I can't say I ever personally made it to a rock show in Cameron Village's Underground. (Probably too busy playing with Star Wars or M.A.S.K. figurines.) But man, oh man, would it have been sweet to have seen R.E.M. or The Connells (or Cutting Crew, for that matter!) back in the day.
Goodnight, Raleigh! (one of my favorite blogs) has a wonderful post on The Underground.
There once, John at Goodnight, Raleigh! writes, "was a time when some of the biggest names in jazz and rock played here, in the most unlikely of locations: Cameron Village.
"In the same way Cameron Village itself was modeled after a shopping plaza in Kansas City, The Village Subway was modeled after the Atlanta Underground. It was a series of restaurants, clubs, boutiques, fashion stores, and a few other shops. Some of the night clubs were The Frog & Nightgown, Cafe Deja Vu, Elliot’s Nest, The Pier, Skyline, The Bear’s Den, Midnight Express, and Soundhaus.
"The entrance to Raleigh’s 'Underground' was a long stairwell that was made to look like the entrance to a subway station in NYC. At the bottom of the stairs were paintings of trains to reinforce the idea. Rather than traditional wall advertisements, there were rectangular paintings of the shops that occupied the underground space. ... It represented a moment in time in which Raleigh was known far and wide for its nightlife and music scene. The number of talented artists that graced the halls of the underground is quite impressive. ..."
No doubt. The aforementioned R.E.M. and The Connells, the Ramones, the Velvet Underground (allegedly). Throw in some giants of the day (Flock of Seagulls, Huey Lews and the News, Eddie Money) and you've got quite a hotspot for live music.
Sadly, "there isn’t much left other than peeling paint and a few spots of the terra cotta tiling. Nothing remains that lends itself to an almost mythical and fabled past. The stairwell (now under the library) has been covered up and paved over."
But please go over to Goodnight, Raleigh! to check out the photos of the fabled Underground.