Twenty years of live music at the Scott Street Pub did not end in a blaze of guitars and drums, but rather in a blue bureaucratic haze.
Before the headline band of the night, and the final act at the pub ever, could take the stage, the Pub was already closed. City police arrived in force at about 12:15 to inform Tom Bergs that his liquor license had exprired at midnight and the being in violation of the law, they were clearing the out the place and shutting down the Pub. In a bit of quick improvisation, the Pollack Inn on 3rd Street was called and asked if the finale of the Pub could be held there.
The final indignity of the Scott Street Pub is that their farewell performance had to be held in another venue. Hey thanks for 20 years of live music, Tom. One of the few positive things to come out of the incident was that there were no problems during the shutdown. A few angry words were directed at the police, but Tom Bergs quickly took the stage, and emphasized that the Pub had always been a peaceful place, and that the police were just doing their job. Within minutes the rock ‘n roll crowd of the Pub had filed quietly into the darkened streets of downtown.
What I don’t know at this point is who knew what when. Give the number of officers that showed up, the shutdown of the pub was obviously anticipated by someone at the City. It was well known that the last day of business of the Pub was June 30th, and I would suppose that the liquor license expired with the business as it were. In the bar business it would be somewhat understandable that the owners don’t think of their “business day” as ending at midnight. After all the Corpse Show Creeps were advertised as playing “June 30” even though they would not take the stage until after midnight.
It seems to me that someone from the City could have reminded folks that the day ends at midnight and that limit would be enforced. Tom and the Pub have run alcohol free shows before, and perhaps an 11:30 pm “Last Call” could have allowed the show to go on.
If the City was operating in “gotcha” mode, as it appeared they were, then Wausau has lost several thousand points on the “coolness” scale. More than 50 years after it appeared on the scene the City Fathers still think rock ‘n roll is some kind of plague? How backward is that?
The crowd at the Pub was of all ages on the last night. Twenty something “punks” mingled with people who looked old enough to be my parents. Along with the mohawks there was plenty of gray hair. The crowd was generally very well behaved, especially when the Pub was being shut down.
It is a shame that a place with such a rich tradition had to meet such an inglorious end.
Eds Note: The picture of Tom Bergs taking the stage to talk to the crowd was taken at 12:18 am. I have a picture of the band that was playing previous to that which I took at 12:11 am. I have many more pictures of the final night of the Pub which I hope to get uploaded today sometime. I had taken video of the proceedings as well, but so far the disc seems to be unreadable, so it may never see the light of day.