Discover more from Saratoga Living After Hours
Think New Year's Eve tapped out the Capital Region's late-night scene for a bit? Think again. PLUS: Koto's new local locale, opera and collegiate sports news—and more.
Not too long ago, if I were to pick a day of the year when I expected downtown Saratoga Springs would be a ghost town, it may very well have been Monday, January 9. The holiday hoopla is over, people haven’t given up on dry January yet, it gets dark at—what?—3pm, and, well, it’s a Monday, a day notorious for slow business and closed restaurants. So when I stepped out of my friend’s car into the half-empty library parking lot at 9pm this past Monday (January 9), I did wonder what the heck I was doing. If Mondays are “dark days” during track season, I’d imagine they’d be super-dark days during the dead of winter. It turns out that they are…just not in the way you’d think.
Local music promoter Super Dark Collective has been putting on Monday night shows in Saratoga since 2017, first at One Caroline and then at Desperate Annie’s starting in 2018. “We cater to all genres as long as it’s original music,” says Super Dark’s Shane Sanchez. “So we’ve had hip hop, folk, psychedelic, new wave, no wave, punk, experimental—you name it.” Super Dark Collective’s mission is to present an immersive experience that challenges audiences and may not be considered the norm by the majority. Admittedly, as a member of the majority when it comes to live music, I wasn’t quite sure what I was in for.
Before we headed to DA’s, we stopped by Putnam Place, which I’d heard has quite the Monday night scene of its own. We just missed house band Family Tree, which GM Sly Fox tells us has performed from 7-9pm every Monday except one (because of a snow storm) since summer 2021. “We have a core of about 50 people that come every single week, plus the fans of whoever is playing that night,” Sly says. “Two weeks ago we had 200 people here for a tribute to Frank Daley”—a local musician who passed away in December. Another big draw is when A-list musicians from within 100 miles stop by to play with Family Tree—something Sly calls a pro jam.
Putnam recently started hosting open mic nights after Family Tree, but we had somewhere to be. On the way out, we ran into a guy named Jeff, a friend of some of the Family Tree band members and a Monday night regular. “These are some of the best players around here,” he says. “Two of them are out of Super 400.” I asked if Jeff ever went over to DA’s after Putnam, and if so, how the vibes of each venue compare. “This is kind of a jam scene,” he said about Family Tree at Putnam. “DA’s is a little more hipster. It’s a good mix at DA’s.” At this point, my friend, who had been a Super Dark Monday show before, jumped in. “It’s ‘mixter.’” Jeff got a kick out of that. “We just coined a new term, motherf***er,” he said. “I love you, man.”
While mixter was coined to describe the music at DA’s on Mondays, it also describes the clientele. Throughout the night I met a guy drawing in a sketchbook at the bar, a drug dealer, a man who had definitely been dealt drugs and was attempting to play foosball with one player and seven balls, several people in Death Wish Coffee apparel, a woman who was sitting on the ground, two first-timers who had driven up from Schenectady, a guy in an aviator hat and cowboy boots, a guy in an NFL beanie, and two exceptionally drunk men in suits.
“I’ve got to know,” I said to the duo. “Why are you in suits?”
“Because I’m a f***ing maniac!” said the one who identified himself as Ryan.
“We’re actually narcs,” his friend, Matt, said as he spilled his beer, partially on me.
I came to learn that they were lawyers, and had come from a business dinner. “If you get caught jaywalking, I’m your guy,” Matt said. Ryan took that opportunity to inform us that it’s only jaywalking if you cross an intersection diagonally, a fact that I’m pretty sure is inaccurate.
The first band to play was Black Tongue Reverend, which was billed as a psychedelic/stoner rock group from Albany. “Thanks for coming out on a Monday night,” the lead singer said after the band’s first song. “Hopefully it’s not too loud. And if it is, I don’t care.”
During the break between acts, I caught up with some of the guys from Super Dark Collective. “The vibe is always strong—good-natured and fun,” said Chris Brown, who lives in Troy but works in Saratoga. “It gets messy, but never that messy.” The vibe did indeed stay strong through the second and final act of the night: an Albany-based ”stoner metal” band called Gozer. When Gozer was wrapping up, the 75-person crowd began chanting “one more song.” The band pondered playing a cover, before remembering the Super Dark rule: no covers. The original song they ended up playing was met with enthusiastic head-bobbing.
Before leaving, I ran into George, the NFL beanie-wearing DA’s employee. When asked what his favorite night of the week was, he thought for a moment, before admitting it was Mondays. “This is probably the best thing going on in the Capital Region,” he said simply. “Across the US, you’d be hard-pressed to find something like this.”
Quote of the Week
“We woke up, we did mushrooms, we had a blast and we went to sleep.”
—Overheard at Super Dark Monday at Desperate Annie’s
The Koto Experience
Hibachi, anyone? Tehen Yu, owner of Albany’s Koto Japanese Restaurant, has announced plans to open a second Koto location in the former home of Golden Corral in Wilton. "It's my dream,” Yu told the Albany Business Review of opening a second Koto. “I have been planning this for a long time.” The new restaurant, which Yu hopes will be ready in the next eight months, will seat 270-300 people and have a bar, sushi station and 10 hibachi tables, as well as a patio for outdoor dining.
If you’ve picked up a copy of the most recent issue of Capital Region Living (or been on a flight packed with sports crews in matching puffer coats from teams from all over the world), you’ll know that this week marked the start of the World University Games, the world’s largest multi-sport collegiate athletic event that’s being hosted in Lake Placid. (It’s the first time the games have been in the US in 30 years.) Events are taking place across the Northcountry, with the closest-to-home competition being at Gore Mountain, which is hosting snowboarding, freestyle and freeski events now through January 22. Learn more about the games and other special events going on in Lake Placid here.
A High Note
After Lawrence Edelson stepped down from his post as artistic and general director of Opera Saratoga following the 2022 season, the storied company has announced its 2023 season lineup (but not Larry’s successor…yet). The three-show season will take place entirely between June 30 and July 8 at Universal Preservation Hall with shows A Gentleman’s Guide, Don Pasquale and The Selfish Giant, and four concerts will be held in the months leading up to the 2023 festival. “I am particularly excited about this season,” says Head of Music Staff Laurie Rogers, "as it is cast completely from either current or former members of our prestigious Young Artist program.”
10 Minutes in Heaven
If you went to the YMCA’s Saratoga branch this week, you might’ve seen staff members testing out the fitness center’s newest edition—and no, it’s not a new workout machine. In fact, it’s the opposite. “The HydroMassage chair allows you to enjoy total relaxation while remaining fully clothed, dry and comfortably supported as you are massaged by powerful waves of heated water, allowing you to target the areas where you need it most,” says Mike Miakisz, association director of marketing & membership for the Saratoga Regional YMCA. “It’s an affordable alternative to traditional massage and is available for a one-time use [a 10-minute session] or a monthly subscription [$25 for one use per day].” The chair is first come, first serve, and after signing up for the plan, members will receive a pin that will activate the chair for use.
Save the Date
In two weeks, SLAH will be traveling south of the Twin Bridges (surprising, we know) for the food and wine event of the season. The Albany Chef’s Food & Wine Festival’s Wine & Dine for the Arts event will return to the Albany Capital Center January 26-28, and feature a Mayor’s Reception, two days of Grand Tastings, a “Slider Slam” competition, and, finally, the Grand Gala reception and five-course dinner featuring celebrated local chefs including Yono Purnomo, Elliot Vogel and Jaime Ortiz. Proceeds from the three-day festival will help provide funding for not-for-profit arts organizations in Albany. Tickets are still on sale—get yours here.
This Week in Saratoga Living After Hours
On Monday, we kicked off a new year of SLAH with a Saratoga cryptoquote.
Then, on Tuesday, we went inside the infamous Ballston Lake castle, and asked its owner the question on everyone’s mind.