Music & Nightlife

Unpretentious Howl a comfy uptown hoot

EpiCentre's newest nightspot is more than just a piano bar – it's a full rock concert featuring drums, guitars, a saxophone and even a violin. And don't forget the backup dancers.

Howl at the Moon offers an unpretentious alternative to the uptown nightlife scene. It's a place where you can leave your stiletto heels at home and check your self-consciousness at the door.

The Scene: The concept, which has 13 other locations across the country, is a rock 'n' roll dueling piano bar that focuses heavily on staff and audience interaction.

Song-request slips sit at every table (helpful hint: A tip with your song request will get it played sooner) and the staff will break out into impromptu dance routines for such songs as “Greased Lightning” and “Love Rollercoaster.”

If you've been to another Howl, the Charlotte location looks pretty similar – think traditional bar with lots of wood detailing, dark green walls and lighted beer signs. The focal point is the small stage with the pianos, drum set and guitars.

There's no dance floor, but that didn't stop patrons from grooving at their tables or on stage during the bar's grand opening last weekend.

The Crowd: Mostly people in their late 20s (and some in their 30s and 40s), dressed casually. One of the bar's mottos: “Howl at the Moon – where it's accepted to be obnoxious.” Anyone is invited on stage to entertain the crowd between sets.

The Music: Just try to stump the entertainers, GM Dickson Hunley challenges. My party scouts heard everything from Tom Petty to Garth Brooks and Sir Mixalot. The band also pitted the audience against each other by playing fight songs from various universities. Patrons had to keep adding to their tips to get it changed to their alma mater's tune.

If you go: Order a bucket-sized mixed drink ($24) to share with your table.

Howl at the Moon is located on the third floor of the EpiCentre (210 E. Trade St.). Membership ($6) is required. For more information: www.howlatthemoon.com or call 704-936-4695 (704-936- HOWL).

Staff writers Amy Fiscus and Priscilla Tsai contributed.

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