Saturday, February 7, 2009

Right in the Breadbasket: Lawrence, KS pt. III: The Bottleneck

Nighthawks at the Diner
Photo by Jeremiah Hammerling
Note: This picture was not taken at the Bottleneck in Lawrence, KS but at the EP Theater in Chicago, IL about which I will write later.

Another helpful hint for those of you out there on the road, free pool time is your friend. Generally you can find one or two bars in any given town that have set their pool tables to “free” during the afternoon/evening*. These free pool times also usually accompany happy hours which is also a bonus. Free pool is great for myriad reasons.

1) Idle hands are the devil’s plaything.
If you tour like I usually do, you generally have a lot of time on your hands to screw around. They say that time equals money and this has never been more true than when you have a little bit of money and a lot of time on your hands with nothing to do. Free pool eliminates your need for something (which usually costs money) to do. Also, as I mentioned before, free pool is usually accompanied by happy hours which also ease the strain on the wallet. Also if you happen to play in a band with someone who is really good at pool, it gives you the chance to progressively improve in order to one day defeat them**.

2) Hey there Stranger.
Free pool/happy hours are great places to meet people. Don’t know anyone in town? Afraid no one is going to come to your show? Hit up the local beer hall with free pool, play a few games with your bandmates and strike up conversations with people playing near you. If you/they are cool they will end up coming to your show later that night and probably call their friends to say “Hey I met these dudes at the bar earlier, they are playing tonight, let’s go!” You want this.

3) R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
Many places you will play on your tour will be bars. These bars will have pool tables, and if you can play a decent game of pool against someone at the bar you gain that person’s respect. This will lead to them sticking around to watch you, buying a t-shirt and maybe offering you a place to crash. Careful though, just because Cletus put up a fight against you and your bass player during cutthroat does not mean that his house will be clean, not covered in cat poop, or that he will not try to tell you about how he robbed a bank and/or try to get you guys to “party” all night***. So, free pool is your friend then, because it offers you the chance to work on your game.

4) Bonus Round.
As you can see in the above photo, you can also take awesome band pictures while playing pool and people will think you are cool.

So after eating a delicious meal at the Mad Greek, Jack and I found ourselves in a position we occupied a lot, namely, having very little money and a lot of time on our hands. So, what did we do? You guessed it. Free pool time.

The Bottleneck is apparently a pretty cool rock club. Although we were there in the middle of the day, the lineups seemed to be pretty cool, mostly touring acts. The Old 97s or some band of that ilk was playing the night we were there. Most importantly for us, though, they had free pool and cheap beer.

We were the only ones there, so numbers 2 and 3 were eliminated, however it did give me a chance to lose spectacularly to Jack about twelve times as well as to consume some of the local Free States porter which was delicious.

The Bottleneck qualifies as a dive bar, for me, dude behind the bar with a bad attitude, nasty looking concrete floor, no door on the bathroom/stall, etc. so, since it’s been a while I’m going to bust out the old DBRS:

Tah Dah!

737 New Hampshire
Lawrence, KS

Tap: Pretty good, a lot of locals.
Bottle: Good.

None that I could see.

TVs: Meh.
Bar Games: Three pool tables (worn and lumpy just like a dive bar’s should be).

Couldn’t tell, as there was NOBODY there.

Jukebox: Above average.
Live: National touring acts.

90’s Alt-rock press photos/standard rock dive fare.

Happy hour was pretty decent from what I remember and they appear to have several of them, can’t speak for showtime, though. Also the free pool didn’t hurt.


The Bottleneck seems like it would be a good place to see a show. We certainly had a good time playing free pool and drinking cheap beer there, if you’ve got time to kill in Lawrence I’d recommend it.

*A quick search on Google usually will turn these up.
**Kelsey Crawford, if you are reading this I am coming for you.
*** “Party” generally involves watching CHUD II, drinking the worst beer you can think of and listening to his stories about all of the different ATVs he’s owned in his life. Not cool.


  1. Haven't been anywhere in YEARS so keeping up with your blog is a particularly enjoyable (vicarious) experience for me. Love it. Can smell the piss and beer on the concrete floors. Keep keepin' on. Oh, and did you see that Timberwolves game! Ha-ha! fuck. T-wolves (and the bucks, and the wizards and the...) should play the Rockets once a week!

    Keep nailing it down.

  2. I need to work on my pool game. And that photo does make everyone look good at pool. If i do say so. Also, when you come to Chicago, there is a shitty shitty diner near my place that serves the most ridiculous food pile plate of shit ever. You need to go there. Take Photos. Eat. And laugh. I think its like the equivalent of two cheeseburgers stacked into a plate of hashbrowns with eggs, sausage, and the kitchen sink. Incredible.

  3. Jesus Christ. I'm in it to win it.

  4. you guys look like a couple of characters out of a jim jarmusch film.