Until Slayer moves to Pittsburgh and gets into the caffeine business, Black Forge Coffee House, in Allentown, is the most metal café in town. Black is the motif, you’ll find a rune-style shop logo on your way to the espresso bar, and walls are lined with abstract local art not often found in your standard Cultural District gallery.
And the options for using the full-time coffee shop/part-time venue are just about endless. Wanna have an ambient drone show? Done. A bi-monthly BYOB art show? No problem. A place to hold your pro-marijuana-legalization group’s meetings? You found the place.
“I don’t think there’s something I’m fully against, unless [it’s a] Donald Trump rally,” says Ashley Corts, who co-owns the space with Nick Miller.
To rent out the intimate, 49-capacity room, whether for a lineup of high school pop-punkers or black-metal bands, the fee is $50 for the night. If you need someone to run sound, a friend of Black Forge will do that and record the show for another $50. (This weekend, for example, the space will host local folk-punk artist Homeless Gospel Choir).
“We love giving opportunities to people that need [them] because we are the same way. No one gave us the opportunity until now, and to give that to other people and share what we’ve been through is fucking awesome,” Corts says.
Corts has been working at coffeeshops and doing concert lighting design for years, and Miller has toured in bands. When they opened Black Forge last August, they wanted the space to reflect their personalities.
“Music is our life,” Corts says. “We’ve always done it. We’ve always been in it.”
Corts has history in Allentown, having lived there while attending the Art Institute of Pittsburgh for digital media and filmmaking. A café seemed like just what the neighborhood needed. The shop is still finding its feet, but Corts and Miller are doing all they can to keep Black Forge going for years to come.
“I am the most broke I have ever been in my entire life,” Corts says. “But it’s so worth it, to do this and be happy.”