Walking down Butler Street toward 45th, on the way to check out the new club that's opened in the former A.J.'s Tavern, I told my friend, "The only thing is, it's one of those places where you can't see into the bar before you go in, so you have no idea if you want to be there until it's too late." But it seems the folks who opened the New Amsterdam's doors a few weeks ago felt the same way: A section of the glass-brick façade has been replaced with a large, transparent glass garage door facing the street. And what we saw from the sidewalk proved welcoming enough to draw us in.
Inside, a bar runs along one side of the room -- a spacious and wide floor-plan by Pittsburgh-bar standards; in the corner, DJ Tom Brown was spinning records for a respectable crowd of familiar faces. The club currently offers house and techno DJs on Friday and Saturday nights, the bartender told me, and Thursdays are "anything goes." Part of that schedule is the "Electric Sweat" night hosted by promoter Vince Masi a.k.a. Talk to Vinny, which has relocated to the New Amsterdam following the closure of Masi's Key Room space in Bellevue.
The Amsterdam's kitchen wasn't open yet when I visited, but should be shortly; other improvements in the works are a rooftop patio for the warmer months, as well as seating along the sidewalk. In the meantime, it's a nice (but not too nice) spot to grab an inexpensive drink, chat and hear some tunes; you can also still smoke there, for the time being. It seemed an oasis of calm compared to the madness down the street at Remedy that Friday night, as DJ Skinny Friedman of Philadelphyinz packed the second floor with sweating bodies, with help from Keebs and Edgar Um.
Also afoot in the greater Larryville area was a show at Brillobox the next night, featuring former Television guitarist Richard Lloyd. According to some attendees, Lloyd clashed with a couple of audience members while setting up after the opening band Gems; the resultant heckling brought the set to a close after just a few songs into Lloyd's set. Refunds were reportedly given. While an animated Lloyd responded immediately via phone, some parties were not available for comment by press time; please check City Paper's music blog, FFW>>, for more on this story.