Of all the venues scattered on our city's map, few can match the sheer intimacy of East End. With its quaint stage and underground bar, this Southeast venue respectfully mimics the cozy personality of a basement show—but without the terrifying possibility of your skull scraping low-hanging plumbing pipes, or that lingering, inescapable, moldy musk synonymous with Pacific Northwest basements—yet still maintains a personality entirely their own. So in honor of the former Rabbit Hole venue celebrating its first-year anniversary—with a dizzying month-long series of shows which starts next week and climaxes on the final day of the year—owners Gabe Lageson and Michele McDonnell take a moment to talk about the venue's first 12 months, and the future of East End.
MERCURY: Congratulations on the one-year anniversary of East End. How would you summarize your first year of existence?
GABE LAGESON: A whirlwind, to be honest. My whole life, personal and professional, has been wrapped up in keeping this place going and I'm just finally at a point now where I can focus on my music, family, and friends again.
MICHELE McDONNELL: We've been lucky enough to have an amazing roster of artists, bands, and DJs in our first year. Hopefully our goal to have a consistent quality mix of music and art was achieved.
Given the ridiculous nature of Monotonix's live show [the Israeli band notorious for extreme and unpredictable performances is performing at East End on December 30] are you at all concerned for what they might do to the space? You're insured, right?
GL: I can't wait to see how they rise to the challenge of trying to stand on our bar while playing drums. Yeah, we're insured. We are knocking out part of the downstairs ceiling and raising the stage a foot to improve the line of sight, so you'll be able to see them without standing on the benches.
MM: We are so excited! I think it's the perfect space; our bar is sturdy and has yet to be partied on, surprisingly. Just no hanging from the sprinklers, please.
Other than the upcoming anniversary shows, any future plans for East End?
GL: We are going to work on doing more events that aren't based just on shows. It's easy to get lost in being a venue, and we always promised ourselves we'd do more, so as touring season slows down we are introducing more theme nights like the one-time-only return of Boat Drinks and a new dance party called Ice Creem Sundays. We are also planning a night for ladies to come in, drink, and get their hair done, as well as a gaming night, and lots of other fun stuff to keep folks warm and happy when these Portland winters make you feel like you're trapped in a Wipers or Poison Idea song. We are also going to do some remodeling and are really excited about cleaning and painting after the smoking ban. I can't wait to wake up without a "cigarette hangover."
For more information on the East End, and a full lineup of their anniversary shows, visit eastendpdx.com.