On the cusp of University City, World Cafe Live stands as an emblem for hosting budding talent. Here, I review their upstairs concert/bistro area.
If you enter from Walnut street, you walk in to the lobby where you can either go to the downstairs venue or turn left to the upstairs one. I have yet to go to something downstairs, but I hear it’s pretty legit. As for the upstairs, there is a half wall that separates the lobby from the actual venue. In that lobby, there is a place to hang your coats, but since it is unsupervised and in the open lobby, it’s recommended to not leave any valuables in your coat. There are also bathrooms in the lobby which are pretty rock and roll– bare and slightly grimy, with the occasional broken stall lock– nothing special, yet nothing overly disgusting.
Typically, once you give the ticket-taker your ticket, he gives you a paper bracelet if you are over 21 so that the bartender only needs to ask to see your wrist. You are also asked if you have a prior reservation; otherwise the venue is standing room only. The room size is bigger than a venue like Johnny Brenda’s but smaller than the Union Transfer and all one floor– a perfect medium-sized venue. The room is subtly decorated with beautiful guitars hanging across the main wall. This wall, stage right, has 4 huge windows where you get a nice industrial view of the city. Where I was, stage-left, in front of the small recording studio with an “on air” sign that was un-lit, all of the band’s instrument cases lined the wall. (With that, a certain amount of trust seems required from the musicians.) The band members also came in and out the tall door to the right of the recording studio. You can even hear the band’s pumping themselves up before they come on stage with chants and clapping, it is quite a fun spot to have.
The vibes of the room before the bands come on is one of anticipation. The color red is a big theme with the vibrant red curtain and “world Cafe Live” projected on it in another shade of red (pictured above). About a half an hour before the bands come on, the music seems to get a bit louder, possibly to compete with the growing sound as people begin to fill in. Of course, this will depend on the show, but you really only need to arrive earlier than 15 mins before the band comes on if you want the front row; otherwise, people only begin to gather by the stage when you get 15 minutes out.
In general, the beer selection was good, yet a bit pricey– but what do you really expect from a concert venue? At the bar, the service is very quick and friendly, they take credit cards and you even have the option to keep a tab running or cash out on your first drink. There is also great parking for the venue between two lots, a parking garage and street parking that is free after 8 pm. And for the show that I attended, there was minimal lighting and the sound was not the best, in terms of being able to hear the vocals clearly over the drum rattling.
But, I would highly recommend seeing a show at this venue because of the overall cheaply priced tickets and the ability to be so close to the bands and even hangout with them afterwards. If you are in the first few rows, you are literally on top of the band, since the stage is only two steps up and there are no barriers separating concert goers and band members besides the small railing. World Cafe Live (upstairs) is a pretty good venue if you want to enjoy an intimate show with a few friends. But, watch out, tickets often sell out quickly, since the space is fairly small.