialty cocktails, and local beers add depth to coolers stocked with Stella Artois and Dos Equis.
At the 18-hole Monster Mini Golf indoor course, sharp-swinging guests navigate illuminated balls past 10,000 square feet of horrible goblins, disgruntled swamp monsters, impolite specters, and a scarecrow jack-in-the-box, and an on-site DJ spins tunes and hands out prizes for random reasons. Fun-loving youngsters or families celebrating the sudden popularity of their drying-paint blog can enjoy the course’s engrossing 3-D spectacle, as well as glow-in-the-dark air hockey and arcade games that spit tickets for prizes at skilled players. Golfers may play three mini-golf games back-to-back-to-back to become the mad master scientist of the course or split their Groupon over repeat visits.
Canadian pop-rock troupers the Barenaked Ladies play ringmasters to a freewheeling circus of brainy pop, brawny blues, and carefree jams as the Last Summer on Earth tour lights up arenas and amphitheaters across the continent. On stage, they maintain their 20-year reputation as an engaging live act with audience interaction, hook-laced lyrical patter, bookworm wit, and mastery of the tone sequences that steered '90s hits such as “One Week” and “If I Had a Million Dollars” into perpetual ubiquity.
Although The Rapture’s euphoric new album, In the Grace of Your Love, reveals a band that has matured into an art-rock juggernaut capable of captivating a wide spectrum of audiences, its defining essence remains rooted in the primal punk energy of its live show. Having taken the past few years to collect its thoughts and dust off its cowbells, the band marks its triumphant return with a night of pounding drums, pulsing synthesizers, and high-pitched howls courtesy of frontman Luke Jenner. Though described by Pitchfork's Andrew Gaerig as a “patient, skilled rock band unafraid to look uncool,” the trio’s suave brand of digifunk more than compensates for their between-song lectures on steampunk and multiverses. Opening duo Poolside draws on its experience playing in bands such as Ima Robot and the Calculators to incite bouts of dance fever with songs that fuse the clap-your-hands cadences of '70s disco with the casual leanings of '80s synthpop.
Popular globetrotting pop collective Architecture in Helsinki transforms Crowbar into a throbbing, futuristic discotheque as its latest tour storms American shores. Formed in Melbourne, the ambidextrous dance band stirs fans with a tornado of flamboyant sounds, infectious anthems, and commitment-free instrument swapping. With hits such as “Do the Whirlwind” and latest single “Contact High,” lead crooner Cameron Bird and his cakewalking team of tunesmiths tickle ear bones and rehabilitate ankles in support of its latest album, Moment Bends. During the kaleidoscopic performance, the band seduces dance floors with 10-foot hooks and sounds culled from hypnotic synths, romantic glockenspiels, and strummed chest hairs. Filling out the bill, Swedish dance wizards Lo-Fi-Fnk enchant with instant club hits and songs for strobe-light campfires, and pop enthusiasts Dom charm with stargazing Casios. Crowbar invites Groupon holders backstage after the show to meet the band, discuss musical influences, and take notes on how to hit the elusive high Z note.