From its rustic wooden aesthetic to the John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan memorabilia hanging on the walls, the venue is noticeably different from its counterparts. The 477-capacity room located on the second floor of Hard Rock Seattle has a corporate feel thanks to the Hard Rock name, but it also allows you to do more than just drink and stand around watching live music: You can grab a table and get some food while you're at it. This should bode well for the club given the limited local options for dining and catching a rock show.
As for the evening’s entertainment, Red Jacket Mine delivered a solid set of material from its latest album “Lovers Lookout,” with a few covers thrown in for good measure. Produced by Ken Stringfellow, a lot of material on the record sounds like what might happen if The Posies and The Wallflowers had a baby. The band, which was finishing up a month-long stint as the club’s first local artist in residence, is one of those rare acts that bridge the gap between Western music and indie rock.
In this performance, two things held true. The first was the excellent musicianship of lap steel guitarist Patrick Porter. From the opener “So Long, Radiant Flower” to the closing number, a cover of “Let’s Go” by The Cars, he practically stole the show.
The second involved technical troubles. Throughout the night there were sound issues — guitars drowning out vocals, or drums hitting too hard. The problems were never so terrible that they detracted from the musicianship, but when the music sounds better through speakers in the bathroom, there's a problem.
Put it this way: If the club were part of the local music scene’s wardrobe it would be a stiff new pair of jeans — exciting to have but not yet worn-in enough to be comfortable. I’m guessing once people catch wind of the happy hour deals during weekday show hours (half-price beer, wine and appetizers between 8 and 11 pm) the venue will get plenty of use. Some of the options include potato skins that sell for $5 and a massive plate of nachos for $6. But don’t expect the staff to gloat about the happy hour. I wasn’t offered a menu upon entry and had to track one down after being seated for more than an hour. It seemed the music, not the food, was the focus.
Attendance Tuesday was sparse, around 50 people. Fortunately, unlike other local venues Hard Rock Seattle's room doesn’t have to rely on attendance to stay in business. The restaurant will help keep it afloat. Once the minor sound issues are fixed and word gets out about the dining options, expect the place to become a happening hotspot for live music.
Decide for yourself whether the club makes for a good addition to Seattle’s music scene: Local country star Blaine Larsen takes the stage tonight (March 31), and vaudevillian popsters Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground play the venue Friday (April 2). Both shows start at 8 p.m., at 116 Pike St., and cost $10.
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