I wasn’t sure what to expect as I headed to Geno’s Rock Club with a friend on a recent Friday night.

We stopped in around 6:30 p.m., and there were quite a few people gathered at the bar. One of the first things I noticed was a sign above the bartender that read “Cash Only.” Luckily, we both had cash on us, but there’s also an ATM inside if you don’t.

I ordered a Woodchuck Hard Cider, and my friend asked for a Heineken — each drink was $4. Geno’s has almost two dozen beer options, but none on tap. They also offer a full bar and wine selection.

The bartender said Geno’s doesn’t really have a specialty drink that it’s known for, but a popular beverage among its customers is Pabst Blue Ribbon — lovingly known by its acronym, PBR.

The crowd that was enjoying some “Thank God it’s Friday” beverages was an interesting mix of people. Some played pool; others just hung out around the bar.

The tiered floor leading to a small stage at the back of the bar had some small tables and chairs, but no one was in that area early in the night.

Geno’s, which was once on Brown Street, kept with the dark, basement feel it once had when it moved to Congress Street. Exposed ceilings give the space a warehouse-like feel, and black and red walls keep that dark atmosphere. Fliers for upcoming shows are tacked around the space, and a couple of large signs hang high up on the walls.

Music events through mid-March were listed on the door when we came in. Live music is presented on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, and naturally (given the name of the place), features rock acts playing original music.

The lineup the night I visited included Holland Holland, 13CrystalSkullz and CUSS. My friend and I didn’t stay for the music, which started at 9:30 p.m. with a $5 cover, but we did hear one of the bands setting up.

If you don’t mind hearing the pounding of a bass drum in the background of your conversation as the band tests the sound system, you won’t mind hanging out before the show.

As the full band started gearing up, conversation was almost impossible. Since I’m someone annoyed by people who talk through concerts, I guess that’s not such a bad thing.

I’d say the real charm of Geno’s is probably when the band starts rocking. While Portland does have a lot of places to enjoy live music, there are not many that are more concert venue than bar.

Emma Bouthillette is a freelance writer who lives in Biddeford.


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