Oh Southeast Portland, what a hot little bitch you're becoming. You got rontom's and Le Pigeon and that awesome little thrift store in between that stays open late on the weekends. Buildings are getting knocked down and built up every week it seems.
Yeah, so you took a little hit last week when the Storefront closed. But you still managed to kick me out of my refrigerator box of an apartment just to offer it back to me for only $150,000. Fuck you, anyway. Like I needed another reason to see you again.
And still, you went ahead and gave me one.
The newest guaranteed time-suck is East End (203 SE Grand), a bar/venue/gallery led by Nice Boys guitarist Gabe Lageson, Soda Pop Kids bassist Anthony Mengis [check out Employee of the Week on pg. 17], and the not-in-a-band Michele McDonnell. They're cracking the doors open with a party Saturday, December 1, and they've got a few plans to help their club stand out.
"We never want to compromise," explains Lageson, who wants to avoid East End's being pigeonholed as simply a venue. "If there are no shows we want to book on a particular night we simply won't do it."
So they're leaning toward quality, not quantity, which in Portland's oversaturated scene, is a good thing. On the books already for this month are Danava, the Hunches, and others. And although Lageson and Mengis come from rock 'n' roll backgrounds, they're open to all types of shows, "as long as they're good."
Having worked at all kinds of Portland landmarks like Che What?, the Virginia Café, and the (original) Satyricon, Lageson and Mengis say they've "seen all the mistakes there are to make," especially when it comes to running a venue. Lageson has booked bands at Dante's and Mt. Tabor, and the two did a brief stint together running the Chinese Tea House way back when.
McDonnell brings experience to the food, business, and art-related aspects of East End. Growing up in family of restaurateurs, McDonnell has gone on to throw local art and fashion shows, as well helping manage the opening of Portland's American Apparel shops.
Along with live music and food there will be themed DJ nights, art shows, and god knows what else. But for my money, the underground show-hall portion of East End looks most promising. It's a nice size—not too big, not too small—and the ambiance is there (Shanghai tunnels that come all the way from the west side!). Because even with all the experience in the world, you still need a bit of magic, right? And well, in a historic building with three distinct rooms on two floors, East End is off to a good start.