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'Pile of dirty laundry' great place for music
By SONJA S. ZELLER
For the Mirror
Each of the Seattle concert venues, from pub to arena,
hold their own as either a genre hangout or a
footnote in music history. One of the newest sites in
town would be the Skychurch.
As an extension of the Experience Music Project, the Skychurch acts as the
living aspect of this museum of music, allowing fans
to get a little closer to those who are
quite probably part of the exhibits.
I visited the Skychurch recently for the fist time
to see Heart, a band with past and present Seattle
ties, and watched as VH1 recorded the show for an
upcoming concert series.
The show was an invariable success,
despite those distracting cameras. (Honestly I was hoping to see someone get knocked cold by the camera boom, as it would have been a highlight
in audience participation for the evening). These Seattle
sisters have been in the charts since the 1970s and
have pans to put out another album this spring.
The Skychurch itself, however is a prime example of
that odd factor which the Experience Music Project
has become in Seattle. The stylized architecture and
the wild colors of the exterior of the building seem to be a metaphor in the upheaval in music which has taken place within the last 50 to 60
years. The EMP has become an upheaval in its own
right, as the descriptions of the building have
ranged from genius to eyesore, with a stopover in
pile of dirty laundry.
The Skychurch, as an addition
to the Seattle-area music arena, is not any less out-of-the-ordinary. The style and design only add to its singularity.
Intricate lighting, deceiving spatial effects and
unique décor, lends a trendy and mechanical effect
to the venue. Really, it is a great place to hear and
even see a show. The shallow yet wide audience area
allows even the short (such as myself) a chance to see
The design strategy seems to combine a club
and an arena. The audience area allows a limited
amount of attendees, giving shows an intimate feel
you can only find in the smaller clubs.
ceilings and a wide-view screen behind the stage give
the feeling of being in a stadium-size-and-style
building with special effects and lighting. The music,
however, flows through the audience, as opposed to
getting lost in the rafters or sounding muffled by
This odd combo of club and stadium puts the Skychurch
in a class of its own. The polish and posh gives it a
surreal feeling, and as mentioned, the dimensions of
the hall make the stage feel light years away, yet the
band is fully in focus. The awkward strategy and setup
of the place really only lends to the architecture and
décor, which incorporates an ideal venue for the
audience but totally deviates from the feel and
general application of the surrounding Seattle scene.
Some of the truly beneficial aspects of the Skychurch,
however, include location and simple comforts like
parking and refreshment. The Skychurch has a beer
garden-style lounge, and it is smoke-free. This does
allow more shows for all ages, as opposed
to 21-and-over. It offers easy freeway access (the
Seattle Center exit off I-5), and there are copious
amounts of pay parking for the surrounding tourist
attractions. Free parking is available, but you
might want to plan on showing up ahead of time and
wearing hiking boots; most of this parking is at least
a block away.
One last bonus is that a smaller
audience means less traffic before and after the show,
so there in not quite so much post-show gridlock.
Since the Skychurch combines elements of a broader
performing scene, it offers an escape from the usual
aspects of concert venues, even if it does seem
trendy. Although I would not consider it to be the end-all in architecture and design, it does incorporate two very different show experiences
within one space.
I recommend visiting to see a show of your choice, especially if you are just
starting to warm yourself up to the idea of getting into the Seattle music scene. It would also make for a great time if you might be looking to put a little something different into your Saturday night.
Sonja S. Zeller is a freelance writer.