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March 13, 2010

Reaction! is still going strong at the Sidebar Tavern

reaction posterYears ago, one of my very first nightlife columns was on a new mod-themed monthly dance party called Reaction!, held at the Sidebar Tavern every second Friday.

DJ Amanda Otto spun '60s and '70s grooves plucked from her big boxes of vintage 45s, and a retro-sounding band played a 30- or 45-minute set. Some folks came dressed in short skirts, leather boots and other mod attire. It was a cool idea for a dance party.

But given the shelf life of most Baltimore dance parties (save for a few like TaxLo), I didn't expect Reaction! to make it more than a year or two. 

Silly me.

Last night, a few Midnight Sunners and I hit up the Sidebar for Reaction!, and the scene was outta sight, baby.

Side note: I love the throwback posters Amanda uses to advertise the party ...

The cover was $7, not too bad, considering some drinks were two-for-one until 11 p.m.

Last night's band was Baltimore's Bad Liquor Pond, whose acid-tinged garage rock fit the night's theme just fine. They've begun to hit their stride in the past year, finding the right mix of fuzzed-out riffs and hazy grooves. It's common for psychedelic bands to stretch out their jams for minutes on end, but Bad Liquor Pond kept the solos tight and tasteful.

Singer/guitarist Dave Gibson, with his slightly shaggy hair, Ray Bans and necklace, kinda looked like something from the '60s. The rest of the guys, not so much. Looks don't matter much, of course, but it made me chuckle.

After Bad Liquor Pond's set (which lasted about 30-45 minutes), we cut a rug for another couple hours until the party was over at around 1 a.m. The crowd started thinning after the band stopped, but it was great to see Reaction! thriving a few years after it began.

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:29 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music


I thought that was you. You're shorter than I imagined.

Sam, reaction has been around for like three or 4 years. It was started by Matt Warner (?) from CP.....

@Mike -- I'm usually a little bit taller, but I haven't been taking my vitamins lately.

@Madisson -- I'll check the archives when I get back to the office Monday. I think Matt Walter may have co-founded it with Amanda, but I'm not sure.

OK, update -- It started in 2006, with resident DJs Amanda Otto and Matt Walter. As far as I know, Amanda has always booked the bands. So maybe it's better to list her as a co-founder, but she's definitely the point person.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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