Arts and Entertainment

'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 band.

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.

Cathedral

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

concrete.

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.

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