There was a bar. There was a band.
Until this week.
Were I so inclined, I could draw a straight line from Shorty’s to my discovery of local treepunk tribe Kithkin, at least as straight as any line I could draw would be. But I’ve told the beginning of the tale before. As for the rest of it: There were some incredible highs, the lowest of lows, and a wedding in Tacoma, all of which led to walking into the Neptune the next time Los Campesinos were in town and wondering aloud who the opener was, because they were good.
But that’s not the point. Not anymore.
The news arrived Tuesday like a bolt out of the blue, or perhaps a dagger to the heart. Shorty’s, one of the few bright spots in a neighborhood that was once a grunge epicenter and is now mostly condos, is falling prey to the wrecking ball, date unknown. The timing is uncertain, but its fate is inevitable; the bar that kindled my dearest friendship, hosted the first drinks of my longest relationship, and played a part in at least a few of my most questionable nights now sits on the chopping block.
The New Year’s when my first drink was at the bar, and the last was at a house party we crashed. The night when we followed the band after the show to buy them drinks. That night when the moth tattoo on her chest shined in contrast to the clowns on the wall. The night when we talked about how amazing the last few hours of music had been, trying to hold onto the memories while our clothes held the rain. The night when taking this picture somehow seemed like a good idea.
So many nights. So many “we”s.
Like tears in rain.
“There comes a time when every summer will have something of autumn about it,” A. Bartlett Giamatti wrote, in a near-tearjerking essay inspired by the conclusion of the 1977 Red Sox season. My teams’ seasons still have weeks to go, but their destiny was long ago assured. In some ways, my summer long ago ended. In others, this week brought it on.
It hasn’t been just the rain, which whipped back into town and drenched Bumbershoot yesterday, turning a supposed revitalization of the festival that first made me feel like a Seattleite into something closer to an ending, a possible death blow. A ghost town, at times, for sure. A poster from my first Bumbershoot, 14 years ago, hangs on the wall of my home, boasting that tickets cost merely $12 per day. This year, with a megacorporation pulling the strings for the first time, single-day admission cost $109, even as they dared to use the hashtag #seattlesfestival.
Kithkin played their final show Thursday night at Chop Suey, a manic, sweaty mess full of the kind of energy I hadn’t even realized I missed until it swept me up into its tide, even as I stood removed from the best/worst of it. Kithkin, four kids who met at the college across the street from my home of nearly eight years and formed a band whose growling vocals and occasional dual-drum attack created such unique sounds and rhythms that they became one of the few bands to win me over within seconds of their first tickling my eardrums. Kithkin, a creation so uniquely Seattle that they identified as Cascadian, dissipating.
At a Bumbershoot panel yesterday, some writers from the A.V. Clubdebated which piece of pop culture ephemera best represented Seattle: Humpday, Singles, The Real World: Seattle, or, the ultimate victor, footage from an MTV News report on Nirvana’s 1992 homecoming, wherein the band’s own fans expressed resentment over its success. To the rest of the world, this city is a collection of cliché stereotypes. To this city’s denizens, this city is being pumped full of new stereotypes, new clichés, and new construction condos that replace the spaces that used to inspire art with ones that inspire derision.
There was a bar. There was a band.
There was a summer, but autumn’s creeping in.