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Barfly: Keeping It Live at Sunnyvale’s Quarter Note

In Clubs, Culture

Saturday evening—deafening riffs and distortion blast out at me from the stage where the Stone Roots strum their guitars. The trio belts out Americana hits without ceasing, only once pausing to down some whiskey shots sent over from the bar. I watch from the lounge of Quarter Note, a neighborhood bar in Sunnyvale that is unlike any I’ve visited.

Quarter Note is different from the DJ-spun Top-40 nightclubs that fill most cities’ downtown areas; it’s rougher and less mainstream, yet it’s as American as apple pie. Quarter Note is a hard-rocking dive dedicated to original live music acts and offering music-based entertainment every day of the week.

Instead of being a bar that just happens to have a stage, Quarter Note is a stage that happens to have a bar. Karaoke, jam sessions and gigs take place on the huge spot-lit stage, which sits prominently in the center of the room. Circled around the stage are the bar, small tables and booths, providing the perfect places to see the shows.

The crowd is an older sort, appearance inspired by their music. The women wear tight jeans and spaghetti tops, while the men sport bushy goatees and wear large belt buckles and leather jackets. Despite their intimidating appearance, they seem amiable, greeting each other with hugs and pats on the back. Likewise, outsiders draw no ire. What matters is the music and all who come are united in their passion.

After the Stone Roots finish their set, the Road Vikings enter the stage. Though the band is largely a Bay Area one, its frontman looks every bit the globe-trotting metal musician, with his leather vest, long hair, beard and sunglasses. With a metal scream, he launches into their set, supported on both sides by guitarists, fingers flying over their strings.

The Quarter Note
1214 Apollo Way, Sunnyvale

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