Saying goodbye really sucks ... like, a lot. Especially when it's directed at something that can't necessarily return the sentiment. Like, a place. As much as you'd like for its walls to bend inward and embrace you openly while sharing in the gratitude and heartbreak, those feelings belong solely to you. The doors are closed and all the great things that happened inside, all the memories you made there, will echo in the corridors of your mind forever, reminding you of who you were and what things meant to you back then. The Amsterdam was one of those places; it conjured a bit of magic even in its short reign, and John Cullen and Zoie Torres put it there.
The 'Burg bid a mighty farewell to a titan of an establishment in the local scene this past Saturday, and everyone showed up to pay their respects. During the daylight hours, nostalgic patrons and favorite faces lined the bar, all savoring the bittersweet conundrum of a forced goodbye. By night, the number of people grew until bodies were spilling in and out of the place as hands and feet dashed to fill the final orders for the night and enjoy the final show at the (soon-to-be-late) St. Pete staple, fashioned to send The Amsterdam off in style. Best believe the party was LIT!
Periodically, you'd see John bust out the stepladder to clear names of fallen brews and ciders from the chalkboard. If you were sipping on something that just got erased, you knew that you'd better savor the taste, 'cause you'd never get to experience that flavor here again. The excitement came in a series of peaks and valleys, depending on where you stood, and the people-watching opportunities were boundless. Some faces huddled together jabbering with beams of white smiling teeth, others carried a more somber weight, taking deep quiet drags of cigarettes. But then, there was music.
Amsterdam power couple John and Zoie arranged a trio of musical profiles for every kind of listener. First up came Jackson Davis and The Jackettes, whose vibe reminded us of cotton candy at the fair and fresh rain on green grass, and their laid back care-free attitude was absolutely infectious. Laughter couldn't help but bubble up as we soaked up their corny sense of humor and groovy sounds. You were literally listening to Davis' life story in the words of the man himself.
House of I brought forth a sea of positive vibes, and was just what the doc ordered to keep the energy in the room pumping. Each member had their own unique look, but our eyes were drawn to the homegirl in the red Power Rangers tee-shirt saucin' on the drums. Shout out to Elizabeth Piedrahita, wherever you are right now! But beyond 1990's TV nostalgia, House of I was a pretty cohesive unit. You got the impression they all really like each other, which isn't always the case in bands when ego is involved. John had been talking to us about these guys for a while and this was our first time seeing them live; must say, they were pretty rad.
Finally our friends in Jordan Esker and the Hundred Percent set up to close the night out with a bang. It was also Jordan's birthday (Gemini season, woop woop!), so there was a little more joy blooming than usual. If you've ever caught a performance from the Hundred Percent, then you know how sonically in sync they are. Keys, guitar, bass, percussion, and vocals collide with the same force as waves crashing into jagged cliffs or more gently onto soft sandy shores, depending on the message of the song and passion in the moment. As they were never strangers to The Amsterdam, it only made sense to close the night out with a member of the Am-family.
Life's breeze carried us out the doors just before the night's end, but we can imagine how it all went down, the slew of high fives, hugs, tears, and F-bombs thrown together as the clock signaled closing time. The Amsterdam was always a safe haven for locals and artists alike. We had the privilege of not only playing numerous shows there as a band, but also orchestrating events of our own that we like to think brought people together, too. John and Zoie were always accepting of our ideas and straightforward in their business practices. As an artist, what more can you ask for? So many good times and memories might be left behind, but you can tell this is only the beginning for the dynamic duo. We have faith they'll be cooking up something new sooner rather than later, and we can't wait to see how cool it becomes. The support will always be there. With that being said, "More local music, less Melody."
DEA & SAINT