The Chocolate Moose Music Café

It's a weird combination: emo kids just out of high school, hipsters in their 20s, and older folks who, oddly enough, don't seem out of place. But it works. The Chocolate Moose Music Café is a little spot hidden between Round Up and what used to be Sofa Kings. From the parking lot, it looks like any other coffee shop: White lettering on dark-tinted glass mentions coffee and tea. Keep reading, though, and find that it also mentions wine and beer. Inside, it's what it would look like if a college-crowd-friendly coffee shop went cannibal on a dive bar. Cute girls in Lisa Loeb glasses mingle near the stage with guys in short-sleeved shirts and skinny ties while the older peeps sit at tables in the back of the bar, looking on pensively. They're there to support their kids. Or their kids' kids. Or because they've stumbled into a portal to the local music scene. The stage, which hogs all the light in the place like a beacon in the night, is the reason for the menagerie that makes up this social experiment. Since May's change of ownership, the Moose has become a hot spot for bands seeking a mic and an audience. On Saturday — one of the Moose's three open-mic nights — the one-bay room is so packed that musicians spill out the door, some gathered in group meditation as they prepare to take the stage. Monday is blues open-mic night, Wednesday jazz, and Thursday is reserved for karaoke. The music is as varied as the bands. Emo screams are followed by grungy guitars and funky drum solos. Everyone gets along here, and all the acts get supportive applause from the audience. Besides the beer and wine, the Moose serves specialty drinks. The menu includes appetizers like chicken wings and mozzarella sticks, sandwiches, dessert (you can't miss with the brownie bash), and milk shakes. It's a utopian society that can be achieved only with the right mixture of alcohol, caffeine, and music.

 
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