It's tempting to figure that Marcus Lalario named his new, 350-person-capacity Capitol Hill club the War Room (722 E. Pike St.; 206-328-7666) in tongue-in-cheek fashion. After all, as one of the men behind Yo! Son, the popular hip-hop club night that's switched from Neumo's to the new venue, and the eclectic Stuck Under the Needle record label, Lalario seems like he's on a mission to take over Seattle's nightlife. And where better to hold strategy meetings than . . . ?
Of course, that isn't quite the idea. "[The War Room's space] was a lease that I got when I was 19 years old," said Lalario shortly before the club's invitation-only soiree on Saturday, March 26. "I had this club, the Beatbox, there, and someone came and bought the business from me, but I stayed the landlord. At the end of December, the owner of the building called and let me know I might have the opportunity to get the building back, because legally, it was mine, and I would be responsible for the rent. So I remodeled it."
Indeed he did. Split into a bar-decked front room and a larger (about twice as big) dance/lounge area with a striking antiwar mural by artist Obey, it's dark but appealingly loose—and it'll probably be looser when it isn't as crushingly full as it was on opening night. That's partly because of the good will Yo! Son has built up over the years, and partly because, especially on a rainy Saturday night, there are no two more magical words in the English language for city-dwelling hipsters than open bar. Especially one as toweringly stacked as the War Room's—the back spread appeared to have at least one bottle of everything you can imagine, as well as several beers, including Guinness, on tap.
"At first we wanted to do a little loungey bar," Lalario says. "I'd been doing this club [promotion] shit since I was 14. So I said, fuck it, let's get some liquor and do it. I didn't even have plans to move Yo! Son there—it was gonna go a little bit longer [at Neumo's], but we just decided that's the way it would go. There's no ill will against Neumo's."
Also at the War Room was SW music listings editor and staff writer Andrew Bonazelli, preparing to do more than party. At the end the week, Andrew will be moving to Philadelphia to work as reviews editor for Decibel, the upstart extreme metal magazine run by occasional SW contributor Albert Mudrian. Decibel is my favorite American music magazine right now—smart, superbly written, funny as hell, all too cognizant that the music that is its reason for being isn't all that's out there, and just as aware of why that music is worth both mocking and celebrating. It's a magazine after Andrew's heart and writing style, and knowing that just makes his loss all the more acute. Godspeed, dude, and don't forget to write (for) us once in a while.