I'M NO STATISTICIAN, but I'd say that, oh, 99 percent of all motion-picture audiences walk out as soon as the credits begin to roll. What? They don't care who the gaffer was? The casting director? The best boy?!
Likewise, your average show-going Jane or Joe has almost no idea who makes Friday night come to life. Who books the show? Who promotes it? Who orders the veggie tray for the green room? Unless you're some kind of industry-insider loser, you hardly ever get a chance to find out, but since there are three clubs in town with new (or fairly new) faces manning the phones and making things happen, we thought we'd introduce them.
THE FIRST NEW face isn't new at all, and the new club he's booking really isn't, either. The Fun House (206 Fifth Ave. N., 206-374-8400) occupies the space once known as Zak's, the little punk-rock shoe box just south of EMP. For years now, Brian Foss has been the go-to guy in the underground garage and punk scene. When Gibson's was the place to play, Foss was there. When Industrial Coffee was the spot, Foss was on it. In fact, he says he prefers to stick to the "small, smelly bars." Now that's a man with standards.
"Ever since I was a kid, I've been surrounded by music," says Foss. "Everyone in my family played something. My dad collected records and was always putting some weird stuff on the turntable. I started buying music when I was 9 years old, so I feel honored that I've been able to do shows with my favorite local bands.
"I have one main issue when it comes to booking: Ideally, I want to put on shows that I would be willing to pay to go see myself," says Foss, who makes his own ends meet by working the swing shift at a facility for the mentally ill. "Since I'm at 99 percent of the shows I book, I feel like my first job is to entertain myselfif I ain't having fun, why should I expect other people to?"
So what's Foss' ultimate idea of fun? Here's what he had to say when I asked him what his dream bill would beto book or to see.
"Just off the top of my head, I would love to do a show with the Undertones circa Hypnotised, Gary Numan circa the first Tubeway Army album, the Kinks around their third album, and maybe the Monks. Oh yeah," he adds, remembering a Seattle garage band that had a few singles on Empty Records 10 or so years ago, "I'd talk the Solid Statesmen into doing a reunion gig, too! Throw in Motorhead during their Fast Eddie Clark days and put it at Gibson's and gimme a drink!"
FOSS FREQUENTLY BOOKS local band the Spits, whose bass player and singer, Erin Wood, along with his stunningly stylish girlfriend, Jessie Lowe, figures prominently in the "group effort" that is the Hideaway (2219 Fourth Ave., e-mail email@example.com). Opening in December (provided all the permit paperwork goes through) and taking the place of what was the Sit & Spin, the Hideaway is helmed by Dirtnap Records impresario Dave Eck, but don't expect a one-note space. Wood, Lowe, Eck, and their collaborators want the Hideaway to be an "open space for expressive people."
"It can take on anything," says Lowe of the Belltown space. "We want everyone from Black Dice to Troubleman bands to Black Flag reunion tours. If we like it, we want it here. We're planning on having movie nights, art showings, and DJ nights as well as live music. There's not really a specific genre we're trying to fill."
And with the laundromat out of the equation (Lowe says some folks associated with the indie mag Vice are putting a cafe where the front-loaders used to be), things are pretty wide open.
"It might take some time but once people see how swell it is there, who knows? We don't know. We just want see what happens," says Lowe. We do, too.
BOTH FOSS AND LOWE say they're not at all intimidated by the competition of new or established clubs, and Lowe says she suspects that neighboring Belltown bars and venues will welcome the increased foot traffic. Just a few blocks away at the Crocodile (2200 Second Ave., 206-441-5611), Texas-via-Chicago transplant Joan Hiller is just about as welcoming as they come. The girl effuses energy, enthusiasm, and hospitality.
"I've got plenty of ideas, and a lot of people have been telling me their ideas, too, since I'm the new lady," says Hiller, who moved here not just to take over the promotions gig at the Croc, but because her boyfriendBen Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutielives here.
Hiller, too, is a familiar name for many in the music communityshe's done band press for Hopper PR; written for Alternative Press, RollingStone.com, and a load of alternative weeklies across the country; and toured Europe with the indie band Owls. She even played a show with Gibbard in Spain that was, in her words, a disaster.
But still, when I ask her to describe her dream job, having experienced all manner of music-related business, she describes her current gig.
"I love it here," she says. "I'm home."