|Location||528 Commonwealth Avenue Kenmore Square, Boston, Massachusetts Coordinates:|
|Genre(s)||Punk rock, alternative rock, hardcore punk, garage rock, rock and roll|
The Rathskeller (known as The Rat for short) was a legendarylive music venue in Boston, Massachusetts that was open from 1974 to 1997. A dimly-lit, gritty establishment, the Rathskeller was considered the "granddaddy" of Boston rock venues.
During its heyday, the Rat hosted such acts as the Cars, Pixies, Metallica, Powerman 5000, the Dead Kennedys, The Ramones, Talking Heads, R.E.M., The Motels, and The Police. From 1980 to 1987, The Hoodoo BBQ--which Esquire called one of the "100 Best Restaurants in America"--was located at The Rat.
In the 1960s it had been a restaurant and bar catering to college students. At the time it offered live music in a back room, featuring local bands such as The Remains (who opened for The Beatles on their final tour), The Lost (with future Boston punk legend Willie "Loco" Alexander) and The Mods (whose drummer Harry Sandler went on to play with "Boston Sound" hitmakers Orpheus). The Remains were so popular in 1965 that the owner of the Rathskeller was forced to open up the basement for the first time to the overflow crowds that the Remains attracted. Sixties-style live music was phased out at some point, and the Rathskeller reverted to a simple restaurant until 1974.
Upon reopening to music, the Rat promoted itself as the "Locus of Boston Rock and Roll,". While the club is often noted for the artists who performed there prior to their commercial breakthroughs it was also distinguished by the local bands and scenes it helped to develop. In 1976, the album Live at The Rat was released; it documented not only the music of the time, but the importance of the club in the development of Boston rock and roll. The WBCN Rock & Roll Rumble was held at the Rathskeller for its first three years and was originally referred to as "The Rumble at the Rat."
The Rat was also considered important for its contribution to the Hardcore movement. In a 2010 interview, Ken Casey of the Dropkick Murphys said: "(The Rat) afforded us the opportunity to have a place to play and develop our fan base, and it was just amazing to us. And the reason I credit it with all of our success, was this is how we started to tour. The hardcore punk scene in the mid-'90s was huge in Boston."
References to the Rat's cultural impact can be found in the book All Souls, The Sound of Our Town, the film All Ages: The Boston Hardcore Film, and in both Guitar Hero II and Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s.