Scene city

Mapping out clubland and counting down to fall's big releases.

The biggest music news over the past few months has been what didn’t happen. Namely, two much-rumored clubs that didn’t open. Sub Pop co-founder Bruce Pavitt bought a warehouse on Capitol Hill and planned to open a DJ-based venue to be booked by Tasty Shows. Then Moe—a bar and restaurant with a 300-capacity showroom—became available, and Tasty created what is now Pavitt has since sold the warehouse. His observation: “Seattle seems to be in good shape as far as live music; on any given night, there must be 10 times as many options as existed back in the mid-’80s.”

The other rumors floating around involve a new midsize live venue in the building at 2325 Fifth Avenue that used to house Neko’s, and before that, Under the Rail. But the building’s new owners are keeping their plans under wraps for the time being.

Seattle could always use another downtown venue. The recent re-opening of that old rocker’s haven, the Off Ramp, isn’t enough, especially since the Showbox’s future has come into question. The building that houses the club is owned by the same company that owns 50 or so Déjà Vu strip joints around the country, and it recently hit the Showbox with an undisclosed but significant rent increase. Don’t get out the handkerchiefs yet. “We have every intention of staying open if we can come to favorable terms,” says Showbox promoter Eric Edwards. “Our lease is up next February, and for the past three months we’ve been in negotiations.”

While hipsters debate over the décor (Is the sun-bleached color scheme boring or soothing? Is all that open space too bare or just bare enough?), the political crystal ball reveals that Mark Sidran’s ever-evolving club ordinance will remain mired in the discussion phase. (The latest action: changing the name of the permit needed to operate a nightclub from “entertainment permit” to “added entertainment permit.”) At this pace, the ordinance will probably straggle into council committee by November.

Meanwhile, expect to fight to maintain the current noise ordinance; there’s a proposal afoot to give police officers the power to issue citations without warnings if their specially provided noise meters register an illegal decibel level from 15 feet outside a club’s door.

We’re still waiting for the city to tackle the real club nuisances—those pants with the 70-inch hems.

The plethora of musical options extends to your living room stereo: Local labels have several gems coming up, and local bands have been busy studio worker bees. September 22 is a big date for Seattle music fans, with new releases from Mudhoney, Tomorrow Hit Today (let the revival begin); Hovercraft, Experimental Below (warm up the projector); Sunny Day Real Estate, How It Feels to Be Something On (wonder if Perry Farrell knows his notebook’s been stolen?); and Murder City Devils, Empty Bottles, Broken Hearts (currently in heavy rotation as the Sub Pop office’s telephone “hold” music, in case you want a preview).

In late October, we can look forward to a new full-length from Oly duo 764-HERO (Get Here and Stay) on Up Records. The label also plans another sampler, this one featuring new songs from its bands as well as some material previously available only on vinyl. In December, Up delves into remix land, as Stereolab, Land of the Loops, Tortoise, My Bloody Valentine, To Rococo Rot, and others practice their magic on tracks from the Pastels’ latest record, Illumination. January or February will see Alan Sutherland’s next Land of the Loops full-length, and Quasi already has the songs written for another full-length—tentatively scheduled for a summer ’99 release.

The fledgling label Made In Mexico will borrow singer-songwriter Damien Jurado from Sub Pop for a one-off EP at the end of October. In the winter, MIM plans to release an EP from Stations (Johnathon Ford accompanied by Pedro the Lion’s David Bazan and the Vogues’ K.C. Wescott).

Sometime this fall, Sweet Mother will release the debut full-length from deep-house duo Tripoli. For the DJs in the house, Conception plans an unmixed, vinyl version of its recent CD Walkman Rotation, and another Four-Fifths 12-inch, “Questions,” both due on December 8. On the lo-fi side of the dance floor, Slabco will unleash a new Volume All-Star full-length in early November. Around that time, they’ll also release the second of four 12-inches from Sientific American (former Hush Harbor­ite Andy Rohrmann); the other two will come out every couple of months until all four are compiled onto a full-length release this spring.

Tentatively set for January release on RX Remedy, home of Red Stars Theory and Mars Accelerator among others, are a Welcome full-length, and a label compilation. Loosegroove’s early ’99 schedule includes Like a Lion, the long-anticipated dub/dance hall record from Hi Fi Killers, and a live recording of an April OK Hotel performance by Ponga, a collaborative jazz/groove group featuring Critters Buggin saxophonist Skerik, jazz luminaries Wayne Horvitz and Bobby Previtte, and Dave Palmer of MC 900 Ft. Jesus.

In late October, honorary Seattle band the Afghan Whigs release 1965, their first post-Elektra release. Prepare yourself for more tales of debauchery, this time with a string section and some “New Awlins”­influenced lyrics—voodoo and (psychic) vampires.

The Whigs’ old home, Sub Pop, will unleash the new Sebadoh in early January. Then, sometime in February, look forward to the full-length debut from the Music Tapes, a side project from Julian Koester of indie-pop stars Neutral Milk Hotel. Advance word is that the vehemently anti-TV band plans a six-month tour, during which time it’ll only play houses (in living rooms, in fact, literally in front of people’s TVs). You’ll be able to call an 800 number to book the band into your condo, co-op, apartment, or hunting lodge.

Now if somebody in Seattle would only open a full-time, financially viable all-ages club—or at least persuade Richard Lee to cut his hair.