Saturday night, I was headbanging to Ultimatum at the Golden West Saloon. Last night (Wednesday), I was right next door at the Launchpad, for The Dirty Novels, Lions, and SuperGiant. At a little before 1:00am this morning, I left, drunkenly staggering right by the Golden West, briefly glancing into the dark window (it was closed).
I would never see it again.
It's destroyed. A fire erupted at about 6 this morning (WTF happened?!). When I walked by it again on my way to work a few hours later, it was totally gutted. I could see right through the front of the building, out into the parking lot behind it.
So.. a bar burned down. What's the big deal? It's just a bar, right? No. This place was special. It was fucking gorgeous, easily the nicest-looking bar in Albuquerque. Classically decorated decades ago.. timeless. Red velvet-covered walls, chandeliers, tin roof, the Puccini opera posters -- they're gone.
I saw many many shows there, mostly metal. I particularly remember one snowy Tuesday night about 4 years ago, seeing my favorite local band, Wisdom of the Leech. I was the only fan who showed up, and they still played for me.
I had my first Bridgeport IPA there. It happened after I tried a "new" (at the time) awful-tasting cloyingly-sweet stout (I won't name names), and I had to wash the taste out of my mouth. "Do you have any IPAs?" I asked. I wasn't even a hophead at the time; I just wanted some bitterness. Mathias served me a Bridgeport and I fell in love with it. Over the next few years, I didn't even have to order; Ryan or Christine would see me and start walking to the right tap.
I've brought dates there, been shot down there, got "lucky" there, sulked there, and celebrated there. And rocked, rocked, and rocked.
Read the musicians' reactions at rocksquawk, see photos at The Alibi. KOB, New Mexico Business Weekly.
The Launchpad, next door and also damaged, is closed for a few months too. It will be back. Serious doubts about the Golden West, though, and even if they rebuild, it won't be the same. It was the one bar where the original fixtures will actually be missed. Every other place in this town was replaceable. That one wasn't.