ALL THE REAL GIRLS: Marti Wyman, Courtney Love, Ursula Wehr and Robin D. Barbur at Satyricon circa 1986. IMAGE: David Ackerman
This AM Northwest segment from 1981 is an interesting primer from the pre-Satyricon age of Portland music. Among those in the invited audience are the Unreal Gods, Napalm Beach’s Chris Newman (in the suit jacket with black wave of hair) and Fred and Toody Cole (pre-Dead Moon, they speak here as members of the Rats). Many of these folks would go on to frequent Satyricon and build their scene around the club.
In 1983, Portland’s Chinatown was, by all accounts, a real shithole. Peppered with empty lots, boarded-up storefronts and dealers pushing cocaine and heroin as casually as a grocery store clerk might ask “paper or plastic?”—it was a part of town best avoided altogether.
It was in the heart of this dubious neighborhood that George Touhouliotis, a 36-year-old Greek immigrant and former cab driver with a fondness for poetry and rebellious youth culture, opened an equally dirty bar called Satyricon. Though it opened in an era when rock clubs—still a relatively new phenomenon in Portland, where strict OLCC regulations largely prevented music from mixing with booze until 1972—came and went without much fanfare, Satyricon lasted almost 20 years before first closing its doors in 2003 (it would reopen in 2006), making it then the longest-running punk club on the West Coast. During that stretch, it was home to early incarnations of just about every important Northwest rock band: from Seattle supergroups like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Mudhoney to Portland’s own rock vanguard of bands like the Wipers, Dead Moon, Everclear, Nu Shooz, the Dandy Warhols, Heatmiser, Sleater-Kinney…and any other group that was worth its weight in flannel, leather or torn denim.
But more than the bands that played there, Satyricon—especially in its early days—was important as a clearinghouse for free expression. From poetry to visual art to wild, free-form cabarets, it was a place where an anything-goes aesthetic made anything seem possible. It was a punk club in the loosest, truest sense of that word, punk.
The Jackals, “Party Train” (video recorded at Satyricon)
Satyricon is set to close, for good this time, on Halloween—and the writing’s on the wall for the building itself, which is tentatively slated to be torn down to accommodate an expansion of local outreach/housing program the Macdonald Center. The current ownership will move across the river to open a new, larger all-ages club beneath Rotture (in a space that once housed the all-ages club Loveland). On the eve of the club’s closure, WW spoke with 20 people who were integral to Satyricon’s 27-year history, using many of their voices to compile an oral history of the club. It became clear early on that to capture the full story would be impossible (especially considering that most patrons’ memories are a bit fuzzy—be it from the drinks, drugs or decades). Satyricon, as is often said in eulogies for the dearly beloved, was many things to many people.
Satyricon opened in late 1983, without a name or a sign out front, in a building that had been a dive called Marlena’s. The new club was named (by Touhouliotis and poet Walt Curtis, an early Satyricon staple) after the Fellini film of the same name. In the early days, Touhouliotis was a constant fixture there, cleaning up in the mornings and closing down the bar at night.
ED JONES (Satyricon booker, 1984-1985 and 1992)
I was interested in poetry, and there was a poetry scene at George’s Mediterranean Tavern [Touhouliotis’ first business, on 16th and West Burnside]. These were guys in the beat tradition: cussing, drinking, urban themes…a lot of guys were borderline mentally ill. But it was a lively scene. George had been getting grief from [the hotel upstairs] because of [Portland singer-songwriter] Billy Kennedy playing there. And then the Violent Femmes played.
GEORGE TOUHOULIOTIS (Satyricon owner, 1983-2003)
They weren’t really loud—it’s the Violent Femmes. But there were a lot of complaints from the people upstairs. So this other space, Satyricon—it seemed right. We did some remodeling; it was an old, funky tavern.
SAM HENRY (Napalm Beach, The Wipers)
Before George started Satyricon, it was just this bar that I would go hide in, use the bathroom. It was just a cool place—it had a stage that nobody used, nobody went in there at night.
ED JONES: The first time I went in, it still had the old red Naugahyde booths—real ugly, real divey, ’50s-looking place. And garish lighting, and, you know, cigarette machines and neon beer signs. [Then] in March of ’84, I did a show at the Northwest Service Center on 18th and Everett. Posters were printed, the Dots—they were sort of a New Wave band—and maybe Billy Kennedy were playing. It was my idea to create sort of a [musical] fruit salad. So at the last second, the Service Center asked for a $200 deposit. We didn’t have it. So I asked George, can we put it on here? That was the first show. We had one day to turn the whole thing around—so we went down to Kinko’s, [copied] the cover of Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti and wrote on them, “at the new club, Satyricon.” And it worked.
GEORGE TOUHOULIOTIS: The Jackals played, the Boy Wonders…it was alive. Lots of people showed up, and they were happy! They looked happy.
ED JONES: Being a young person, you’re sort of confronted by “What are you going to do with your life?” And most of the straight jobs I’d had, I hated. So George said, “Let’s do another show.” And before I knew it I was sort of installed there. I loved being there.
GEORGE TOUHOULIOTIS: Then I met Chris Monlux. And I said hey, “I’ll [book] it, too,” you know? I didn’t really know a lot of details about the music, but I’d get advice from [people like] Brandon Lieberman at KBOO. I would try to understand the pulse of what was going on. A lot of bands were eager to play.
BRANDON LIEBERMAN (longtime Northwest DJ and writer; author of liner notes for the 1990 Satyricon LP)
There were a lot of little clubs that opened and didn’t stay open. I’m sure I didn’t realize that [Satyricon] would end up being one of the most important—if not the most important—place in my life.
CHRIS MONLUX (Satyricon booker (1984). Co-founder, Monqui Presents)
I wasn’t really into any specific bands, but I was into the politics of it. And that really gelled with George. It was the Reagan era; it was kind of a punk-rock time.
GEORGE TOUHOULIOTIS: I had an interest in the culture of the music. Not in the music, per se, but what the bands represented. That was the beauty of the punks: They were real, I thought. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, it was a fantastic movement. The times were very fresh. I think there’s nothing more beautiful than freshness. I think God loves freshness; he hates repetition.
FIONA ORTIZ (nee Martin; WW freelance music writer, 1990-1994.)
I’m not sure if George was ever super into the music. I think he liked the Jackals a lot, and probably Napalm Beach as well. But I’m not sure he had a huge affinity for a lot of the music. So in a sense he was different from other people I knew who were booking shows or running clubs. I had this odd click with him because he watched World Cup soccer.
MOM AND DAD WENT TO A SHOW: Kurt Cobain playing with Nirvana in January 1989. IMAGE: David Ackerman
BRANDON LIEBERMAN: At that time, a lot of bands would skip Portland. They’d play Seattle and go directly to San Francisco. So, yeah, we were still trying to find our place. To tell you the truth, when Blue Gallery and the X-Ray [Cafe] opened, at first I was scared because I thought, “What if it means they all close because there’s not enough people to support three clubs?”
FIONA ORTIZ: I have to say that, for me, the pinnacle of music in that era is Greg Sage and the Wipers. [Sage] was a real innovator and his music had, has, complete soul. I mean, absolute integrity. And I think a lot of musicians in Portland someway or another maintain their integrity. And I think, unfortunately, it didn’t mean as much economic compensation.
CHRIS NEWMAN (frontman, Napalm Beach/Snow Bud and the Flower People)
I remember seeing Gwar there. It was a lot of papier-mâché and latex. Pretty clever; pretty funny. Sick and twisted, too.
BRANDON LIEBERMAN: Gwar was still in its early stages…the joke was still new. The Dwarves played eight minutes. That was their set. That was before the Satyricon had hard alcohol, so a lot of people went to Hung Far Low and missed the entire set.
SAM COOMES (Quasi, Heatmiser, etc.)
I affectionately refer to those days as the “heroin rock days.” Not to downplay the pitfalls of heroin or addiction in general, but it just signifies that it was more outré or something and not so mainstream…. In those days it was truly underground—the people who frequented places like Satyricon were real fanatics. There was a closer relationship with the bands and the audiences back then.
Quasi, “Our Happiness is Guaranteed” (Satyricon, 1998 or '99)
TRES SHANNON (cabaret performer, X-Ray Cafe co-owner, currently co-owner of Voodoo Donut)
Cabaret at the Satyricon was special—it was Sunday night and you had to bring your A game.
KITTY DIGGINS (cabaret performer/organizer, 1994-1999; Satyricon regular since 1984)
Performance groups started performing there, and usually we were booked up with people who had nothing to do with what we were doing. And the kind of stuff that we were doing was pretty outrageous. We were always trying to create mayhem in some way. I mean, we almost set the club on fire at one point, but the great thing was that we didn’t get in trouble. We were not instructed to stop or get out of the club or anything like that. Later on, George was like, “That was fantastic.” So we always had carte blanche to do whatever we wanted to do. I think it was the first time that the club was almost set on fire, but not the last.
JASIN FELL (cabaret organizer, 1994-1999)
Any kind of live performance, Satyricon was a magnet. Cabaret’s always been a kind of catchall thing. It was a place where you could have the happiest, most ridiculous nitrous-oxide performance art and then the next week it would be the doomiest, we’re all gonna commit public suicide sort of event, and it all was sort of OK. Satyricon was equipped, culturally, to handle all facets of our bipolar disorders. I always relished that about Satyricon—it was always anything goes up to the point of legality. I can’t believe the fires I’ve had in that building for shows, public nudity, public sex.
FERNANDO VICICONTE (singer-songwriter)
The first time I ever performed at Satyricon was for one of those Sunday cabarets, and the theme this particular night was porn. There was, like, 12 TV sets onstage playing porn, and we were passing around some mushroom tea the whole night, and by the time it was my turn to play I was feelin’ it pretty good. And I didn’t wanna be outdone by any of the porno that was behind me, so I picked up the guitar and by this point in the night there was, like, three strings left and it’s going through, like, a small, shitty Peavey amp. And so I get up onstage and start playing some song and was like, “This isn’t feeling good,” so I just take off my pants and play with my balls on the chair. I played three songs naked in front of mushroomed folks. That was my first experience at that club. I’d been in town a week.
FIONA ORTIZ: I remember a lot of mythical moments. I remember the riot. I remember Matt Dillon hanging out there. I remember the night that Courtney [Love] met Kurt. [I ask what she remembers about the night Kurt and Courtney met. She pauses, trying to recall hazy details.] I believe that I have a memory of that night.
The Curt and Courtney story via VH1 Storytellers
GEORGE TOUHOULIOTIS: The guy from Nirvana—not Cobain—Krist [Novoselic]. I thought he was the leader of the band, because he was so personable, and Cobain was in the back with most of his face covered with hair. Never said anything. When they came down and played, in January ’89, they had a show with Mudhoney, and [Mudhoney frontman] Mark Arm said, “George, this band is going to be great.” And it was a fantastic night. A little later on, one of the bartenders brought Bleach into the club. I swear to God, every night after we got off work, we’d listen to that, sometimes until 6 or 7 am. We listened to it over and over and over. We listened to that album more than any other album. I thought it was fantastic.
BRANDON LIEBERMAN: Dead Moon and Napalm Beach were probably the two bands I saw at Satyricon more than any other. And with those two bands, any night they played Satyricon, that was going to be a party in and of itself—people were always happy to be there. It was always packed, always great music and always a fun time. The Obituaries were just an incredibly powerful band, just transfixing. Now I’m managing them, but I wasn’t back then. I was just this huge fan. A lot of people were influenced by the Obituaries, making them one of the most influential bands that most people have never ever heard.
BEN MUNAT (Satyricon booker, 1993-1999)
Jesus Lizard, of course, put on some amazing shows. They came back in the mid-’90s—they were doing a new tour and they said that they wanted to do small venues because it wasn’t the same playing in large venues. That show was insane. I remember my girlfriend at the time was up rolling around on the crowd for ages.
MONICA NELSON (frontwoman, the Obituaries)
I think our third show was at Satyricon. The first year the Obituaries played, I vowed never to wear the same dress twice. So I remember the dress I wore: It was a white-and-blue-checkered dress. And it was a great show—there was no division between audience and band. At least as far as the Obituaries were concerned, they were all equally important. Everybody was part of it. It was like a big house party.
FIONA ORTIZ: Napalm Beach had a show every month. So, I think my last year in college, my friend and I went every single month to see Napalm. I just loved the songs, I loved Chris [Newman]’s guitar playing. It felt like it was Portland. For a long time after I moved away from Portland and left the scene, I found it was hard for me to listen to Napalm Beach or the Wipers or Hellcows or Obituaries or Dharma Bums. I was very emotionally involved with the music. It meant a lot to me.
(Left) WHO’S THE BOSS?: George Touhouliotis at Satyricon, 2003. IMAGE: Martin Thiel (Top Right) DROP-DEAD GORGEOUS: The Obituaries’ Monica Nelson. IMAGE: David Ackerman (Bottom Right) TOO CRUCIAL: The Jackals circa 1985.
BRANDON LIEBERMAN: Now, in Portland, the arts are celebrated. Sam Adams has Quasi play at City Hall. But back then, the police were trying to shut down all the alternative music clubs. There was still sort of a discrimination against punks…a common thread about most, I don’t want to say all, but many of the people drawn to Satyricon was that, for one reason or another, [they] may not have had the most ’50s-style, Ozzie and Harriet home life. And so, Satyricon, in many ways, was like a substitute home or high school.
MONICA NELSON: I was probably 18 when I started going there—but I was legally emancipated. It was like a fantasy high school, where everybody’s thoughts, everybody’s art, everybody’s music, everybody’s poetry was equally important. That was my first impression. And I learned that punk rock was a state of mind, and had nothing to do with the way you dressed. Punk rock has no rules. I learned that from Satyricon.
SAM COOMES: People used to come to those shows, when it was underground rock, to get loose and lose their shit. Now the motivations are different—they come to make YouTube videos on their iPhones. I don’t know what the fuck is going on…. In your mind you think the older generation is complaining that the kids are too crazy or too weird and they can’t understand it, but now it’s kind of the opposite: The older people today are complaining that the kids are too well-behaved and clean and commercialized. It’s a strange turn of events. Satyricon definitely represents that old era for me.
KITTY DIGGINS: Truly, at that time, you had to be very resourceful and truly weird. That’s one problem I have nowadays with the whole slogan of “Keep Portland Weird,” because there’s nothing fucking weird about this place. But during the ’80s on up to maybe ’91, it was a weird place. There were a lot of artists and bands, there were a lot of interesting noise bands that were doing stuff that was totally weird. They were not trying to be cool, they didn’t care about being cool, they didn’t care about being signed or anything like that. They were just a bunch of fuckin’ weirdos and dorks and geeks that were creating strange music and strange performances. I don’t see that happening at this point. I always hope that it will happen again.
DAN ECCLES (Richmond Fontaine, Fernando)
It was a place where all my friends were at—lifelong friends. In the old days, when they’d close, they’d yell at you “Leave,” but no one would leave. No one wanted to leave.
WILLY VLAUTIN (Richmond Fontaine)
One night a friend of mine began hitting on this girl who was with two Marines who were in town on vacation. The two guys began to beat up my friend, so I broke a bottle thinking it would scare them, but fuck, they’re Marines. The next thing I know they were on me and we all started fighting. Luckily the bartenders at Satyricon kicked them out and not us. It wouldn’t happen that way in many places—let the drunk idiot music freaks stay and kick out the Marines.
MONICA NELSON: A lot of us had very turbulent lives, we weren’t happy, we were hanging by a thread for whatever reason, and that place and all the Satyriconites saved us. We saved each other and we supported one another.
FIONA ORTIZ: You’d be there sweating and drinking and then after last call—and I’d stay till the bitter end because there was usually an afterparty—I just remember that horrifying moment when the lights would come on and you’d all look at each other and think, “Oh, God, why am I friends with these people?” And you thought, “Oh, I probably look just as bad.”
WILLAMETTE WEEK, May 3, 1990
What really happened early Sunday morning at the Satyricon? According to a story in Monday’s Oregonian, four people were injured and six were arrested after a “riot” broke out at the underground rock club, located at 125 NW 6th Ave. The story suggests that the police were surrounded by an unruly mob that threw bottles at them. But according to numerous witnesses, including Willamette Week rock writer Fiona Martin, no bottles were thrown and the customers evacuated the club peacefully after being told to do so. Only one person actually fought with the police, and some of those arrested did nothing more than ask what was happening.
GEORGE TOUHOULIOTIS: It had more publicity than it deserved. I was outside urinating on the side of the building…. The guy, I was really surprised [officer Rocky Balada] was a cop, he didn’t have a hat on. He said, “What are you doing?” He tried to grab me, I pushed him away, said “Fuck off.” Then I went into the club. It was a joke, overall.
CHRIS NEWMAN: I was just sitting at the bar where I always sat. It all happened pretty fast. I’m a peaceful guy. I’ve been hit in the face before; I don’t like it.
BRANDON LIEBERMAN: One girl spit. There was fist fighting. There were no chairs thrown. There was nothing else that would indicate the validation of the term “riot.” And for some reason, even people who were there still refer to it as the “Satyricon Riot,” which speaks more to the power of media branding than anything else.
WILLAMETTE WEEK, May 31, 1990
Nevertheless, within days the Oregon Liquor Control Commission—at the prodding of Police Chief Richard Walker, who declared Satyricon “a threat to the public safety, health and welfare”—revoked the club’s liquor license. (Satyricon’s case was not helped when fliers advertising a ‘post-riot party’ with ‘special guest Rocky Balada’ were found in the club three days after the incident.)
GEORGE TOUHOULIOTIS: Yeah, it was an ugly scene. But I don’t want to think of that as the history of the club. It had no effect on what we were doing. The liquor commission said, “Yeah, we’re going to take your license away.” Then a few days later they said, “No, it’s fine.”
The Dark Side
GEORGE TOUHOULIOTIS: This idea evolved about the place that if we go there, we have to break something or do something nasty, because that’s the nature of the place. As much as I really wanted to get rid of that aspect, it seemed like it was always there: the fights and the drugs. But it’s rock ’n’ roll; it’s rebellious. You have to allow a certain amount of emotion to come out. So, to a certain extent I understood it. You can’t have a castrated audience to watch a rock-’n’-roll show—the blood is boiling, and I saw the value of that. That’s fine. That’s human.
CHRIS MONLUX: I remember this Boy Wonders show [in 1984 or ‘85]—that band had a completely unruly, punk-rock crowd. There was a huge fight there. Everyone in there got punched. That’s one of the first shows I remember being really rowdy. The music was angry. Reagan was president, and it was ugly.
ED JONES: It became a coke scene—they had a coke dealer working the door…. I don’t know if George knew that.
SAM HENRY: That whole sidewalk was like a drug haven. You could buy anything you wanted anytime, it was 24-hour drug traffic up and down Sixth Avenue. The city didn’t like it. That’s why George always had trouble with the police.
CHRIS NEWMAN: I used to think George had some kind of protection. He got away with a lot of shit. But I do remember going to the club, getting the stink-eye from cops walking the beat, like, “There goes another one of those Satyricon scumbags.”
SAM HENRY: I went to jai, and the only people who wrote me or sent me money were everybody who worked at Satyricon.
FIONA ORTIZ: From the time I was probably most intensely with Satyricon, ’86 to ’89, three of my very good friends from that era have all died. They all died very young, and so for a while I had a very bitter, maybe confused, dark view of the time. I’ve finally come out of that. I don’t blame the scene...I think a lot of us were trying to live out on the edge a bit, or a lot, and you can do that in many places. For some people it was tragic, for some people it wasn’t.
BRANDON LIEBERMAN: Most of the people who hung out way back then lost friends, and I lost friends, who aren’t here to give interviews or play music for these farewell shows. And that’s unfortunate, both on a personal level and on sort of a historic level. But it’s not like those problems were peculiar to the club. It’s not like there was a drug initiation or anything.
GEORGE TOUHOULIOTIS: I felt responsible. I felt bad. Some of [the people who died], I was shocked—Hansi, Richie [Rosemus of the Oily Bloodmen, who died in 2001 of a methadone overdose; his bandmate Dale Moerer also died of a drug overdose]—I used to kind of think of them in my head. There’s a lot of them. I don’t feel good about that. I wish I could prevent it. I mean, at the very beginning, I remember we had a huge sign at the top of the bar that said, “The Coke is on us.” It was a Coca-Cola sign. I thought it was cute. I didn’t know the depth of the drugs. I was not doing drugs. I thought they were like me. But some of them got really into it—they started dying.
The Scene Changes
(Left) STILL SMASHING: Quasi’s Sam Coomes at Satyricon last week. IMAGE: www.inger.net (Top Right) DEAD MOON NIGHT: Toody Cole of Dead Moon/Pierced Arrows (late 1980s). IMAGE: David Ackerman (Bottom Right) THE HAIR AND THE FURY: Babes in Toyland’s Kat Bjelland, 1992. IMAGE: David Ackerman
GEORGE TOUHOULIOTIS: When Nirvana made it in 1991 or so, the attitude changed. The business, too, it changed. Now it was popular and accepted. I thought then the place lost some of the uniqueness and the edge.
CHRIS NEWMAN: Behind the bar, there was a massive pile of cassettes. A lot of people would send cassettes for their demos. All these weird bands that came from the East Coast or the Midwest were wanting to get a gig there. So it was a popular place on the West Coast. They were never at want for an act. Nobody else took [the tapes] home, so I used to take them. I got turned on to some pretty weird stuff.
ED JONES: Satyricon had an arc in my life. I quit and then I came back again in ’92 or ’93. And I was given more control. And the bands were better, and there were labels like Sub Pop—[and] George had invested in a new sound system and better lights. So I did it for a few months, or maybe a year, and I thought, “I still don’t like this.”
GEORGE TOUHOULIOTIS: [The music] got one-dimensional. Heavy metal, punk—it got kind of dumb. It got more narrow, and it hurts me. When Ed was there, it was a beautiful philosophy. Ed loved the music.
I ended up as a barback, I guess in the summer of ’91. And gradually I learned enough to do live sound, so at Satyricon I ended up doing live sound shifts, probably starting with Monday night—new band night. It’s a terribly hard room to mix with nobody in it. It’s just so echo-y. But then [in the] summer of ’93, George was going to Greece every summer for like the month of August, and he asked if I would answer the phones while he was gone and book the shows. And I said sure, and when he came back from Greece, he was like, “Do you wanna keep doing it?” He was actually [booking the venue himself] at that point.
GEORGE TOUHOULIOTIS: I was in my 40s at the time, and it takes energy. I thought maybe somebody younger, who was following the scene and the pulse would do it better. You just can’t pretend. I repeated myself so many times that after a while I had no more creativity. Someone else needed to rejuvenate to it. Ben [Munat] did it.
GEORGE TOUHOULIOTIS: They tried hard, those kids. By and large, [the local bands] really believed in what they were doing. I would get disappointed when they would get disappointed a few years later, when they didn’t realize their dream. Not that many bands really made it. Who made it? Did anybody make it? The Dandy Warhols? Everclear? Nu Shooz? The Seattle bands made it. And I always felt a certain kind of antagonism, to this day, against Seattle. I was jealous. I wanted Portland to be Seattle. God, what’s Seattle? It rains more! [laughs] In England, the best soccer matches, the derbies, are local. Manchester against Liverpool, you know? It’s pure hate.
The End; The Rebirth
WILLAMETTE WEEK, JUNE 11, 2003
“Portland music fans wept (metaphorically, at least) last month when Satyricon, the West Coast’s oldest rock club and easily the city’s most legendary dive, shut down after nearly 20 years of artistic mayhem. The storied bar/restaurant at 125 NW 6th Ave. did not long sit idle. The former owners of Moody’s take command this month, reviving their defunct mid-’90s 4th Avenue club within SatCo’s shell. According to Moody’s partner Joe Brooks…‘We’re going to try to clean the place up a little, and make it more of an eclectic thing.’”
GEORGE TOUHOULIOTIS: [When Satyricon closed in 2003] I wasn’t even there to turn off the lights. I hadn’t been there to turn off the lights for a while. I didn’t even know who was playing. The club to me was from 1984 to 1994. The heart and soul of the club was Monica and Fiona and Brandon.
WILLAMETTE WEEK, AUG. 9, 2006
“By early September, the club that was open for 20 years before closing in 2003 will open under the same old name but with a new potential clientele, as a split all-ages venue with a bar. ‘There’s no investors, no loans, nothing like that, we’re just doing it straight out of pocket…. Seems like a lot changed in Portland after this place closed. New places opened up, and the feeling was different. This is going to be a business, but we don’t want it to feel like a business. We want it to feel like home.’” —new co-owner Jeff Urquhart (speaking to WW’s Jason Simms)
JEFF URQUHART (co-owner/booker, Satyricon, 2006-present)
This spot is kind of its own being. That’s part of the reason I was cool with coming in and calling it Satyricon. And George was cool with it. If George had had any hesitation at all, I wouldn’t have done it. But we talked to him and he liked our direction and what we had to say.
RAY MULLIN (general manager, Satyricon, 2006-present)
The Satyricon of the ’80s was much different than the Satyricon of the late ’90s, and we are different than that. Punk rock and the entire world is different now…what has stayed the same is [the] human desire to fit in somewhere, the need for a place to express yourself.
JEFF URQUHART: I know it’s not the same…. But I’ve got a whole other thing I’m doing here. I absolutely respect what this place was. And if anyone thinks that we’re trying to come in here and cash in on it, that was never the plan. If that was the plan, we would have done 21-plus. There’s no money in all-ages. Look at every city in this country and tell me how many all-ages venues have been around for more than five or 10 years? Very few.
BRANDON LIEBERMAN: For me personally it’s not the same—of course it’s not. But it doesn’t mean it’s not important to those kids. For the people who are going now regularly, that’s their life and those are their memories that they’re making in that place. You can’t discredit them just because they weren’t your memories.
Monotonix wrecks Satyricon, MusicfestNW 2008.
ZACK PERRY (14-year-old music fan from Beaverton)
I saw my first show there—it was exactly a month before I turned 13. I saw the Old Scars and Upstarts tour. Everyone just immediately accepted me. It didn’t feel like a place where it was just a bunch of snobby kids listening to music. [Satyricon] achieved so many things for so many kids despite the fact that it’s really small. It’s kind of stinky and kind of humid, but I’ve never felt such a sense of unity in one place. It was where I met some of my best friends.
JEFF URQUHART: It’s definitely a dirty punk club. We made it a point to try and get in there and clean it as much as we can. I was mopping, one of the first times I was in here, and I was like, “It’s like polishing a turd. I know what that term means now.” You’re cleaning something that’s just not going to get very clean.
The End, Again
LAST DAYS: Satyricon co-owner/booker Jeff Urquhart at the club. IMAGE: vivianjohnson.com
WILLAMETTE WEEK, Aug. 4, 2010
Satyricon, once the longest-running indie rock nightclub on the West Coast and one of Portland’s few all-ages venues, will close its doors for good this October.
BRANDON LIEBERMAN: I’m really bummed about it [closing]. Even though I didn’t make use of the club much anymore, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t a historic place to me—and maybe I could some day in the future bring people by. I would have liked to have seen it turned into a museum about the club or something. Music is now such a big part of what draws people to Portland. The city trumpets its arts community, and Satyricon was vital to that…. I’m hoping to get a brick.
ED JONES: I went in there with my nephew—he’s a metalhead, but he likes punk—in August of last year, and we saw Anal Cunt [laughs]. I was really glad I could take him down there—glad that it was still there. I had all these sour grapes thoughts, about this thing or that guy. But it was a big part of me becoming who I am. And it’s always sad when you see some element of your life get bulldozed. Because I always kind of kept it as a hole card in my heart, I guess. I could hold that with pride.
MONICA NELSON: I would be coming out even if the Obituaries weren’t [performing]. It meant a lot to me. A friend of mine says it was the “good old days.” It was never the good old days for me, but a lot of people threw me down a rope, and I threw people ropes, you know? We kept each other alive, and it really meant a lot. It was the people within those four walls. And it began with George. George set the tone for everything.
GEORGE TOUHOULIOTIS: I think, was that me that went through that or tolerated that or experienced that? Because with time, I’ve changed. When I think about it, there was a certain amount of naiveté. I was thinking, maybe people can be free, maybe people can do something. Maybe people can just…be. We’re not car salesmen, we’re not insurance salesmen; screw the lawyers; screw everybody that has a regular job. Maybe we can be the new breed of people who do art and music and just be that. That was the spirit, and [now] I think, “boy, whoa” [laughs, then pauses]. It has kind of a bitter…a little bit of disappointment. With myself, with the scene. It wasn’t that. It was just young people having fun, doing their thing. That’s all it was. It came and it passed. Other people, right now, are doing that, and it will come and pass. Some of them will rise, most of them will not. And they will become…I see them now, working in grocery stores and everyday jobs—with potbellies, bald, with families. That’s how life is, and that’s how life was, always. It will be. It was a moment. If you enjoyed it, fine, don’t worry about it, don’t think about it. Life is now. You can’t dwell.