I visited Mike’s Tavern Friday night for the first – and what may be the last – time. According to a message on the bar's Web site, which I posted in my weekend music forecast, the club is closing indefinitely come May 31. New owners will remodel the place. I heard rumblings from regulars, however, that the deal may have fallen through. But that could just be wishful thinking.
Mike’s is a workingman’s bar that’s half rock club and half pool hall. Beer’s cheap, and there’s plenty of seating: a long row of bar stools, a few tables and some booths. Supposedly, in its 40-year history, the bar has seen Bowie play and been a place for George Wendt and Paul Rudd to get their drink on. Friday’s headliner was the Melismatics, which had played Mike’s a few times in the past. The guys in the band, friends of mine, said it was a total (as in totally awesome) dive during their first gig. The next time the Minneapolis act rolled through town, Mike’s had been remodeled into its current cozy state.
The doorman on Friday night was a guy named Lewis (Louis?), who I’d last seen behind the butcher counter at Sun Fresh. He had no problem keeping the small crowd under control – and any would-be ruffians out – during the Melismatics’ hooky-pop-rock set. But Lewis complained to me that cops target Mike’s, indicating the DWI checkpoint operating not far from the bar as a kind of proof. No uniforms came in while I was there, so I don’t know if excessive police presence has anything to do with Mike’s changing hands or what the new owners have in mind. But I do have one piece of remodeling advice: Move the speaker suspended over the stage! The frontman for the Melismatics, by no means a tall dude, smacked his head on it three times as he loaded equipment. Only the grace of the rock gods saved him from doing the same thing during the actual performance. -- Crystal K. Wiebe