For months I've been living in Manayunk and my least favorite place to go has been Mad River until yesterday. I always get sucked into going there somehow even though I've repeatedly explained to my friends how against it I am. They'll wait until I've been properly lubricated and then Kyle will say something like, "Come on man," or "I'll pay your cover," or "I'll buy shots," or "That's where all the whores are," or some combination of those things. Even though none of these prospective reasons to go appeal to me in any serious fashion for some reason this approach works extremely well and I end up going to Mad River at least once a week. There are plenty of reasons for me not to go there and a quick look at the reviews for the bar will give you most of the necessary information. Your average Joe would say the bar is too expensive, too dirty, too trashy, too young, the cover is too much for the quality of venue, the guys are too douchey, immature, aggressive... whatever. None of these things would make me take a bar out of my rotation of places to visit. My biggest reason for not going there is that the music is so loud that other people can't here me talk and since good company and quality conversation are two of my favorite things this is a big hit. Secondly, the bar is definitely a dancing bar and I am not a dancer. Years of accelerated growth has brought me to a commanding height of 6'5" and a dancing ability of a person suffering from some form of palsy. The combination of these two things means that most of the time I'm at Mad River I'm thinking about my exit strategy, but I have discovered that this bar has one huge redeeming quality. Football games.
I had never taken notice before because I had never been there for football before, but for the final Eagles game of the season James, Kyle, and I ventured from the standing-room-only Pitchers Pub to the spacious and accommodating Mad River. We walked in at half-time and dance music was playing and I feared the worst. I asked at least three bouncers if they music would be turned off during the game and they all told me it would be turned off and the game audio would be on, but from my past experiences at this place I was a little skeptical. I was wrong to be. Mad River is all about football when there is an NFL game on and it might be the best place to watch in Manayunk. For the biggest game of the season it wasn't too crowded. It's not that there weren't a ton of people there, it's just that Mad River is huge and can accommodate an unreasonable number of drunk people dancing or the perfect number of sports fans. Everyone that was there came to watch the game and high-fives were being dished out liberally after big plays and touchdowns. There was a great special on huge beer towers. Every booth has it's own TV and the back of the bar is lined with the standard coating of flat-screens that has become commonplace at any bar where sports fans gather. The game audio is played loud enough that everyone can hear whats going on. And the apps were surprisingly tasty. I had some fried pickle chips, which I've never had before, that kicked butt in the cajun remoulade that accompanied them.
I realize that none of these things are huge game changers, but all I'm saying is I was more comfortable watching the game there then I have been anywhere else in Manayunk. The only disappointing part was that as soon as the Saints kicked their final field goal and the game ended the dance music began blast and it seemed like ten minutes went by before the usual myriad of undesirables began to pour in.
Given that this was a Saturday game it might have been ok to stick around, but the fireball shots were flying, dancing was beginning to take the crowd over, I started to remember the Mad River I have grown to dislike, and I remembered that I had a ton of work to do the next day so I beelined out of the front door without saying goodbye and collapsed in my bed.
I'm always going to prefer bars where I can talk, but I have to admit that my mind is changed about Mad River and considering that it is only a two or three minute walk from my house I will definitely be back for any sporting even that they support.