In response to escalating rent, the owners of the Reservoir have decided to look for another space. They have nothing lined up and will spend the summer finding a suitable location for the move, hoping to open back up later this year. Their absence will be sorely noticed, and not just by those hankering for a $1.50 tallboy on a Monday night. The Reservoir has come to mix things that aren't commonly combined by bars, not just in Chapel Hill or Carrboro, but throughout the Triangle.
"It was something that we all wanted to do," co-owner Lyle Collins said of the ambition he and three friends realized in November 2004. It was a notion they'd bounced around over beers for a couple of years, but they didn't act on it until the closing of Go! Studios, the venerable rock venue that resided in the Reservoir's current home. It was a favorite haunt of the group, so they stepped into the void, creating a new local treasure in its ashes.
"At the time there weren't bars on every corner. There were just a handful of places that weren't in downtown Chapel Hill. In Carrboro we had the (Orange County) Social Club. In Chapel Hill there was everything else down there, but in Carrboro, there was just the one bar, so we figured it would be nice to get over here and start, offer people an alternative on this end of town."
But the Reservoir has become much more than just another place to get a drink. One of its bigger calling cards is as the home for heavy music in Orange County. The room hosts booming punk and metal shows that might scare away other venues in town. It's a role that was thrust fully into the community's eye with last year's Ragnarok Weekend, a two-day tour de force of local loud bands displaying 12 acts and reminding residents that Chapel Hill isn't just an indie rock town.
"It's something that's missing here," Collins says. "We don't get a whole lot of really heavy bands around here. It's what we like, and we like to see it. There's a lot of other people who like it too, so we try to provide a space for it. That's really all it comes down to."
Still, this Reservoir's legacy isn't all metal riffs and mosh pits. It's a welcoming local hangout with a standout trivia night and a jukebox that allows area up and comers to share space with canonical rock classics. It's a home for loud music, but it's also an entry point, a room where first time out-of-towners and newly formed Triangle bands can come to make their first inroads into the scene. But more than anything it's been a place where rockers, fans and outsiders alike can come together and chat over the most economical pint in town.
"It had kind of a neat niche," says Adam Brinson, drummer for hard-hitting indie rock duo Blag'ard, who will be the last band to play this iteration of the Reservoir on Thursday night. "There were a lot of free shows, and there was no stage. So it was always very equal footing between the patrons of the bar and the people going in there to play music. They were one and the same. At the same time, it was a good bar to go to just hang out and talk. It was pretty all-purpose."
The Reservoir's last shows kick off tonight with Colossus, Ruscha and Hellrazor. Tomorrow Blag'ard lead Glen Iris and Ape in the last rock concert to hit the space. Both shows begin at 10 p.m. and cost $4. Friday the Reservoir hosts a free dance party to close out the revelry. See reservoirbar.net.