With spaces like Capitol Hill Arts Center's Lower Level, ToST, the Baltic Room, and the Deep Down Lounge already devoting several nights a week to electronic-music artists whose sole function isn't merely to prelude sexual encounters (not that there's anything wrong with that), competition for the thinking person's dwindling electronic-music dollar has become that much more fierce with the Mirabeau's arrival.
The Mirabeau brain trust seeks to conquer with a cosmopolitan schedule and a killer sound system. Steichen (Showbox owner) and Meinert (Maktub and Catheters manager; Capitol Hill Block Party organizer; employee at many clubs before Mirabeau) possess as many connections and as much entertainment-biz savvy as anyone in Seattle.
"On some level, we will compete with every club out there," Meinert asserts. "We're trying to have fresher music, the best DJs, the best touring stuff, the best production. We'll start with the best sound and lights of any club under 500 [capacity] in Seattle, for sure. On that level, we will kick everyone's ass."
While Meinert and Steichen often use the word "progressive" when describing Mirabeau's musical menu, they plan to keep some continuity with Sorry Charlie's, retaining beloved, standards-encyclopedia pianist Howard Bulson every Sunday and during weekday happy hours. Further, Meinert & Co. will retain the club's '60s cocktail-lounge vibe (albeit with renovated décor) while opening up the space for dancing--both burlesque and your fresh moves to a smorgasbord of bleeding-edge electronica. (Mirabeau's narrow confines and 175-person capacity, however, could force its patrons to bump and grind with more friction than they bargained for.)
Will such a diverse agenda diffuse Mirabeau's identity?
"Five nights a week, it's all DJ-oriented music. Within that, there's a lot of variety," Meinert counters. "But I don't think it's too broad. If you look at a place like the Baltic Room, it's no more varied than that. Every place I've worked there's been a wide variety of stuff. At the Weathered Wall, we did everything from huge, gay house parties to poetry readings to Alanis Morissette to punk rock shows, and it was packed for all of those."
"While we're coming in with such DJ-oriented, thematic nights," Steichen elaborates, "we also have the added capability of the Showbox, which has holds on several dates per month, some of which may be compatible with the Mirabeau, or, if we do have an Asian/dub/Bollywood night with somebody like Panjabi MC, we can bring him in on that sort of night. We can let bands in there, should it work out schedule-wise. So we're not going to box ourselves into any one concept. We can keep it fresh and alive with our booking capabilities, which are prodigious."
With everyone from Tin Pan Alley septuagenarians, Greenpeace-lovin' globalistas, exiled broken-beat aficionados, and Yo, Son! outcasts to laptop freaks as potential punters, the question remains: Will these myriad tribes haul their carcasses to Queen Anne to get their sonic fixes? Meinert believes they will.
"If you look at EMP and McCaw Hall--one of the biggest, nicest venues here-- Watertown, EMP's Liquid Lounge, and [Mirabeau] are all happening within five blocks of each other. There's a huge bar culture here." Steichen adds, "[It's] coming into its own as being a stand-alone neighborhood."
The duo cites the influx of 25- to 35-year-olds into Queen Anne and the robust health of hipster emporium Easy Street Records as proof this neighborhood can support a club catering more to Dizzee Rascal acolytes than to Dean Martin fans.
With talent like Nordic Soul (Jargon), Vitamin D (Sabado Sessions), Darek Mazzone (Globalista), and Anchimon (Bus Stop) helming their respective nights, Mirabeau has a strong foundation. Now if it can just find somebody to host that mash-up night, all would be perfect....