A high-flying Owl Club in Roseville

The Owl Club

The Owl Club

The Owl Club has been a mainstay of old-town Roseville since 1934. Since then, Roseville has seen something of a resurgence. While part of the town exploded into a plethora of mega malls and chain stores, the original town center funneled the same kind of energy into a revitalization. What was once a street lined with run-down shops is now a tourist shopping center rivaling old-town Folsom.

Just off Roseville’s main drag, at 109 Church Street, the Owl Club has been part of that revitalization. New owners have taken over the club, changing the upstairs apartment into a second bar and redecorating the entire bar downstairs. The end result is that The Owl Club is essentially broken into three separate rooms with two separate entrances. The live music occurs upstairs, in a relatively small space broken in the center by the stairwell. Downstairs, the two larger rooms run parallel to each other and feature pool tables and the like. The entire bar, upstairs and down, is decorated with pieces from local artists.

The venue is nice, but the strange combination of art and alcohol gives the place a schizophrenic feel, as if it can’t decide whether it wants to be an upscale watering hole or a dive bar. What makes matters slightly more complex is the choice of live music, which resulted in a two-band bill last weekend featuring Judge Unger and Panik. Both bands are competent, but they are essentially hard classic-rock bands with female lead singers, hardly the kinds of acts one would expect to see in an upscale watering hole or art gallery. The audience was enthusiastic (particularly for Panik), but the overall feeling was one of unease: Where exactly are we, and what exactly are we supposed to be drinking?

The more troubling aspect of the venue is that over-21 live-music venues in the suburbs are rarely as successful as all-ages venues, which makes one wonder why the Owl Club hasn’t used its upstairs to this capacity. Rather than trying to book classic-rock acts to draw the middle-aged suburbanites looking for a night on the town (a difficult proposition at best), it might make more sense to draw the kids through the upstairs door, selling them sodas and lattes in an alcohol-free upstairs and booking more interesting music that appeals to a younger crowd. Teenagers essentially would be a captive audience, for what else is a Roseville teenager going to do on a Friday or Saturday night?

The other problem is that there doesn’t seem to be anyone involved in the club who has a clear handle on booking live music. There are some good bands coming through the venue, but if the Owl Club really wants to attract the “best alternative and indy [sic] music in Northern California,” it’s going to have to do better than misspelling Caron Vikre’s name (which is listed as “Caron Biker” on the calendar posted in the Owl Club’s window). Needless to say, the process of putting on a show takes more than simply having a stage and a P.A. system.

Nonetheless, there are some clear pluses for the Owl Club, and one hopes that it will continue to offer another off-the-grid alternative for live-music fans. The club’s Web site can be found at www.owlclub.net.