A much-loved, multipurpose venue just closed its doors for the last time. Foam, located at Cherokee Street and Jefferson Avenue, had its last event on Sunday, a marathon performance of bands with longtime connections to the venue.
Foam was many things to many people. It was a coffee shop that also featured a full bar — or, perhaps, a bar that offered late-night coffee. It was also a performance space where young St. Louis bands got their start and touring groups that didn’t fit into neat commercial categories found a friendly outpost on the road.
Some Foam regulars knew it chiefly as the home of comedy nights including Sorry, Please Continue and Coffee Break. Small theater troupes used it for performances. The calendar for its final month in business revealed its eclectic booking taste, with shows by local and touring bands, a fundraising concert for the St. Patrick Center and a showcase for several artists participating in the 12th annual Cherokee Print Bazaar.
“People tend to think that Foam is whatever it is the night that they were there. Or the time their band played there. And that’s their idea, that’s what Foam is,” said owner Mic Boshans. “I think that’s what’s cool about it. It’s for so many different people. And it feels special and it feels like it’s theirs, and it’s accessible and it’s intimate.”
Boshans started working at Foam as a barista and bartender not long after Mike Glodeck opened the space in 2009. Boshans bought it in 2014 and put a heavier emphasis on booking musicians while preserving the club’s DIY vibe.
“I couldn’t list all the music genres of people who’ve played there over the years,” said co-manager Caitlin Franz. “Mainly, it does feels like indie music reigns over everything else, but there’s folk music, world music, spoken word — all of it.”
Foam had a capacity of 80. With a welcoming attitude toward bands just starting out and for organizations looking for spaces they could rent on the cheap, Foam maintained its indie bonafides but struggled to stay afloat. Boshans and Franz launched a crowdfunding campaign in January 2019 to help keep Foam in business.
Their efforts ultimately came up short. For this episode of Cut & Paste, we talked with Boshans and Franz about what made Foam special and what its failure to stay in business may say about St. Louis’ cultural scene. We also hear from Foam patrons about what brought them in the door over the years.
The podcast is sponsored by JEMA Architects, Planners and Designers.
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