By now we assume you have heard that Satyricon is closing. Again.
While it's easy to get caught up in the nostalgia, the myth (Kurt and Courtney totally/maybe boned on the floor there!), and revisionist history (Does no one remember The Icon, the nightclub that sprouted up there following their initial closure in 2003?) that surrounds Portland's most legendary loved/hated punk venue, the downtown institution's final days are upon us. The MacDonald Center purchased the building awhile back, stringing the venue along with partial six month leases that only delayed the inevitable: the construction of an outreach housing center that would shutter Satyricon for good. As far as punk clubs getting crushed under the wheels of progress, this is not CBGBs versus gentrification. It's kind of hard to argue against a shelter.
But in order to shed some light on the venue's demise, it's promising future in a new (yet very familiar) all-age space, and the final show on Halloween, we talked to Satyricon's co-owner and current booker, Jeff Urquhart.
MERCURY: I know the MacDonald Center purchased the building awhile back and this seemed inevitable, so why the announcement now?
JEFF URQUHART: Well, the problem was we hadn't gotten a huge commitment as far as 'Hey, we're not doing this right now, let's give you a big long lease extension so you can guys can be here for a couple years.' It's been more like, 'Well, we can only do this about six months at a time.' There's just no commitment there that is long term, and we understand that because once they get their funding they have to move quickly.
That has been our biggest hurdle, because we can't renovate the venue on a constant six month lease, every six months. Not to mention that when you know the end is inevitable, what can you do? Do you just keep doing that? Or do you say 'let's uproot and go somewhere else. Start again.'
Was there any thought to moving the club to a new location? Satyricon East, perhaps?
Mike [Wolfson, Satyricon's co-owner] and I talked about it, and I think we are both on the same page. It just didn't feel right... Satyricon was Satyricon and I don't think it makes sense to do it somewhere else, it would be like ripping off the name... I mean that place is Satyricon.
Was it hard to book so far in advance knowing that the club's days were numbered?
It was pretty difficult, but like I said, we have a plan. In fact we're really excited about the new plan. We're going over to the old Loveland/B-Complex/Meow Meow space [under Rotture, off SE 3rd]. It will give us more space, we'll have more room to do things that we didn't do at Satyricon. We're going to uproot and go there, everyone loved that space.
So it'll be a venue downstairs from Rotture, but one totally separate from their operation?
Yeah, I should know more about venues seeing how I've been booking shows for years, but back East they have spaces that are multiple venues in one, all run by the same people. Basically it is this big playground for people who love music.
What's on tap for the final show on Halloween?
We're kind of trying to mix old with new. Originally we were going to do all old bands—like all punk and hardcore bands that used to play Satyricon back in the day—but it's kind of hard to come up with a huge list of bands that are all still together. So we thought maybe we could close out the night with three or four bands that used to be big at Satyricon and kind of bring out the old crowd and the history. Then have some of the bands that I've dealt with over the last four years that have been a big part of Satyricon. We have bands that are practically house bands, they play there every month or two, and we want them to be a part of this as well.
What is going to happen to the landmark items in the building? Will there be an auction? Can I buy the urinal?
We haven't really gotten to that point yet. But there is probably going to be something like that.
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