The Meatlocker is a Punk Rock Oasis
Montclair is kind of a bougie city. Upper Mountain Road is where all the Mr. Burns-esq villainous rich people live and look down the mountain at all the dirty poor people. Bloomfield Avenue is lined with fancy antiques and craft stores and designer clothing stores filled with young attractive white yuppie couples, who aspire to live on Upper Mountain Road and probably never will, wearing pea coats and furry earmuffs, who might stop in at Fricassee French Bistro to have the $34 Sole Meunier for dinner. However, if you live in Montclair, go to Montclair State University, or live in the greater Montclair area and you don’t fit into this aforementioned stereotype, fortunately, there is a place for you too. Conveniently located (essentially) in the basement of Fricassee, is The Meatlocker.
On Thanksgiving Eve, The Meatlocker played host to a show celebrating Sunflower’s drummer, Tyler Curtis, which boasted a pretty fucking baller lineup of Danni May, Sunflower, The Double Negatives, Jean Pool, dollys, Tru, and Whiner. The Meatlocker has been around legitimately since before probably all of Wednesday night’s performers were born. I would bet (without having any actual facts to back this up) that The Meatlocker is probably the longest running indie venue in New Jersey, meaning not a bar or theater etc.
The outside of the venue is pretty nondescript. On non-show nights, any random square walking down the street probably has no friggin clue about what goes on underground there, but on show nights the sidewalk will be packed with tattooed, pierced, long haired, dreadlocked, dyed hair, Doc Martin and denim vest wearing punks, freaks, queers (in the nonderogatory way), and hippies smoking cigarettes as the cool kids tend to do. Once you get inside and down the stairs, every inch of the walls is covered in graffiti and stickers. I even saw a sticker from Folly in one spot. For those of you too young to know Folly, they used to be the band you went to go see when you wanted to leave with a black eye and without some teeth.
The Meatlocker doesn’t serve alcohol, so shows tend to be open to all ages. Most of the older folk my age get annoyed with some many “little kids” around, but if you can take a step back, its important to appreciate that this place gives these young punks a place to go when they might not fit in at their high schools and can’t get into shows at places like Court Tavern or The Saint (which are still both great venues). At the risk of sounding overly grandiose, The Meatlocker is raising the next generation of artists and rebels and everyone that’s going to take our place and keep the scene alive when we eventually are forced to let go of the dream and move on with grown up life.
The show featured a wide variety of artists, from Danni May, a solo pianist with powerfully emotional and personal songs, Sunflower, a hippie jam band featuring a cello and good vibes, The Double Negatives, an eclectic, hard-rocking psychedelic group, Whiner, a post-punk powerhouse that has been really taking the local scene by storm, and dollys, who despite their long-running success and opening for The Front Bottoms later this month still find time to rock out dirty small basements. There were probably close to two hundred people crowded into the basement that night to groove to these artists and it was a really great time to just chill out. Tyler had a better birthday party that night that I’ve ever had in my entire life, but I’ve never been the drummer for a band as cool as Sunflower, so I guess that makes sense.
Everybody knows that the night before Thanksgiving is typically amateur night out at all the bars, when people all head back to their hometown and think they can drink and party like Motley Crue with people they didn’t even actually like when they were in high school. People act like assholes, get into fights, vomit and piss in public, drive home drunk as fuck and run over mailboxes or worse. At The Meatlocker, despite the massive crowd of people, there were no issues, no fights, no bullshit from the weird, scary looking people that would turn heads if they walked into any other place on Bloomfield Ave. That’s what’s so special about The Meatlocker and this scene in general. No hate, no judgement, just good people having a good time enjoying good music.