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A Night in Charlotte: Howl at the Moon

So I’ve been sitting on this post for the last couple weeks trying to figure out everything I wanted to say.  To summarize it best, since moving here, Howl at the Moon has become one of my favorite default hangouts in downtown (Uptown) Charlotte.  

For those not familiar with Charlotte, the city decided to confuse everybody by naming their downtown area “Uptown”.  I’m new here, don’t ask me why.  

Anyways, in Uptown, there is a huge complex of restaurants and nightlife venues called “The Epicentre”.  I might have to save a separate review for The Epicentre as a whole, but in short I wouldn’t consider it my first go-to location for nightlife.  This isn’t to say that The Epicentre isn’t a great location with tons of things to do.  From my personal perspective, The Epicentre feels like it has a lot of show, but doesn’t have a lot of soul.  Does that make sense?  

Well that would be the case, with the exception of Howl at the Moon.  HatM is on the third floor of Epicentre, directly above Whiskey River.  For those who don’t know, Howl at the Moon is a chain of bars specializing in live music, especially “dueling pianos”, and this location does not disappoint.  The bar is shaped like a thick crescent, with a stage front and center (with two grand pianos, obviously).  There are full bars in the back right and back left corners.  You enter on the right side of the building, and at center-back there is a small patio area with tables and chairs on what would be the sidewalk if this wasn’t three stories up.  

The house-band is rather incredible.  They take requests, and I have yet to hear them cover a song poorly.  They have several tipping games to bring in some well-deserved….tips.    Beyond the two grand pianos, HatM has all of the additional instruments to fill out a standard rock band, including bass drums, and guitars.The musicians are as good as these as with the pianos, and have been able to use their setup to cover some truly surprising songs.  This is however, the one part where I feel part of the “dueling pianos” experience gets lost.  I have been to a few non-chain dueling pianos, and one of the most exciting aspects for me was watching the two pianists cover a song on just their pianos, especially when it was NEVER meant to be played on a piano.  I’ve seen two pianists cover Eminem’s “Without Me” with nothing but their pianos, a mic, and cajones the size of grapefruits, and pull it off so well the crowd was going crazy.  Don’t get me wrong, the musicians here are very talented, It’s just that a small part of me feels that if I wanted to see a standard live cover band, I could go to any number of places.  Dueling pianos is all about THE PIANOS. Despite my personal opinion on this, these musicians absolutely define the venue as a great nightlife locale.  

If you start following this blog regularly, you’ll probably hear me complain about this a lot.  I truly hate going tp a bar and not being able to hear the person next to me talking because the music is so loud. It seems like many clubs/bars think that for the music to be properly appreciated, it has to be played AT THE LOUDEST VOLUME POSSIBLE!  HatM is only slightly better than average in this regard.  I had to speak very loudly to communicate, but it was at least possible.  One nice part of HatM is the outdoor area on the “sidewalk”  this allows you to still hear the music comfortably, and engage in the conversation you may have been struggling with inside.  

The last thing I will mention about HatM seems to be very open to hosting groups and events.  I have seen several happy hour groups enjoying their venue after work, and it is a great place to relax after a long day at work.  During the later hours, I have also noticed that there seems to be an inordinate number of bachelorette parties making their way through the venue.  I will leave it to the reader to decide if this is a good or bad thing.  To be fair on that last bit, I’m so new to Charlotte, I don’t know if the bachelorette party is strictly HatM, or if it has to do with Uptown/Charlotte in general.  I will keep you all in the loop as I know more. 

In general, Howl at the Moon has been one of my favorite venues to date.  It can be very chill, but also picks up nicely later in the evening.  It does have access to the rest of Epicentre, including late-night snackage like Moe’s and Five Guys.  

MB

 

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