The Rathskeller

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The Rathskellar
"The Rat"

528 Commonwealth Avenue Kenmore Square, Boston, Massachusetts

Coordinates: 42°20′54.97″N 71°5′46″W / 42.3486028°N 71.09611°W / 42.3486028; -71.09611
Type Music venue
Genre(s) Punk rock, Alternative Rock, Hardcore Punk, Garage Rock, Rock and Roll
Opened 1974
Closed 1997
Demolished 2000
Owner Jimmy Harold

The Rathskeller (known as The Rat for short) was a legendary[1][2] live 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.[3][4]

During its heyday, the Rat hosted such acts as the Cars, Pixies, Metallica, the Dead Kennedys, The Ramones, Talking Heads, R.E.M. 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.[5]

Aimee Mann playing with her band “The Young Snakes” at The Rat, 1981
Aimee Mann playing with her band “The Young Snakes” at The Rathskeller in 1981. —photo by David Henry

The Rat was the “Locus of Boston Rock and Roll,”[6] and, while the club was revered for the soon-to-be-huge artists that performed there, it was equally distinguished by the local bands and scenes it helped to nurture. 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.[7] 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.”[8] Other references to the Rat’s cultural impact can be found in the book All Souls, the film All Ages: The Boston Hardcore Film,[9] and in both Guitar Hero II and Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s.

The Rathskeller closed in November of 1997, and was torn down in October of 2000 to make way for the Hotel Commonwealth,[10] a 148-room luxury hotel of which Boston University is a limited partner.

Notable acts[edit]

This list was compiled in 2012, based on a survey of more than 400 eyewitness reports from people who frequented the Rat during the years it was open.[11]


  1. ^ Sullivan, Jim (15 November 1997). "Kenmore Square’s fabled Rat to close this weekend". The Boston Globe. p. C.5. 
  2. ^ Quint, Al. "Suburban Voice On The Rat". Retrieved 3 February 2013. 
  3. ^ "Culture Brats, Bars of Our Youth". Retrieved 3 February 2013. 
  4. ^ "Time Magazine via Boston Groupie News". Retrieved 3 February 2013. 
  5. ^ "Boston Phoenix On The Rat". Retrieved 3 February 2013. 
  6. ^ "The Changing Face of Kenmore Square, BU Today". Retrieved 3 February 2013. 
  7. ^ "Live At The Rat at All Music". Retrieved 3 February 2013. 
  8. ^ Sabulis, Thomas (6 July 1979). "Winner is Neighborhoods in the Battle of the Bands". The Boston Globe. p. 28. 
  9. ^ "Boston Hardcore at IMDB". Retrieved 3 February 2013. 
  10. ^ "Hotel Commonwealth, News". Retrieved 3 February 2013. 
  11. ^ "The Rat Survey On Facebook". Retrieved 3 February 2013. 

External links[edit]