The Treehouse closed - likely for good - this past weekend and it only made sense to write a eulogy for a place which has helped to shape my life over the last 7 years.
I don't remember the first time I ever set foot in the Treehouse, but the first time I ever played there was in 2005. My old band had developed a mutual admiration society with Miranda Sound and they set us up with a show. I was familiar with the place, but you always get a new appreciation for a bar once you've established a professional relationship with it. I really dug the way they did business. They treated bands really well, or, as well as you can in the laissez-faire atmosphere they had cultivated. Do whatever you want in that back room with the silver maple in it (including running your own sound), then we'll give you the door money and you can "get the fuck out."
My opinion of the Treehouse fully solidified, it became my preferred destination when I had the urge (and the cash) to check out what my new hometown had to offer. And I always felt welcome in those early days, despite not really knowing anyone there and not showing up with enough frequency to be remembered. Over the ensuing years, I have played the Treehouse close to 50 times. I've paid countless covers to see bands great and small. I even got to the point where everyone knew my name. This shithole had a hold over me that I just couldn't shake.
Even though I can't remember my own exact initial impressions of the bar, the reactions of bands who saw the place for the first time always rang a few bells in my mind. Most of them would ask if they'd have to turn their amps down, trying to fathom why anyone would have rock shows in this intimate space. More than a couple hit their heads on the low-hanging stage-right speaker that Treehouse veterans had trained themselves to avoid. The place hid its charms like a girl playing hard-to-get, but it usually didn't take long to discover and embrace them.
I guess I had become so enamored with those charms that I was more than willing to overlook the place's flaws (and there were a lot of flaws). I don't presume to speak for the Treehouse's management, but I'd bet that they were of a similar mind. It's all too easy to embrace nostalgia for the way things were and neglect the way things are. If everyone viewed the Treehouse through the same rose-colored glasses, I probably wouldn't be talking about the place in the past tense. It's just really sad to me that the bar's legacy will be as the leaking, stinking, half-hearted, broken-down shell of the place that we initially fell in love with.
Bars come and go. They serve their purpose and eventually outlive their usefulness. The Treehouse was never going to be an exception to the rule. Like a mother bird, it nurtured a corner of the Columbus music scene and raised it into something special. But once that baby could fly, the mother withered away. The Treehouse's demise this past weekend was that tired old bird taking off to find a secluded place to die and making it no further than the edge of the nest before plummeting unceremoniously to the ground.
Thanks for the memories, Treehouse. I may not remember the first time, but I'll never forget the last... "Waiting on deliverance is just like waiting on a tree that you can't get out from under."
" by Bottomless Pit
(one of the many, many great bands I got to see at the Treehouse.)