Lower Dens – “Untitled”
Baltimore’s Ottobar is one of the best live-music venues in America — a platonic ideal of the neighborhood club where there’s always something going on. For years, I lived a few blocks from the Ottobar, and I’d head over there on random nights, even when I didn’t know anything about whatever band was playing. The place holds enormous sentimental significance for me; I met my wife there. A whole lot of other people can probably say something similar about it. Everyone in Baltimore has a few great Ottobar stories. It’s the best.
I left Baltimore many years ago, and I haven’t seen another venue since that has the same local-clubhouse vibe — though a few, like Chicago’s Empty Bottle, come close. Last year, while visiting my parents, I went to an Ex Hex show at the Ottobar, and other than the smoking band and the smartphone proliferation, nothing had changed. It was unstuck in time.
But times change. The Ottobar, which first opened in 1997 in a different location, has been hit hard in the pandemic, and it’s in imminent danger of closing. In August, supporters launched a GoFundMe drive to save the Ottobar. The new compilation No Stagediving: Volume 1is also raising money for the venue. 51 different Baltimore acts have contributed to the comp, including Future Islands, Wye Oak, War On Women, Ponytail, Bacchae, Half Japanese, Blaqstarr, Dope Body, Ed Schrader’s Music Beat, Celebration, and Abdu Ali. Below, check out “Untitled,” a gorgeous and mostly-instrumental track from the Baltimore dream-pop band Lower Dens.