Angels Rock Bar tempts Baltimore party crowd

ON NIGHTLIFE

September 20, 2007|By SAM SESSA

There is nothing heavenly about Angels Rock Bar.

Power Plant Live's newest club is a delightful pit of sin and decadence -- and rightfully so. What would a rock bar be without a little devilishness?

No, Angels is not the next Hammerjacks. Far from it. Angels is in Power Plant Live, which means the majority of its crowd will be well-dressed (and semi-meatheadish) twenty- and thirtysomethings. It's a little plastic-feeling, and you're gonna pay a cover charge. And it has rock DJs -- not live bands.

That said, Angels Rock Bar has a pretty innovative concept: It's a lounge that plays rock rather than club music. And last Saturday at the grand opening party, the DJ was spinning the real stuff: more Pantera and '70s/early '80s punk and less Puddle of Mudd and Nickelback. He also played some Kid Rock tunes to make fun of guest Tommy Lee, who was supposed to be there but never showed up.

People were into it, too. I never thought I'd see dudes with button-down shirts and gelled hair getting down to bands like Pantera, but they were. One woman got up on the bar and gyrated for a while, too. My theory: Play it loud, and they will dance.

Some of the female servers wore fishnet stockings and hot pants. I saw a few guys with stick-on Angels Rock Bar tattoos, which was a funny touch. The service at the outdoor bar was sharp and quick.

At a club as loud as Angels, bartenders have to be able to read lips and take a couple of orders at once, and our guy was on his game. He made my buddy Will's rum and Coke so strong you could see through it. That and my Miller Lite (gotta go cheap at a place like this) came to about eight bucks.

There was no cover when we went last Saturday because it was the grand opening (cover will normally be $5), and Angels was slammed. I'm not sure how many people were there to see Tommy Lee, but they stuck around even after he didn't show up when expected. The line to get in was huge. We stood for a little while, took a break and had a drink at Rams Head and got back in line a little later.

Angels' investors put about $1 million into the space above the Lodge Bar where the old rum shack, mini-golf course and part of Have a Nice Day Cafe used to be. (Have a Nice Day Cafe capitalized on the disco resurgence of the late '90s and early 2000s. It closed about the beginning of this year.)

When you walk up the stairs to Angels Rock Bar, the outdoor lounge area is the first thing you see. There are some tables with bottle service, and the area is done up in white (that's the only semi-heavenly side to Angels, I guess).

The hellish vibe comes once you walk inside to the space where Have a Nice Day Cafe used to be. It has an industrial vibe, with chains dangling, a raised DJ booth and an elevated VIP area. And last Saturday it was wall-to-wall people.

"We're going to the bathroom," one guy said to his friends last Saturday as he grabbed a girl next to him. "We might be a while."

How sinful.

I'm not sure how long a life span Angels Rock Bar will have, but I'd be surprised if it stays open for more than five years. Baltimore's club-goers can be a fickle bunch. And it can be tough to keep a club's vibe fresh so people keep coming back weekend after weekend. But the neighboring Mosaic Lounge is doing it by bringing in national talent and offering more substance than style. With the right management, I think Angels could stick, too.

Angels Rock Bar is at 10 Market Place in Power Plant Live. Cover is $5. Call 410-528-1999 or go to angelsrockbarbaltimore.com.

sam.sessa@baltsun.com

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