Historically, punk clubs aren't born. They just sort of happen. CBGB was a country bar before the Ramones made it famous, and our own Satyricon mostly hosted poetry readings until the city's miscreant fringe adopted it as their own.
So when The Know (3728 NE Sandy Blvd., 503-473-8729, theknowpdx.com)—Portland's premier hovel of infernal racket for the past decade—announced its intention to relocate after getting priced out of Alberta Street last fall, the prospect seemed dubious. What were they gonna do, pre-spill gallons of PBR on the floor and tag up the restrooms? How could it ever feel the same?
Only a week after reopening, though, the new Know (the Knew?) already seems like it's seen some shit. Part of that is due to the building itself. In a previous life, the venue was home to indie-rock club Blackbird, so there's probably plenty of beer soaked into the floorboards already. Smartly, owner Ryan Stowe didn't bother patching the holes in the ceiling.
Nor did he give in to the temptation to upgrade the furnishings. Aside from the red velvet curtains, a holdover from previous occupant Tony Starlight's, the signature decor remains: the N.W.A. portrait, the pinball machines, the battered booths, that weird papier-mâché bird thing.
Other than a few fresh murals—including one paying homage to Blowfly, Fred and Toody Cole, and Homer Simpson as Mr. Sparkle—the only dramatic difference is the placement of the stage, which is now on a second level steps away from the bar. A sign above the expanded kitchen reads, "Live Music Nightly Since 2005," and if you'd never been to the Know before, you'd assume it was always in the same place. Well, the restroom needs more graffiti. But "EAT SHIT, KYLE" is a good start.