So the bad news this week was that M.I.A.'s visa was denied (again!), forcing her to cancel her set at Sasquatch!—an appearance that was certain to be a highlight of the festival. M.I.A. might raise more red flags than most artists for the asshats at Homeland Security—what with the rapping about the PLO, the revolutionary/terrorist Tamil Tiger dad, and the fact that she's know to have "the bombs that make you blow"—but she's not the only artist to run afoul of U.S. border security lately. Earlier this month, two members of CocoRosie's band were arrested and deported for not having proper papers. The same day that M.I.A. announced her cancellation, Canadian Sub Poppers Handsome Furs were denied entry into the U.S. by customs agents. Sharp Brighton rockers the Maccabees had to cancel a half-dozen shows due to visa delays, and London rockers Mystery Jets canceled their entire U.S. tour.
Of course, these probably aren't all cases of Homeland Security run amok. Musicians aren't known to be the most diligent preparers of paperwork—that's why they have managers—and cases of delay rather than outright cancellation suggest bands simply having waited too long to apply for permits. But still, it seems like a rash of squashed tours lately, and in M.I.A.'s case at least, it's easy (and fun) to imagine it being some absurd extension of the "war on terror." For the rest of the bands, who have less freedom-fighter street cred to gain from such issues, it's just a drag.
The good news is all the action in the Capitol Hill bar scene. Moe, the swank new bar opening in the Neumo's-adjacent space formerly occupied by the tacky and goth Bad Juju redux, had a pair of preopening parties last week; its official grand opening was May 30. Owner Steven Severin describes the bar's exposed brick, metal, dark wood, and old show posters as "perfect for aging punk rockers—nice but not yuppie nice."
The Cha Cha is preparing its new location in the former Des Amis space at 1013 E Pike Street. That location will open its doors on June 14, with Bimbo's cantina upstairs and the Cha Cha lounge in the basement (Kelly O snapped some photos of the already-awesome-looking décor for Slog). Meanwhile, the old Cha Cha space at 506 East Pine Street will remain open until its demolition, which could be as far off as January. Longtime Cha Cha bartender DJ and drag terrorist Marcus Wilson will take over the place and convert it from a dark, sleazy den of hipster inequity into a dark, sleazy den of gay inequity. The plans thus far include plastering gay porn on every available surface, carving glory holes into the bathroom doors, and hosting dance parties and bands in the downstairs area. The impending demolition of the Cha Cha—and Manray, Bus Stop, and Kincora's—is something of a symbol for Capitol Hill's uneasy conversion into a condo-dotted Belltown-lite "hipster" theme park. So it's fitting that in the time before the block is razed, the bar will have a second life as a dirty, punk, antibreeder dive. It'll be like a little exaggerated piece of "old" Capitol Hill. And then it'll be condos.