Monday, April 10, 2006

Close Encounters of the MP3 Kind at the Valley Tavern

The Valley Tavern
4054 24th St. (btwn Noe and Castro) [Map]
Total spent: $0

Noe Valley’s population contains a much larger working class faction than the yuppies flocking to 24th Street’s bourgeois eateries, bars, and boutiques would like to acknowledge. But neighborhood watering holes like the Valley Tavern (on 24th between Noe and Castro) still find their bar stools occupied by construction workers, old time barflies, and average Joes. They are havens for the dwindling non-yuppie population of the neighborhood and one would think the jukeboxes should reflect the last vestiges of the Noe Valley working class the way the bar does. At the Valley Tavern, however, this is not the case.

The Valley Tavern has an Ecast MP3 jukebox. A more detailed post on MP3 jukeboxes lies in the near future, so I will focus on what happens when such a travesty pops up in a good local bar. When such a vast library as that in an MP3 jukebox appears in a bar with such a mixed crew of drunkards like the Valley Tavern attracts, trouble is likely to ensue. Case in point: somebody managed to scrape enough circa 2000 New York City club trance music to torture me for nearly a half hour. Thanks to the sensitive neighbors, the Valley Tavern’s outdoor area closes early, at 8:30pm, so my only escape was the smoking room in the front of the bar and even there I was not free of the noise.

Although the Valley Tavern is a bit classier than your average dive, it's hardly Noe Valley chic. One would imagine that behind the glass a music fan would encounter classics like Elvis, Hank Williams, and Fleetwood Mac. Sure, all of this stuff is in the MP3 juke’s library; but so is a whole bunch of other crap. As delighted as I was to see Edith Piaf and Leonard Cohen at first glance, they simply don’t belong in the Valley Tavern. I happened to be at the bar for a friend’s birthday on Saturday night, and I’d like to use his song selections as examples of what actually does belong here. Tom Petty belongs here. Aerosmith belongs here. Oldies compilations belong here. Common music for the common man and none of this bullshit for the wayward wannabe club kids.

Take me to your leader.

One would also imagine that the jukebox in a bar like this would be dirty and its control pad worn from grubby fingers keying selections. Alas, this is not so. As if it’s not sad enough that the Valley Tavern has brought in an MP3 jukebox, they have also happened to invest in one of the ugliest jukeboxes I’ve ever seen—digital or otherwise. It looks like a bodega ATM with a Wells Fargo display.

Obviously, the Valley Tavern jukebox is just like all other MP3 jukeboxes with its enormous library. It just doesn’t belong here. But perhaps the presence of the MP3 jukebox truly is perfect for this Noe Valley establishment, another sign of the class changing of the guard in this neighborhood.

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