Thursday, July 19, 2007

Comedy and The Graduate in Plaza-Midwood

The Graduate is the latest entry into the expanding Plaza-Midwood bar scene. The restaurant and bar opened in the spot that used to be Joe’s Raw Bar at The Plaza and Central Avenue on Friday. The grand opening will be next weekend.

Last Friday, about 50 longtime Graduate regulars, Joe’s Raw Bar faithful and neighborhood residents filed in after 9 p.m. The Graduate is more inviting than Joe’s, which felt dark and depressing. It’s lighter inside with lots of wood from the floor to the tables. There’s a pool table in the back room and the bar is now in front of the door.

Along with giving Plaza-Midwood area residents another watering hole, the Graduate is also home to the Charlotte Comedy Theater. The improv comedy group will perform in the Graduate’s back room every weekend. The bar will also have the NFL package for football season, but there are only a few flat-screen TVs. Still, if they’re showing the Redskins I’ll either be there or at Steamers.

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony at NV

The hundreds of patrons bobbed their heads to the chest-thumping beats. Sweaty men pumped their arms and rapped along with Krayzie Bone, Layzie Bone and Wish Bone as the trio zipped through more than a decade’s worth of material at NV lounge on Friday.

Bone Thugs-n-Harmony fans enjoyed rehashing the group’s tunes with the late Tupac, Notorious B.I.G. and Easy-E as well as rapping to newer cuts such as “I Tried” and “Bump In the Trunk.” The crowd spanned from the front of the stage past the bar to the dance floor. Diehard fans sweated it out near the front on stage. Some sat on the bar. Others stood on bar stools.

The dance floor was nearly empty because so many people crowded toward the stage, but a handful of people danced on the floor where it was cooler and less crowded. Those farther from the stage watched the show on a giant projection screen hanging from the ceiling.

Bone didn’t rap as much as they entertained. The DJ played a song, the crowd screamed and the trio rapped a little, talked a little, stalked a little and kept the crowd hype – a lot. The fans didn’t mind the combination of lip-synching, rapping and dancing as long as the DJ played faves such as “Xcstasy.”

The success of the show underscores NV’s rise as one of the area’s premier nightclubs. Bone performed in Charlotte about a month ago and still drew a sizeable and enthusiastic crowd to the Lake Norman area. NV, which primarily draws partiers north of Charlotte, manages to be a place where blacks, whites and Asians consistently support rap concerts. In Charlotte, with the exception of classic hip-hop performers such as Nas, most rap shows tend to draw a predominately black crowd although the genre’s popularity spans all ethnicities.