To any readers or previous employers who have followed my career in the local music industry, it's no secret that I'm no fan of the Capitol Hill club scene. I spend a great deal of time at Neumos and the Comet, but generally speaking, I feel that the most vital punk, hip-hop, alt-country and metal music that's being made in the margins happens on the north end of Seattle. Thankfully, the Funhouse is there to fill in the gaps.
However, the War Room has held a special place in my heart since proprietor Marcus Lalario opened its doors in March of 2005. Bridging the gaps between Seattle's hip-hop, electronica, rock and punk communities was obviously something that venue cared about from the beginning. More importantly, it was never forced; it was goddamned organic. The space on Pike and Harvard was seemingly cursed for a while, but Lalario threw his heart, soul, and broad sense of quality party time into his space. For many, many weeks, I soothed my soul on Monday nights by hitting Circle of Fire, an intoxicating and exhilarating breakdance exhibition that kicked my ass and blew my mind on a regular basis. Whether it was the resurrection of seminal funk night Yo! Son or Lisa Orth's latest lesbionic dance party, he never shied away from mixing unlikely social groups or the musical genres that might bring them together. I have no idea why the War Room has shut down, all I have is publicist Kerri Harrop's press release (after the jump), but I do know that shuttering those doors is a loss to this community that deserved to be mourned.
CAPITOL HILL NIGHTCLUB THE WAR ROOM WILL CLOSE NOVEMBER 30, FUTURE REMAINS UNCERTAIN
Seattle, WA, November 10, 2009 -- After nearly five years of holding down the block at Harvard and Pike, on Capitol Hill, the War Room's current ownership will close its doors November 30. The future of the popular nightclub remains uncertain.
The club, which opened in March, 2005, is officially for sale. Although there are interested buyers in place, no change of ownership has yet been confirmed.
"We feel like we've had a good run of it," said Marcus Lalario. "It's time to move on to other projects, while we're ahead of the game." Lalario and his business partner, Brian Rauschenbach, will continue to run their other joint venture, bar/eatery Captain Blacks, and both remain invested in a variety of Seattle businesses.
The War Room made an immediate impact on Seattle nightlife, with popular DJ nights and a slew of live entertainment. With its open-air rooftop deck and tasteful modern décor, the venue quickly became a favorite amongst club goers.
Known primarily for hip hop and dance nights such as Yo, Son!, Ring The Alarm, Cherry, Hot Mess, and 2080's, the mid-size venue also played host to a variety of live shows over the years.
Band of Horses, Cave Singers, Wolf Parade, Chromeo, and Brawley Banks are just a few of the bands to play the War Room. Most recently, the club hosted a pre-Halloween show with Mad Rad and Champagne Champagne, where Mayor-elect Mike McGinn took the stage to introduce the headliners.
"It was one of our favorite shows to date," said Peter Robinson, aka P SMOOV, of Mad Rad. "And the fact that the Mayor welcomed us back to Party Mountain really made it extra awesome."
With custom artwork from Shepard Fairey/OBEY gracing its walls, and a host of fundraisers, benefits, and politically minded events under its belt, the War Room has successfully melded nightlife culture with loftier pursuits over the years.
"One of our most memorable nights to date was definitely the Obama Election Party," Rauschenbach said, recalling the capacity crowd and overwhelming goodwill. "We had everyone from Pearl Jam to almost every local DJ of note in the house, all hugging and celebrating." The event raised thousands of dollars for local nonprofit, Treehouse For Kids.
The War Room also served as campaign headquarters for Mayor-elect Mike McGinn on Election Night.
"We honestly feel like we made a difference in the city with the War Room," Lalario said. "But, with so many issues still facing nightlife, we're ready to move on. The liquor tax increase, mounting pressures from the City and State helped us make the decision," he added.
Lalario confirmed that War Room staff members, as well as promoters that work with the venue, were notified of the impending closure last week.
"We've been blessed with a tremendous staff over the years," Lalario said. "We've been lucky to work with so many great people over the years, and we've got nothing but love for our crew."