A legendary rock and roll club named after a hamster
July 26, 2015 6:48 AM   Subscribe

An Oral History of TT The Bear's The legendary Cambridge, MA rock club has closed after a months long blowout\wake. Opened in 1981 as a restaurant, when Central Square was still a no-man's land between Harvard and MIT, blighted by urban decay and suburban flight, the venue was soon rebooted as a rock club and soon joined the Rathskellar, the Channel and The Middle East as one of a small group of independent venues that functioned as an incubator for 90s icons such as The Magnetic Fields, Tanya Donnelly, Galaxie 500, Letters to Cleo and, of course, the Pixies.

Performances from history:
Juliana Hatfield
Sublime
Manic Street Preachers
Codeine
Arcade Fire

Two years ago, the club was threatened with losing its lease after the landlord passed away and the building went up for sale. While the Sater brothers, owners of TT's neighbor, the Middle East, succeeded in raising funds to purchase the building, attempts at negotiating a new lease for TT's fell through. The Saters' bid to save the building likely came at a need to develop new properties on top of the club, a construction project that would've been onerous for any business to endure. Unable to come to an agreement, TT's owner Bonney Bouley announced that the club would close, which kicked off a summer of surprising comebacks and reunions.

From the farewell
Pixies (minus Kim Deal)
Mighty Mighty Bosstones
O Positive
posted by bl1nk (18 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
The band I mixed for (the DT's) played there a couple times. We opened for the BoDeans there once.

We also opened for the Pixies once at The Rat. Great bunch; their rehearsal space was across the hall from us in this complex somewhere on Brookline Ave., I think.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:00 AM on July 26, 2015


Thanks for posting this. I saw some memorable shows at TTs in the early 90s - e.g. a 3 piece Yo La Tengo with the Tall Dwarfs, Stereolab and Th' Faith Healers on their 1st US tour, etc. I never got over being to walk 20 minutes to see bands like this in such an intimate space. It helped sell me for good on city living and the fact that all real, life-affirming culture was very likely happening in tiny rooms on a weekday night with minimal promotion.
posted by ryanshepard at 7:10 AM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


I roadied for some friends of mine who played there once - ran cables and hung lights that ran off my hacked together lightboard I made. I feel like it's my connection with Boston-area rock history. (We also did a show at Green Street Station, but that club is long gone. )
posted by rmd1023 at 7:12 AM on July 26, 2015


Proud to say that a band I was in played at TT's. Always a fantastic place to see music. It will be missed.
posted by googly at 7:50 AM on July 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Played there many times myself, and had countless memorable nights seeing others. My favorite show there had to be seeing hometown heroes the Dambuilders play a smoking-hot set to a room so packed with people that the whole place vibrated when they launched into their set. And a great Ron Sexsmith show on his second U.S. tour where he essayed a rocking interpretation of No Doubt's "Spiderwebs." And seeing Kristin Hersh detonate the place with her mighty power trio, 50 Foot Wave. And and and ... (etc.)
posted by mykescipark at 8:35 AM on July 26, 2015


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posted by TwoStride at 8:50 AM on July 26, 2015


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posted by wonton endangerment at 8:52 AM on July 26, 2015


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posted by ghostbikes at 9:03 AM on July 26, 2015


It's been almost 20 years since The Rat closed it's doors for good, and now TT's is gone too...what a drag it is getting old!

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posted by Fuzzypumper at 9:51 AM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


They're knocking down one era of Boston-area history to put up 10 story luxury apartments. It's good jobs for the construction trades, but it's a drag to have the locations of great creative activity be reduced to a bunch of "On this spot ...." historical plaques. No time for art, gotta make some money.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:54 AM on July 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


Don Law, of all people, bought the old post office building in Union Square in Somerville. I am hoping he'll end up opening a small club there, particularly since Johnny D's is closing. (By choice, not forced out, which is still sad but a better way to go.)
posted by rmd1023 at 10:25 AM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Fuck.

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posted by en forme de poire at 10:28 AM on July 26, 2015


I was at that Arcade Fire show (WOW!) and probably just about every other show at TT's from about 2000 to 2005. I was really surprised how disappointing it was to hear about their closing, even though it wasn't a huge surprise that it happened in general. ManRay across the corner is a fading memory and Central Square has struggled with gentrification since that Gap store went in.
posted by feloniousmonk at 12:50 PM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


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So, so many good shows there.

And previously .
posted by Gotanda at 4:42 PM on July 26, 2015


I lived around the corner from TT's in the early 90's and saw my fair share of gigs there. Central Square was a wonderful melange then. The Middle East, TTs, ManRays. Don't forget The Green Street Grill for Jazz and Caribbean food. The Miracle for drinks and burgers, Tosci's for ice cream, The Brookline Lunch with omelettes cooked by Jamal for the morning after. HiFi Pizza for the grease hit before the night ended. I have a ton of stories and, mostly, happy memories from then.

I'm glad I left before the gentrification took over.
posted by michswiss at 4:45 PM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


First club I ever played at (1991) and probably the place I've played the most (maybe 20 times?). It was always a bit of a dump and the sound wasn't always great, but it was always a really fun place to be. Personal high point was probably opening for Grant Hart, though by then I had learned not to expect the headliner to pay any attention to the opening sets, and he didn't. The ritual was always to stagger over to Hi-Fi across the street for a greasy slice of pizza after the club closed.

My fave T.T.'s memory as an audience member is from 1996 or so, Imperial Teen playing second-to-last before the headliners Bettie Serveert. As usual everything is running late and Imperial Teen's set has been cut to significantly less than the amount of time they were promised, and boy are they pissed about it. The sound guy gives them the "no really, you're done" sign as they launch into "Water Boy" regardless, and in retaliation he just cuts their power. They don't give a shit, the drummer just keeps banging it out while whoever's singing just goes up to the front of the stage and screams their lungs out with no mic. Bettie Serveert was OK I guess.
posted by dfan at 5:26 PM on July 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


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Damn, I saw some great shows there. I seriously miss living a short-ish walk away from them and the Middle East.

I lived around the corner from TT's in the early 90's and saw my fair share of gigs there. Central Square was a wonderful melange then. The Middle East, TTs, ManRays. Don't forget The Green Street Grill for Jazz and Caribbean food. The Miracle for drinks and burgers, Tosci's for ice cream, The Brookline Lunch with omelettes cooked by Jamal for the morning after. HiFi Pizza for the grease hit before the night ended. I have a ton of stories and, mostly, happy memories from then.

About half of those places are still left, which arguably isn't bad for things that've been around for 20 years, but it's still sad to see things go. You can still hit up the Middle East, the Miracle, Tosci's, and Brookline Lunch, but there was much mourning when ManRay shut down a decade ago, the Green Street Grill's been replaced by something that's definitely not Caribbean, and I'm not sure where you can grab disgusting pizza after a show at the Middle East, but it's definitely not HiFi...
posted by ubersturm at 5:55 PM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


I could list all the shows I've seen at TT's since the year I turned 18, but that would look like I posted the Treaty of Westphalia in the thread. Instead, I will once again share my geez-has-it-been-three-years-I-guess-it-has guest stint at One Week One Band, where I wrote about O Positive. As an awkward middle schooler, O Pos were my guys in the Maron sense of the word, and my first interview with anyone was with Dave Herlihy at TT's. We were perched on a pair of amps on the side of the stage before O Pos soundchecked, with my mom watching all this go down. While I was too young to have seen them play TT's in their prime, their reunion shows have been one of the highlights of my dotage. I'm sorry I'll never go into this club again.

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posted by pxe2000 at 6:56 PM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


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