Dan 10 Things

Last Friday, a few dozen nightclubs and live-music venues in Seattle—ranging from the Crocodile to Cowgirls, Inc.—observed a minute of silence to mark what organizers were calling, just a little hyperbolically, "the night the music died." The event was staged by the Seattle Nightlife and Music Association (NMA), a coalition of music professionals and club owners, who organized a similar, though five minutes long, moment of silence two years ago to protest onerous new nightlife regulations then proposed by Mayor Greg Nickels. (The NMA won that fight, successfully lobbying the city council to pass more sensible legislation.)

The reason for this weekend's minute of silence? City Attorney Tom Carr. Carr is running for reelection against challenger Pete Holmes, and, as reported in last week's Stranger ("Remain Silent," Dominic Holden), many club owners feel that Carr is unfairly harassing them in retaliation for their enthusiastic endorsements of his opponent. (The long-standing general feeling among club owners is that Carr has a personal vendetta against drinking and nightlife, as evidenced by his spearheading of Operation Sobering Thought, an abject failure of a bar sting that included several showy arrests but resulted in zero convictions and, ironically, probably undermined Nickels's proposed regulations.) The moment of silence was meant to illustrate what the NMA fears could happen if Carr were reelected: the silencing of Seattle nightlife.

Participation varied. The Crocodile closed its doors completely for the night. At the Showbox at the Market, there was no minute of silence, but the marquee was kept dark in a display of solidarity. At Neumos, the minute was observed a half hour earlier than planned, at 11:00 p.m. instead of 11:30, so as not to interrupt Chicago rock provocateurs the Jesus Lizard's scheduled set.

The Jesus Lizard are no strangers to Seattle's weird nightlife hang-ups. In 1996, the band was banned from performing here by an overzealous fire marshal who took issue with lead singer David Yow's stage diving and other onstage shenanigans. In 2009, they came back to headline the Capitol Hill Block Party. In the intervening years, the city's civic leaders have progressed from upholding draconian regulations like the Teen Dance Ordinance (1985–2002) to establishing "Seattle City of Music," an initiative meant to recognize the cultural and economic value provided by a healthy music and nightlife industry. It's a long arc of progress from grunge-boom backwater toward the kind of world-class music and nightlife capitol the City of Music initiative imagines—and it's a progress to which Carr seems stubbornly and archaically opposed.

At 11:35 p.m. at Moe Bar, the Cure song playing on the sound system faded out and was followed, without any announcement or fanfare, by exactly one minute of silence (or at least bar chatter without background music). Nobody seemed to notice, and it wasn't even clear if this was the minute of silence or just a minute of silence, say, while the bartenders switched iPods.

But if the stunt was less than spectacular, the sentiment is clear enough and the cause is sound: Tom Carr is bad for music and nightlife in Seattle, and if you value those things in this city, then it's time to send him packing and vote for Pete Holmes. recommended