The chameleon venue

  • 2008-03-26
  • By Anton Dwyer

DISCO NIGHT AT A ROCK CLUB: Cafe Amigo attracts a diverse crowd and is still the place to go if you want to discover what is happening on the live music scene.

TALLINN - This week we decided to review a classic: People never get bored of doing Shakespeare do they?
Cafe Amigo's proprietors sell it as an up-market venue with live music for locals and tourists of all ages. Cynical Tallinners claim that it's only classy if your idea of class means being shouted at by drunken Finns and propositioned by aging prostitutes.
In reality Amigo lies somewhere in between, as both can be seen on any given night. 

Tallinn's other popular joints all have specific crowds that define them. Cafe Amigo, on the other hand, is like a mutant creature from a science fiction show, an organism that can change into any form it pleases. One night there will be kids who should really be in Hollywood, the next there isn't a person in the club under the age of 45 and it seems that only balding men with beer bellies are permitted to enter.
Amigo was recently renovated, but it looks pretty much the same. The club is well designed with a chill out area behind the stage, so if you want to get away from all the noise and just have a conversation with someone you can do that too.

It is one of the few places in Tallinn where you can hear live music.  Tanel Padar and the Sun, the Smilers, Terminaator and Ines all played there this month. Next month Koit Toome and Gerli Padar will be playing. These are big stars in Estonia. Their British or American equivalents would be playing Madison Square Gardens or the Royal Albert Hall, but in Estonia, with its small population, everything is downscaled.
Amigo attracted a multi-nationality multi-generational crowd. It true that drunken Finns and prostitutes do go there but that's kind of unavoidable in a club which is based in a hotel.
Friday night was beer belly night with good live music for about 15 minutes. Unfortunately, the set lasted three hours. Some people liked it but by the end the rest of the audience looked like they were ready to tear their hair out (if they had any hair).

On Saturday, a really great ska band was playing. Ska Factor was an entry in this year's Eurolaul (song for Europe), but they didn't win. The place was full of  girls who looked like they were waiting to be picked up. None of the men had the courage to approach them though.
A few years ago, Amigo used to have bands seven days a week, the reality is that Estonia just doesn't have enough bands or enough live music lovers to sustain that. Still there's some good stuff coming up this month. Check out Gerli Padar, she is supposed to be really good live. It's quite amazing that she didn't get further than the semi-finals in the Eurovision song contest last year.

That's what's so great about Amigo. It's the thrill of not knowing what's going to happen.  Yes, you might still get into a fight or at least a shouting match, or you could have a good time, meet stimulating people and enjoy some good music. Amigo is not just a club 's it's an adventure.

Sokos Hotel Viru,
Viru valjak 4,
open every day Sun-Thu 22-04 Fri-Sat 22-05