City Bar, located downtown on 3rd Street, has quickly become one of the premiere spots for nightlife in Baton Rouge. The bar was closed during the summer of 2018 due to renovations, but has re-opened its doors to become more than just a bar. While electronic dance music is only recently becoming popular in the mainstream music market by artists such as Marshmello, a large, cultish subculture has existed for years. In New Orleans, festivals like BUKU and Voodoo dedicate stages to the genre.
City Bar’s recent renovations included a relocation of their upstairs bar from an island to the wall, allowing more room to dance, and there was a change in management. Prior to these changes, electronic fans from Lafayette and Baton Rouge would have to drive to New Orleans to catch a show. Now, they can simply head to Baton Rouge’s downtown area, purchase a ticket, walk upstairs and submerge themselves with the freaks and family they’re well acquainted with.
“Everyone that goes knows what they’re going for,” Renée Coleman, City Bar’s talent buyer, said.
After their reopening, Coleman took charge of booking their shows. She’s done a fantastic job at putting Baton Rouge on the map in regards to the electronic subculture. I attended a nearly sold out show shortly after the bar reopened. Upon leaving, I remarked, “Baton Rouge finally has a home for electronic music.”
That statement stands true today. Since renovating, City Bar has thrown nearly 20 shows, all of which have been extremely popular, on their second floor, which features a convenient patio when you need a break from the oftentimes violent frequencies. Much of their success is due to Coleman and other management’s booking selection. The venue is capable of hosting packed shows with big-name artists or shows that showcase smaller artists who might not have a huge following.
“That’s our little sweet spot,” Coleman said. “We can have bigger artists come through and have an intimate show with them, but we can also have deserving artists who deserve to headline but can’t quite fill a room in New Orleans.”
Among those nearly 20 shows, some of the artists had never been to Baton Rouge or even Louisiana, which illustrates how City Bar has become so important to Louisiana’s electronic scene over the past 10 months.
In addition to talent buying, Coleman also handles the artist relations aspect of the bar. And, in true Louisianan nature, she’s sure to always show touring artists the meaning of southern hospitality.
“Being able to show them our food has been awesome…like Spag Heddy and Conrank had never had chargrilled oysters, especially not like we do it.”
While Baton Rouge’s oysters certainly are a delicacy, City Bar’s ability to not only throw shows, but also provide a new and convenient home for electronic music lovers in south Louisiana is a delicacy itself.