Chop Suey, Once Again, Changes Hands

What it means for Seattle music, the Hill, and Japan.

Whether it was because local Webzine Three Imaginary Girls likes to describe itself as "sparkly," or because it was also TIG's 6th birthday party, the appreciative crowd at last week's "Exile in (Imaginary) Guyville" cover night was very impressively outfitted. It seemed as though every gal in attendance at Chop Suey had pulled out her best frock for the occasion, including the three non-gals who make up Tennis Pro. It's hard to pick a favorite interpretation of the evening, but the boys' fast-paced, pop-punk'd version of "Never Said Nothing" was pretty fantastic. Unsurprisingly, Visqueen's Rachel Flotard did a bang-up job with her choices, particularly "Mesmerizing," a song she had less than two days to learn. TIG's Dana Bos had assured me ahead of time that every artist was perfectly matched to their chosen songs, and this was most evident when lesbionic duo Team Gina executed the raunchy "Shatter" and "Flower" with potty-mouthed, synchronized perfection. In related Chop Suey news, the immediate effects from the sale of the club (which SW broke via our Reverb blog last week) are starting to reveal themselves. For the past year, all touring bands that played Chop Suey were booked by Neumo's co-owners/talent buyers Steven Severin and Jason Lajeunesse, in accordance with an agreement brokered with owner John Villesvik. While some local musicians and promoters legitimately argued that this gave Severin and Lajeunesse an unfair monopoly in the Capitol Hill music-venue market, it was ultimately a good thing for fans of up-and-coming trendsetting acts like Crystal Castles and Fujiya and Miyagi, and for the dance-driven crowd that appreciated the sweaty soirees they coordinated, such as the packed-out Daft Punk afterparty earlier this year. However, in light of the news that Villesvik sold his club to the owners of a Japanese nightclub called K's Dream, those national booking duties will now become current local booker Pete Greenberg's responsibility, and the club will once again have to compete head-to-head with Neumo's. "I think it is what it is," says Lajeunesse with guarded diplomacy. "Contracts come and go. I have no indication as to the commitment to the music industry they have. The representative that is in Seattle seems like a good guy...The end of our contract came suddenly...We were in the dark for the most part, but the liaison for the [new] ownership group seems honest and forthcoming with what little info he had for us. What happens from here with the venue will be interesting to watch." Severin is a little more obviously disappointed, adding, "It's a bummer for us, as I thought as a team Jason and I brought a lot of great things to the club, and still have a lot of great shows coming this fall...I'm sad that I won't be part of the club's life anymore." Greenberg says that part of the goal behind the acquisition of the club is to set up a sort of cross-cultural exchange between the two venues. "They wanted to break into the American market with an American club, so they could do an international exchange with Japanese bands coming here and American bands going there," explains Greenberg. "I think it's a great idea." Hisato Kawaminami, the K's Dream representative now working onsite at Chop Suey, does seem to have a preference for more rock-oriented acts. "He likes rock 'n' roll quite a bit," continues Greenberg. "I can see us taking things a little more in that direction with this place." Further south in Georgetown, Slim's Last Chance Chili finally opened their much-ballyhooed back deck and outdoor stage this weekend, and it was indisputably worth the protracted wait. I honestly can't think of a more enjoyable place for margaritas and live music this summer, and that's exactly what was enjoyed last Saturday when owners Celeste and Michael Lucas threw a classic hoedown, complete with a whole roasted pig, cheap Shiner Bock beer, and a delightful, old-fashioned jug band thumping away on stage. Like a little slice of Austin in Seattle's southern 'hood, Slim's is charming as hell, comfortably laid out, and utterly unaffected. Plus, you can no longer use distance as an excuse for not checking it out. The Lucases have wisely made arrangements with town-car service Crown Black Car for cheap flat rates for rides to and from Slim's from every Seattle neighborhood, including Ballard. Call 72-CROWN for details.

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