The Bar: Right alongside the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (Ballard Locks, if you're nasty) nests the Lockspot Cafe. Boasting a great selection of microbrews on tap conveniently ranked from lightest to darkest, plenty of elbow room and a menu full of greasy comfort food, Lockspot immediately seemed like an ideal venue for a pub quiz with meager production and high character.
Lockspot Cafe's merchandise claims it's "The Deadliest Bar," which is a fun nod to them having a few episodes of The Deadliest Catch filmed there -- but a quaint and peaceful demeanor makes that title sound pretty silly until it does something seriously evil, like put Four Loko on draft.The Quiz: (Monday, 8PM, $5 per team) Lockspot's quiz consists of three rounds of ten general knowledge questions, with two novel intermissions to be explained later. First place winners get the pot and gift certificates to the Lockspot that can be used the week of victory or the week after. Finally, last place gets an empty glass, symbolizing the emptiness and waste of a mind improperly conditioned for trivia (or, more likely, symbolizing the mountain of promotional material the bar wants to get rid of).
Questions were generally pretty on target with their crowd -- besides a one-off Glee question from Erin that seemed to set off a wall of groans from the plethora of gruff males that made up most of Lockspot's attendance. Rob's own biases have caused some rumblings in the past as well, claiming a crippling affinity for British history and soccer trivia. However, both hosts say the vocal crowd keeps them humble towards building a more answerable quiz.
The Host(s): "Please don't shout out any answers if you aren't playing. More often than not, you're wrong and not funny." The succinct honesty of Co-Quizmaster Rob Rayburn set an amusing pace for Lockspot's night of entertainment, although trusted confederate Erin O'Roak would read the first round. The duo started hosting at the Lockspot in June as a larger group of cooperative hosts that slowly dwindled down to the present core.
In addition to simply "panic at 4PM," Rob and Erin describe their basic quizmaking structure as follows: one writes the first and third round while the other writes the second as well as the bonus picture round. The two rotate every week, probably to keep each other from burning each other out on the tempermental printers that inevitably follow printing out that many tiny pictures.
Special Effects: As mentioned earlier, two intermission mini-games break up the rounds of general knowledge. The picture round is pretty straightforward if you've been to any other trivia nights, although it seems to owe a lot of its specific format to Ryen over at The Rat and The Raven (a tendency made more clear by the fact that Rob listed one of his favorite quiz nights as The Iron Bull, another one of Ryen's trivia territories).
The real novelty of the night was the "Heads or Tails" competition that makes up the break between the first and second round of trivia. Here, the hosts decide to flip a coin for a short while. All competitors are encouraged to stand up and either put their hands on their head or hips depending on how they think the coin will land, and graciously take themselves out of the race when they get it wrong. The last person standing gets some free beer (or, for the conservatives, prior drinks taken off their tab). It's simple and silly, but it does something embarassingly unheard of in most other pub quizzes: get people off their asses.
If that weren't enough, three ultra-hard questions are asked at the end of the quiz for the chance at a progressive jackpot, which had reached over a hundred unclaimed dollars as of press time.
The Verdict: Though seemingly new to Seattle's trivia hosting scene, Rob and Erin have an innate attention to momentum and question variety that easily commands the room. While some trivia nights have enough bells and whistles to hide poor pacing and imbalanced questions, Lockspot keeps it simple, tight and fresh with two MCs and a microphone.
When asked about expanding, they simply said that they were fine with the Lockspot. They consider their present situation both fun and manageable -- why ruin a good thing with ambition and fancy?