The Met is a mix of two iconic Rhode Island music clubs. Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel and the Met both opened their doors in 1975 in downtown Providence. Those times were wild, when people would come to drink, dance, and let loose. Looking back, we’re grateful there were no phone cameras to capture it.
For 13 years there were thousands of shows at Lupo’s – among them James Brown, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Bo Diddley, the Ramones, Roy Orbison, Talking Heads, and the Pretenders. The club was home to all the legendary “house” bands: Roomful of Blues, NRBQ, the Young Adults, Rizzz, Wild Turkey, the Schemers, Beaver Brown and Steve Smith and the Nakeds.
A short walk away, at the original Met, you could catch the best Americana and blues bands, from the Fabulous Thunderbirds to Fatman Wilson, from the Groovemasters to Jack Smith & the Rockabilly Planet. It’s hard to imagine that such a tiny room could loom so large in Providence clublore.
Beyond the two clubs, the music scene was exploding. Across the street from Lupo’s was the original Living Room, a great, great cub that gave birth to the state’s punk and new wave scene. Down the street was the Last Call Saloon, a haven for rhythm and blues and rock. On any given night, you could move from club to club, and see some of the most exciting bands around.
Lupo’s and the Met both lost out to real estate development in 1988. Five years later, in 1993, they opened as sister clubs in the historic Peerless Building on Westminster Street – and so began a 10-year chapter in our long, strange trip. People could walk through a hallway that joined the two clubs. At Lupo’s, you could’ve seen Elvis Costello, Meatloaf, Foo Fighters, Korn and Tony Bennett. Future giants Dave Matthews, Oasis and the White Stripes performed at the Met. Truly, a musical heyday.
That party ended in 2003, when a local developer talked the mayor into getting rid of the clubs. An agreement piggybacked Lupo’s to the NV dance club in the nearby Strand Building. Sadly, space restrictions could not accommodate the Met.
For the next 14 years, Lupo’s presented countless shows at the Strand Building, including Brian Wilson, Kendrick Lamar, 311, Wilco, the Jonas Brothers and Justin Bieber. The memories are great, but different, because the venue was more like a concert showcase than a club.
In 2009, the next chapter began. Lupo’s booking agent Jack Reich – the maestro behind the curtain since the 70s – learned of an available bar space in Pawtucket’s Hope Artiste Village. Rich Lupo was struck by how eerily reminiscent it was of his original club. In 2010, Rich and Sarah Lupo opened the Met anew.
As our longtime manager and friend Marc Roberts used to say, “Lupo’s and the Met aren’t really clubs. They’re a state of mind.”