Rockin’ the Foam Plugs, Another Year at War, and a New Strummer

Dinosaur Jr. ripped their way through an hour-plus set, sending plenty of people running back into the showroom for encore "Freak Scene."

It’s taken me years to become a responsible grown-up and begin wearing ear protection at shows. Despite the reality that my primary source of joy and income comes through my ears, I haven’t regularly exercised the trivial amount of self-discipline it takes to bust out the foam plugs before the amps get turned up to 11 (I swear there was one particular Iron Maiden show that did some real damage that’s entirely my fault). However, thanks to the aural assault provided by Dinosaur Jr. at the Showbox last Friday, I think I’m officially a convert to routine earplug use. As soon as the original lineup of bandleader J Mascis, bassist Lou Barlow, and drummer Murph took the stage, it was painfully apparent that anyone not taking the proper precautions was just asking for a pair of shattered eardrums.

The recently reunited trio made their old-school fans very happy, throwing in plenty of tracks from the early SST days and generally executing their set with an intensity that belied the fact that it’s been 24 years since the band’s inception. They gave the crowd their money’s worth too, ripping their way through an hour-plus set and sending plenty of people running back into the showroom for encore “Freak Scene,” the 1988 song many consider their defining moment.

Up the hill that same night, the War Room two-year anniversary party was in full swing—so full, in fact, that checking out the newly hung Shepard Fairey artwork and tracking down owner Marcus Lalario wasn’t really a practical option, and escaping the crowd seemed more appealing than fighting for space on the rooftop deck. Given that robust turnout, the fact that the venue continues to be fertile ground for sprouting new DJ nights (the classic rock-oriented Slow Ride Sundays is the latest success story), and that the deck is the preferred party spot for notable locals (DJ Cherry Canoe, aka Kerri Harrop celebrated her 40th birthday there the next night), it’s safe to say that the odds on enduring success are in Lalario’s favor. Let’s just hope the encroaching condo crush doesn’t squelch his rosy future.

Speaking of which, the iconic Capitol Hill watering hole that hipsters lavish with equal amounts of lushy love and hate is growing closer to moving out of its soon-to-be condo-ized building on Pine Street. The owners of the Cha Cha Lounge and Bimbo’s are anticipating a mid-June debut in their new Pike Street location, directly across from perpetual hot spot Havana. They promise to retain the photo booth and bring in new entertainment elements, including a foosball table, vending machines (purveying exactly what is unclear, but the mind reels at the possibilities), and “shiny new multiperson bathrooms.”

Foosball and More bathrooms is certainly a good thing, but I’ll take a killer North End house party over a Capitol Hill clusterfuck any night. That’s just what I got at Saturday’s Evil Bunny Films soiree in Ballard. Evil Bunny proprietress (and birthday girl) Jennifer Maas knows how to throw a serious bash. Three floors of revelry were in effect, including a top floor tequila balcony, a basement set up for committed Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero players, plus a backyard BBQ and bonfire. It was a friendly, energetic mix of local indie-film-industry folk and music peeps, including Neumo’s co-owner Steven Severin, Light in the Attic owners Matt Sullivan and Josh Wright (riding high on their recent signing of the Blakes), and KEXP music director Don Yates. Ever the gracious hostess, Maas managed to spend equal time tearing up the dance floor and weaving her way through the crowd with platters of mini corn dogs for her guests. She also updated me on the progress of Wheedle’s Groove, her forthcoming documentary about the early Seattle soul and funk scene. “We are in early postproduction now,” she happily reported. “We’re editing, cataloging, picking up beauty shots, and tracking down archival footage. We hope to finish by the end of this year and do film festivals in the spring, which would probably mean official release in the winter of 2008.” Sounds to me like a fine excuse for another party.

Warm congratulations go to Seattle Weekly music writer Ma’Chell Duma LaVassar and her husband Dan, who welcomed their first child, Strummer Jack LaVassar, this past Sunday evening. Ma’Chell is taking some much-deserved time off, but expect to see her back in these pages soon.