I couldn't help but think of the first two verses to the song "The Body of An America" by The Pogues yesterday as I approached The Bottletree Cafe for the last time. The mood was similar to what one would feel when attending a wake. Everyone was still feeling the shock and disappointment of the loss, but, as time progressed, it turned into a party and turned into a celebration.
Birmingham said goodbye to The Bottletree Cafe on March 28th. An all day event, "Farewell Fest", was held to send the venue off in grand and epic style. A multitude of bands who played the venue numerous times over the year graced the stage for one last time. Patrons gathered inside the main venue, the patio area, and even into the parking lot as they soaked up the atmosphere before it was all gone.
Adding to the surreal atmosphere of the day, it even started to sleet for a few minutes. The Bottletree was not going to go out in any normal shape or fashion.
I ran into current friends from Birmingham, some that still live in Tuscaloosa, and some that I thought had been scattered to the wind. The event brought them all out to say goodbye in their own way.
I didn't get to stay the entire day as I would have liked. An early Sunday morning job kept me from seeing a few of the last bands to perform, including Man or Astroman?, who will now have the distinction of being the last band ever to play at The Bottletree. From what I've seen and heard, the band absolutely killed and the crowd, powering through alcohol fueled fatigue, gave them the reception they deserved.
I really would have enjoyed those last few hours at the venue. I feel I didn't take enough time to appreciate it when it was operational. I only saw a few shows at The Bottletree, and that is nothing compared to some of my friends, who logged hundreds of nights inside the place. I know it was incredibly tough for some of them based on how important the venue had been in their personal lives.
The Bottletree will rightfully takes it place in the pantheon of Birmingham venues and landmarks that are no more. The memories people have of the place will never let it slip into a forgotten realm.
The commemorative poster for the Bottletree Farewell Fest was a hot item to have. / DSmithScenes
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