Loud. That’s the first word that springs to mind when thinking about how to describe Rock ’n’ Roll Heaven, a hard-rock haven on Seneca Street (near the corner of Center Road) in West Seneca. From its deep red walls slashed with black-and-white streaks to the intimidating decibels of the music, everything about this place is enthusiastically shouted.
Dave and I visited Rock ’n’ Roll Heaven around 11 p.m. on a recent Friday. After paying $5 each to a man sporting a towering, peroxide blonde Mohawk, we were allowed to enter the building. My first impression was surprise at the size of the venue – this isn’t some dinky bar with a band strumming away in a cramped corner. A DJ booth sits on one side of the main entrance, and the bar area, slightly elevated and sectioned off with railings, runs along the majority of the back wall. The dance floor and full-sized, elevated stage take up one end of the facility, and a pool table and dartboard is tucked away on the other.
We had no problem finding two stools at the bar, which is so long that it features three separate sets of taps and liquor displays. Our bartender told us the special of the night was $2 Rolling Rock and Pabst Blue Ribbon, so, being the fiscally conservative pair we are, Dave and I each ordered one of the former.
Though the crowd was far from large at that point of the night, the band was barreling full-bore through a set of covers, including “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath, “Born to Be Wild” by Steppenwolf and “Peace Dog” by the Cult. They lost their place in one song, leading to a sheepish apology, but no one seemed to really care.
The interior of Rock ’n’ Roll Heaven was dim, and the illumination that did exist was almost all in some shade of red, from the stage to the bar. Televisions throughout the building showed a Rolling Stones concert, a nice touch. No one would confuse this for a sports bar, that’s for sure.
The wall behind the bar sported practically the only color scheme present besides red and black – it is bright blue with white clouds. The female bartenders all were wearing shirts with “Heavenly Angel” printed on the backs. Subtlety is the furthest thing from Rock ’n’ Roll Heaven’s mind.
As I followed up my beer with a $3 gin and tonic, we listened to the DJ proclaiming another spur-of-the-moment special – $2 shots for anyone who purchased a raffle ticket to win tickets to Mike Tramp, former frontman of White Lion and Freak of Nature, who played the venue April 25. Several enthusiastic patrons took him up on the offer, calling over the bartenders by name and getting their night properly jump-started.
If you’re a hard-rock aficionado, Rock ’n’ Roll Heaven is a perfect place to spend those weekend nights and avoid another painful round of sugary pop and country Top 40 hits that monopolize the jukebox at many local watering holes. The crowd was a vocal one that seemed to comprise mostly regulars, but if you’re a lover of black leather and hard rock, you’ll fit right in.
Rock ’n’ Roll Heaven
Where: 3036 Seneca St., West Seneca (826-8600, www.rocknrollheaven.com and Facebook)
Scene: A hard-rocking hole-in-the-wall that’s all about the music. There is a cover charge on nights with live music, but an ATM inside has your back if you forget cash.
Dress code: Lots of leather, black and Harley-Davidson gear, punctuated by the odd Mohawk and pair of fishnet stockings.
Specials: $2 well drinks and drafts between 8 and 10 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays. Free admission before 9 p.m., excluding special events.
Hours: 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. Thursdays and 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Also open on nights during the rest of the week when special events are scheduled.