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Monday, September 07, 2015

#2394 #S1206 - The Fenix, Seattle - 1/11/2014

The Fenix rises in Seattle for the 6th time, this one at
124 S. Washington, previous locale of the Last Supper Club
Update: This version of the Fenix closed sometime in June or July 2014.

This short-lived version in the former Last Supper Club space was the sixth incarnation of Rick Wyatt's Fenix club in Seattle, and not quite as epic as a couple of its predecessors. The one indelible memory I will retain of this one was watching the Seahawks win Super Bowl XLVIII there. So rather than recount the relatively unremarkable life of this one, I thought I'd take a quick look at Seattle Fenix history, and some of my visits there over the years.

As best I can reassemble it, the Fenix locations have been:
  • 1992-1993 - The Fenix Cafe, 111 Yesler (subsequently the Bohemian, now Trinity)
  • 1993-2001 - The Fenix Underground, 323 2nd Ave (formerly Hollywood Underground, below what is now 88 Keys)
  • 1994-2001 - The Fenix Above Ground, 313/315 2nd Ave 
  • 2003-2006 - The New Fenix, 109 S. Washington (now Swannies)
  • 2006-2007 - Fenix SoDo, 1700 1st Ave S. (previously Premier, now Showbox SoDo)
  • 2014 - The Fenix, 124 S. Washington (previously Last Supper Club, now Box House Saloon)

Jubilant Seahawks fans celebrate Seattle's first Super Bowl win
at the Fenix, Feb 2, 2014
The Fenix Cafe was primarily a blues club, and some of the following versions were to some extent, although the styles of music and events exploded into any number of themes, from funk to rockabilly to goth industrial. Wyatt partnered with Mike Galloway, Mike Lagervall and John Corbett (who played the DJ on "Northern Exposure" and was a regular at the Fenix Cafe) to open the Fenix Underground in the basement space of the former Hollywood Underground, opening on New Year's Eve 1992 with Duffy Bishop and the Rhythm Dogs. A year later they took the ground level space next door and turned it into the Fenix Above Ground. These lasted until the building was severely damaged in the 2001 Nisqually earthquake.

Ambyr and friend, at the original Fenix in Seattle for the
Siouxsie Sioux show, May 10, 1999
These were a terrific place to see shows -- big enough to get some great international acts, but maintaining a very intimate feel, and pulsing with energy; for acts that I've seen several other places, the Fenix shows were almost always my favorites. Some of my best memories there were Einsturzende Neubauten, the Brian Setzer Orchestra, Siouxsie Sioux, Sky Cries Mary, the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, and the Genitorturers. Some other fine nights were the gothy events of fashion, music, and various vendors, such as the Christmas Balls or Bazaar Events. The Neubauten show in December 1998 was particularly meaningful to me. I had recently gone to see an event in Key Arena with several bands I liked, including Garbage and Hole, where I had been utterly, interminably bored. I was approaching 40 and despaired that perhaps rock music would just never be exciting to me again. So the Neubauten show was a thrilling revelation -- not only an electric show, but clarifying that it was not the music but rather the arena-sized venues that had lost me.

The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, Fenix Underground
Oct. 31, 1998
After the disastrous earthquake, Wyatt and Lagervall re-opened the Fenix in another multi-level space in Pioneer Square in May 2003. Here too I have memories of many great shows and events, but my favorites were the "Moonday" nights -- costume balls on the Mondays closest to a full moon, each with a theme based on a color and/or a particular tarot card. A few of the many shows I enjoyed here were Hate Dept., Ministry, Hanzel und Gretyl, My Life with the Thrill Kill Cult, Go Like Hell, Betty X, Bozo Porno Circus, the Genitorturers, and Drag Strip Riot.

Bozo Porno Circus, at the New Fenix, May 26, 2003
I also saw several bands I liked at the SoDo location of the Fenix, but this was never the fun space that the others were, and to this day I wince a little when a band I like is booked for the big, boring, concrete floored rectangle that is now Showbox SoDo. Similarly, the abortive attempt to rise from the ashes in the much smaller space formerly occupied by the Last Supper Club didn't seem very distinguished or much of attraction to me -- though who knows what would have developed if it had live more than half a year. But over the years I've had many a memorable night at these clubs, and if the Fenix rises again, I'll be there.

The gal on the left snatched my camera and took this selfie
at the New Fenix in 2003
"Moonday," May 2003 at the New Fenix
"Moonday," The New Fenix, Seattle
Cinco de Mayo 2006, at the New Fenix, Seattle
124 S Washington St, Seattle, WA 98104 - (206) 748-9975
Est. Dec 31, 2013 - Closed June/July 2014 - Building constructed: 1909
Previous bars in this location: The Last Supper Club, Dutch Ned's, Borderline Saloon
Subsequent bar: Box House Saloon
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Reviews: edshawentertainmentdancemusicnw - examiner - king5 (video)

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