Volume 95, Issue 63

Thursday, January 24, 2002
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London Underground

London's most famous Office

Form Moby Dick to Harlequin romance

The world of alternative cinema

Art outside the clique

Boneyard Man: still searching for wider acceptance

Lizards, Trixie and original fashion

London's most famous Office

By Matt Pearson
Gazette Staff

As the home of Call the Office, the renowned building at the intersection of York and Clarence, which dates back to the 1870s, has led London's underground scene throughout the latter half of the 20th century.

In the 1960s, it's where London's hallowed Nihilist Spasm Band got their start and, during that time, it was also a premiere venue for the acoustic and folk circuit.

Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, the bar bolstered its reputation with the revolving door of up-and-coming artists in the local, national and international Indie rock world.

Co-owner and bar manager Tony Lima arrived on the scene in 1991 and, since that time, he has seen a number of legendary acts grace the bar's stage, including a 1995 visit from Radiohead.

But, according to Lima, there has been a shift in the music industry and club shows seem to have lost some of their relevance, as some bands are no longer getting their starts on the deep, dank bar circuit.

"There seems to be a shift toward getting a single on the radio and getting video play, as opposed to going out and playing clubs to build their fanbase that way," Lima said.

Regardless of the trend, Call the Office continues to have rehearsal space available for bands to use and Lima continues to harvest new talent. "One of the things we've always done is be very aggressive in searching out new bands – both bands from here in town and up-and-coming national and international bands," he said.

When Lima books a band, he's got certain qualities in mind, like musicianship and originality. In keeping with these requirements, Call the Office does not feature cover bands like a number of other clubs do.

"We try to find stuff that fits within the realm of what we do here," Lima said, adding the live scene has improved considerably over the last couple of years.

Despite its reputation for rock, Call the Office still knows how to get down.

The bar features London's most popular Retro night (Raygun Sundays), as well as a funk night every Wednesday (Mo' Gravy). Lima said these nights are popular with students, especially in the summer when the bar's patio is open.

No cover: Other notable live venues in London include the 'Wick (331 Talbot St., 432-1714), The Embassy Hotel (732 Dundas St., 434-6604) and Suz Blues House (566 Dundas St., 679-0246), which has jam sessions and open mic nights almost every night of the week.

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