Who doesn't love dive bars? Nobody, that's who—although few love a good dive as much as And And And's Bim Ditson. That's why he put together the Underbelly Bender, a six-week crosstown concert series dedicated to celebrating Portland bands and the bars that nurture them. In conjunction, each week here at wweek.com we will be profiling the hosting bar and its local music history. For the full itinerary, go here.
Underbelly Bender #4: Support Force, Father Figure, and And And And at Slabtown, 12/10
1033 NW 16th Ave.
Year Opened: 2007
Description: Part working-class dive, part 21+ arcade. Beyond the loungey bar area is a game room featuring an air hockey table, skee-ball, Pop-a-Shot and pinball.
Clientele: In addition to the punks it draws in for its shows, owner Brenda Coleman says the bar also draws in a niche of gamers who come primarily for the 13 pinball machines in the back. As for how she would describe the locals to this famously industrial section of Northwest Portland, who stop in for a pint after work? "Let's just say it's not the Pearl crowd."
Memorable Shows: Thanks mostly to its annual Bender festival -- a weekend-long showcase for local and national punk and garage rock and, clearly, the inspiration for the Underbelly Bender in more than name alone -- Slabtown has played host to so many memorable performances it's tough to name them all. For Coleman's part, she recalls a Halloween performance by the Chemicals -- primarily because that's the night she got her coworker's initials tattooed on her, live onstage (it was less a lost bet than a dare, she says). Of course, for all the great little bands that have passed through Slabtown, it's hard to compete with the biggest band that's played its stage: Mudhoney, who headlined the Bender in 2009. "You don't see bands that have that legacy in a place like this," Coleman says. (As someone who was there, let me offer this understatement: It was loud.) Although last month's announcement that the bar has been put up for sale has put the future of the bar in question, Coleman confirms there is going to be a 2012 Bender, and some bands have already been booked.
Bim Says: "I've always been so drawn to this place. That attraction starts with, simply, their honest booking and cheap covers along with great prices at the bar. But it's more than that. Maybe it's the awesome pinball collection. Maybe it's that it's got a pee-trough that's filled with ice. I don't know what it is exactly but I really love everything that Slabtown is."
Download or stream Bim's compilation of songs from all the participating bands at Into the Woods.
Mudhoney at Slabtown's Bender, 2009