The Satyricon is one of those places – one that was built on rock ‘n’ roll history and punk rock swagger. Located at 125 N.W. Sixth Ave., the Satyricon first opened in 1983 and remained in operation for nearly 20 years before closing its doors in 2003. The Satyricon was once a bastion of the Northwest and Portland music scenes. Such luminaries as Nirvana and The Jesus Lizard played there – along with most of the other important, noisy, angry bands of the time. The 400-plus capacity venue is now open again with new owners who are looking to build on the venue’s storied past ﾌ_- but with the goal of becoming the best all-ages venue in town. The Vanguard conducted an e-mail interview with Satyricon co-owner Jeff Urquhart (of www.kingbanana.net):
What prompted you to re-open a club that has been shut down for so long? Are there any other major players involved in the re-opening?
Here’s the story. Mike Wolfson (owner of Loveland) and I are partners.
Mike and I had been working together at Loveland for quite some time when the idea of doing another club came up. I’d been concerned that a lot of the work we’d done would have nowhere to go once Loveland went 21-and-over, and we both felt that there was a really viable all-ages scene in Portland which centered upon “heavier” music. Mike agreed that it would be a shame to see it lose focus in the face of shifting club acumens; so doing a second club seemed like a good idea.
We actually looked at several spaces in town for the new project, and had one pretty well chosen when it fell through at the last minute, and we were left with a lot of momentum and resources and no space. A few days later Mike ran into George T. and asked about the Satyricon, “what [was] happening?”
The opening months will speak for themselves, and I think a lot of folks will draw comparisons to the glory days of the ‘Con, for better or for worse. The main thing that we are after is the feeling the club generated when it was really going – which I think is going to be a sticking point for some because the music has changed some as times have changed. We will be focusing on loud/heavy/noise/hardcore and getting young people into music, which I think was a big part of the original intent of the place, but we won’t be doing it by having Dead Moon/Napalm Beach/Poison Idea every night. Not that we wouldn’t want those bands to play – we very much do – but people seeking nostalgia may be disappointed in the booking if they are looking backwards.
They won’t be disappointed in the rooms, however, as very little has changed. We will be re-building the stage and some structural elements, but anyone coming in from the old ‘Con wouldn’t notice. Fellini and Satyricon will operate pretty much as they did, but will only offer alcohol on special occasions until liquor licensing has been completed. The current plan calls for a full bar, food priced early and served late, shows most nights, and regular hours after licensing (we’re shooting for end of November on the bar).
One side will be all ages, the other will be 21-and-over, and both should have a good view of the stage. We are doing most shows in house, but Bennett from Food Hole, Nate from Nanotear, and Jeff from Wishbone Concerts are going to be doing some shows as well.
What’s different about this version of the Satyricon and what are some key new features that make it a great place to see live music?
`It’s all ages now. Now everyone will be able to enjoy all Satyricon has to offer.
What type of music will the Satyricon be focusing on presenting? Will there be certain genres that are privileged over others?
Pretty much all genres under the rock umbrella. Punk, metal, hardcore, doom, thrash, indie, etc., etc., etc. We’re going to have a wide variety of bands play.
The Satyricon is a club that is steeped in Portland legend and mystique. How do you feel about that legacy, and how does it apply to the way you are operating the club now?
The fact that Satyricon will now be all ages does change things a bit, but overall we just want to bring it back to life. This town really needs a solid all-ages venue for people to call home. Satyricon was, and still is, a very special place and we’re just hoping to carry on its legacy.
Do you have any awesome memories or stories related to the old Satyricon?
Yeah, I’ve got a few. One of the last shows I went to there was with a band by the name of Creation Is Crucifixion. Such an amazing show. As a matter of fact, I remember talking to someone outside before the show who was underage and couldn’t get in so they were listening to the show from outside. Now that kind of thing won’t happen.
All-ages venues seem to be increasing in number around Portland. What sets the Satyricon apart?
Heart. History. Portland needs an all-ages venue for kids to call home.
How do you feel about all-ages shows versus 21-and-over shows?
I prefer being involved in all ages. I remember what it was like growing up in a town that had a real shitty all-ages scene. It was pretty much nonexistent. Portland, on the other hand, has an amazing music scene, but I just don’t think we have any solid all-ages venues with heart. The youth need to be embraced. Especially when it comes to music. This town has enough 21-and-over venues. We’ll eventually have a bar on the Fellini side, but I’d rather focus on all ages. Doing something productive – as opposed to just starting up a venue so people can come get drunk on $4 Pabst.
What difficulties (if any) have you faced getting the Satyricon re-opened?
None really. Things have been pretty smﾌ_ooth sailing – so to speak.