Six months after I moved to America, my cousin invited me to a show at a local bar in downtown Albany. Valentine’s was the resident dive bar – brick walls, shabby exterior, dark bathrooms, a pool table in the corner, half-burnt Christmas lights hung over the bar and the tiny stage, and every surface was covered with band posters and various memorabilia.
The night my cousin took me out was February 29, a leap year in 2012. There was a decent sized crowd there that night which had gathered to hear Langhorne Slim, an alt-folk singer with a raspy gospel-like voice. He was fantastic. I became a huge fan of his after that night. The small space at Valentine’s makes for an incredibly intimate atmosphere. Every show I’ve been to there has made me love the bands even more.
Valentine’s gave me a handful of shows to remember:
Frankie Rose (twice)
Lucky Jukebox Brigade
And I can’t forget the many poetry slams I attended there. Albany’s Nitty Gritty Slam team held slam nights twice a month at Valentine’s. The first time I went to one was in April 2012. Having never heard spoken word before I was blown away by the local talent here.
Valentine’s held a lot of firsts for me: first show, first poetry slam, first glass of beer. And as new zoning plans and construction takes over the street where the bar used to reign rock venue supreme, everyone will still remember the legendary Valentine’s. It’s permanently a part of Capital District local history.
Thankfully, today Valentine’s lives on – physically on a different street under its new name The Low Beat, and affectionately in our ringing ears and hangover-filled memories.