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October 13th, 2004 KELLY CLARKE | Night Avenger
 

TIMBER!

     
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Portland will love the new Doug Fir Lounge, if only for the same reason we love Mount St. Helens. We can't wait to see whether it'll blow up or not.

By the time the Jupiter Hotel next door had hosted numerous MusicfestNW parties and Stuart Horodner's AFFAIR @ the Jupiter Hotel, every scenester worth his weight in white drugs had peeked into the half-constructed bar/lounge/restaurant's sawdust-choked maw. Well, last Saturday night, the log cabin finally had its coming-out party--complete with a one-two band blast from Quasi and the Joggers, as well as sightings of other Sleater-Kinney members and county commish Serena Cruz. The crowd was impressive. The space was luxe. But can this overhyped lounge love affair last?

Nightclubs are like crushes, you see. Everybody's head over heels about a bar for a few glittering nights (Level, anybody?). Two weeks later, the same joint barely merits a nod.

Doug Fir's owners Mike Quinn (Monqui Presents), John Plummer (East) and Skylab Design architect Jeff Kovel want you to commit the second you step inside the caution-light-yellow foyer. They're hoping to overcome your fickleness by turning the Doug into multiple clubs connected by rustic iconography and walls of finger-friendly fake beaver pelt. The deliciously cheeky furnishings flow, from the Brady Bunch stacked-rock fireplaces to the Bunyanesque logs that frame the entire structure. But only a few more benders will prove whether the club can withstand the ego-weight of its multiple personalities.

Last weekend, pint-sized mini-skirted girls and design majors gushed over the glitzy riot of gold-veined mirrored tiles in the Vegas-style bathrooms. Well-coifed men with tattoos demolished "Fir burgers" while perched on the dining room's stiff Naugahyde banquettes (they never noticed the half-finished benches were still sluttily flashing their foam innards at East Burnside's bums).

Meanwhile, downstairs, the bulk of Portland's music community was camped out in the concert venue, an echoey mash-up of glowing yellow floors and concrete parking-garage pillars hugging a low-slung stage.

Worlds collided. A few women dressed in rhinestone-encrusted evening dresses shimmied along with the Joggers' angelically damaged four-part harmonies and Sam and Janet's jarring blues-rock. And if the drinks keep flowing, the Doug Fir may someday host an epic upstairs-downstairs rumble: The sweaty kids in the basement vs. the fur-palace hipsterati above ground.

Regardless of social strata, everybody was trying to label Kovel's super-cool style. Is it Elmer's Pancake House meets Goldfinger's lair? Perhaps the Camp 18 truck stop on Mars?

In fact, it seems the biggest affair-breaker so far was voiced by patrons of the Jupiter. Evidently some people who checked into the mod-motel actually expected to sleep that night--rock haters, apparently. Sigh. See you there again this weekend.


Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E Burnside St., 231-9663. Check out www.dougfirlounge.com for weekly and upcoming events. The lounge is open seven days a week, 21 hours a day.
 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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