The Funhouse Spirit Will Never Die

A punk palace bids Seattle farewell, for now.

As with many an institution founded on liquor and a punk-rock ethos, if you remember too much about your time at the Funhouse, you probably weren't really there. Since Halloween night 2003, the Funhouse's demented-clown marquee—not to mention the unmistakable smell of industrial-grade cleaner and stale Rainier—have greeted Seattle's rock-'n'-roll faithful and more than a few confused tourists on Fifth Avenue North.

The Funhouse's location helped make it a magnet for all things punk. It's just outside Seattle Center, one of the few areas in town easily accessible via public transit from Capitol Hill and Ballard alike. Such accessibility—a dreamy catch for a developer—ultimately led to its demise. When news hit that the space currently home to the Funhouse would soon be replaced by posh condos, everyone was sad, but no one was surprised.

In a town full of clubs that come and go, what the Funhouse provided for nine years was a near-nightly stellar roster of local and touring acts that explored punk and all its subgenres. But even more impressive was the club's service as a training ground for upstart bands with promise. These baby bands had a place—usually 10 p.m. on a Tuesday—to work things out in front of a live audience when the stakes were low. Whether launching local notables like Grave Babies or burgeoning acts like San Francisco's Nobunny, genius booking agent Brian Foss (host of KEXP's Sonic Reducer) brought his encyclopedic knowledge of punk in all its forms and the keen foresight to see the fledgling diamond sparkling in many large, rough lumps of musical coal. Out-of-towners often heralded the Funhouse as exactly what they imagined Seattle to be: laid-back, charming, grungy without affectation.

Rumors surrounding a new home abound, but the Funhouse, as it stands now until October 31, will be sorely and eternally missed. Via Facebook, Foss assures patrons that the search for a new location is underway. On November 1, as a parting gift, I hope the Funhouse crew leaves behind a vat of industrial cleaner for the owners of those fancy-pants condos, as their sure-to-be pristine glass entry will make one hell of a loogie target for us pissed-off rock fans for years to come.

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