Since I moved into my new place in Paris, my roommate Amélie has been awesome enough to take me and Neeta to see live music every week in different parts of the city. However, last weekend she was out of town so on Saturday we chose a place at random that had a group playing later that evening. We were in luck. The place was one of the coolest I’ve ever been to. It was called Caveau des Oubliettes (Dungeon Vault), and when they say dungeon, they really mean it. To get to where the band played we went down a dark, damp and narrow stone stairway to the bottom floor. Instead of hand rails there were heavy rusted chains to grab onto further feeding the dungeon vibe of the place. The downstairs was a half-barrel shaped room with walls made up of huge dusty stones. Behind the stage and obscured by the band was another even smaller and creepier set of stairs leading down into darkness. The keystone of the second stairway was a gargoyle face set in a grimace. Further testament to the dungeon ambience of the place was a name and the date 1421 carved into the stone block a little above my eye level.
They band that played that night was called Grand Macabout, and they played a unique sort of electronica-jazz. They have several guys playing several instruments: Two saxophones of different sizes, guitar, bass, drums, keyboard, a guy spinning turntables and a guest rapper (in French). Their songs were all varied, from really chill jazz with relaxing flows by the rapper to a more swing-like, very danceable sort of electro-jazz. At intermission I bought a cd from them, which I have only done once or twice in my history of seeing live music. My favorite songs of the night were called ‘Black Cat’ and ‘Eastern Special’.
The next night, Amélie had returned and had two friends over. When we told them where we had seem the show they confirmed that it was indeed a dungeon that used to be part of an old prison. They said that only about 10 years ago or so you could visit the dungeon, and go down the second stairway I described above to see the old cells that back then still had skeletons in them. ..