Saturday, January 3, 2009

Scrabble, Chess, and Jazz at Fat Cat

Fat Cat is the kind of place we would have loved when were in college. It's the perfect college kid's hangout (for the non clubby bar types). Fat Cat is an underground place (literally a large basement space) with 10 pool tables, 10 ping pong tables behind netted "fences," and where you can play shuffleboard, foosball, checkers, backgammon, othello, and go. There's also a lot of random sofas and recliner chairs dispersed throughout. But the main draw here seems to be the large amount of chess tables (every table was taken). A ton of people were also playing scrabble - holding a PBR in one hand and a dictionary in the other. It's such a great place for people who want to spend time with friends over a game of chess outside of their tiny living quarters while enjoying some $3 beers in jeans and sneakers. No one will think you're a nerd here because you'd rather play chess than do the typical "bar stance." We even saw people on their laptops. Such an interesting mix of things that were going on at Fat Cat beneath its very low ceiling in a very industrial looking space.

But our main reason to visit Fat Cat was actually for the jazz (well, jazz on a budget). At Fat Cat, just $3 at the door gives you an all night access to live music. Fat Cat offers live music every night and a late night jam session from 1 AM to closing (5 AM). We caught the tail end of the Gospel Queens of Brooklyn - from what we heard, they sounded great and we wished we could have heard more of them. But we were waiting for the Walter Blanding Quartet. They were incredible musicians. Considering tenor and saxophonist Watler Blanding is performing at the likes of Jazz at Lincoln Center, we were lucky to see him perform for only $3. The performance space was so intimate that we were literally standing next to the drummer as he performed and could hear them discussing what songs they should play next and watch Walter as he took sips from his beer placed next to our beer. It was great to hear them just do their performance impromptu - playing the next song to how they felt. We would have liked to hear them in a more closed off space since it was just weird with all the pool players and gamers who definitely were not there to listen to the music, but it was still easy to get lost in their incredible sounds and even better to witness close-up them getting lost in their notes.

If you're willing to stand in the line to get in or get there very early to even have a chance to get a table or a sofa seat, it's worth the visit for incredible jazz, gospel singers wearing gold sequins, dictionaries, cheap beer, and a large dog walking around the bar.