In a matter of weeks, the fabled intimate, smoky Towne Lounge venue will be no more. Owner Angelo Puccinelli is hanging up his show-promoting hat (Halloween will be the club's final night open) and vacating the space, which will soon becoming something more ominous, frightening, and sinister than its former use—supposedly a haunted mausoleum—ever was: cubicles. That's scary. But before the room, and its fabled green lamp (AKA the "hipster beacon"), fade into the darkness forever to take their place in the great showspace in the sky, Puccinelli took a moment to talk about the closing of Towne Lounge and his take on the oversaturated market for musical venues.
MERCURY: Why is the Towne Lounge closing its doors?
PUCCINELLI: Basically, the Towne Lounge, it earns its keep—it just didn't earn enough to reimburse me for my effort. I always kind of considered it somewhat of a nonprofit entity, and it was kind of my own personal patronage to the arts here in Portland.
Is this something that has been in the works for a while?
I've been contemplating closing for the last year or so and I've held out. I opted not to renew my lease and to just sell off my equipment.
Did the current music climate have anything to do with the decision to shut down?
I think that the Towne Lounge would have worked 10, 15 years ago—à la X-Ray Café. I think that venues are somewhat oversaturated in Portland and rents are overly, artificially inflated. It's just not really a very good time right now to do something in a more underground, heartfelt, do-it-yourself kind of a way. It's just the circumstances in the environment. It's not like we didn't have enough recognition, the Towne Lounge was just too hyper-specialized, and I think that's probably the deal. People came here to see specific acts, and if I didn't have those acts booked, we never opened. The location wasn't really good for pedestrian traffic, and in my experience, if you have a place that people can't go and at the very least get laid instead of having a good time, it's never going to have a great profit potential.