WAR ROOM STRATEGY Marcus Lalario and his proud papa. Kelly O
It's not every club that has a GQ photo shoot on its roof pre-opening night. And it's not every night that a new venue sports work by internationally renowned street artist Shepard Fairey on its walls. But it's not every ownership team that can turn a nondescript former gay bar into a hopping new watering hole. Judging from the look, crowd, and energy level of the new club the War Room (722 E Pike St) on the eve of its public opening, though, the place is about to score on all fronts (GQ photographers were spotted snapping away on its roof last weekend). Owned by Under the Needle/Yo, Son!'s Marcus Lalario and Graylife's Brian Rauschenbach, the War Room is a gorgeous multi-level club that further brings the high-class touch of Belltown bars like Viceroy to the Hill. Between its dim lighting, wood paneling, and low lounge seating, the vibe is a mix of modern L.A. lodge and kick-back dance club--and once the weather changes, happy hour will be all about securing seating on the rooftop deck before the mad rush (plan your early-weekend work escape routes now). The War Room officially opened March 27, announcing the return of Circle of Fire's weekly and plans for indie-mash-up, hiphop, and rock nights in the hopper, so stay tuned for further developments on that space.

With both the War Room and the Pine Street bar Bus Stop popping up in the last couple months, Capitol Hill can't have all the new nightspots. Fremont's High Dive opens this weekend (April 1) at 513 North 36th Street, promising an "all rock" venue for the neighborhood (meaning, according to the owners, six nights a week of "edgier" music, everything from "alt-rock to electro, post-punk to alt-country"). The High Dive's opening night showcase includes Triple X Audio, Ms. Led, and Infomatik, and on April 2 the place hosts Pistol Star, Shimmer, and Vast Capitol. Interface Booking + Management (which also handles the Nectar Lounge, and used to work with ToST) will take care of High Dive booking along with Bradbury Press drummer Greg Garcia (Eric Poll owns the club)…. Down the road in Ballard, the Sunset is finally offering hard alcohol. Now you can plant yourself at this fine establishment for an entire show without having to run next door to the Ballard Smoke Shop for a shot or three between bands (although many of us will continue to patronize the Smoke Shop just out of fondness and habit). The new liquor license also means the Sunset can finally just be called that (and no longer "the Sunset Tavern.")

Outside of the clubs, there are a couple of great music events happening this week, what with the Jennifer Gentle laser light show performance (see page 35) on Wednesday, April 6. Another oddball (and yet, so right) combination where you can bring a pillow: Heavy Metal Horrors IV: Metal vs. Monsters is the first event from the Grand Illusion's late night pro- grammer Ivan Peycheff, and it goes down Saturday, April 2. Starting at midnight, the gory party at the Seven Gables Theater features live performances from Big Business, the Abodox, and Doomsday 1999 preceding a marathon of rare horror trailers and '80s sci-fi/horror movies TerrorVision, Monster Squad, and The Being. Peycheff says he hopes to pull off the next big metal/B-movie match over the summer at one of our lovely local drive-ins, which would be too sweet for words. This one costs $12, and Peycheff says you can bring your blankies if you need to.

Other good shit this week: I can't give Death from Above 1979 enough love. In Austin recently I broke my own rule of not seeing any band more than once and watched them knock the wind outta drum-and-bass rock on three separate occasions. As I said in this week's Stranger Suggests, they are pure audio cocaine. They'll be at Neumo's on Thursday, March 31 (the same night Tommy Lee drops a DJ set at Club Medusa. Decisions, decisions). For what it's worth, though, DFA '79's You're a Woman, I'm a Machine is one of my top records of, like, ever, and they slay live.

They're not coming through town yet, but how amazing is that new Mars Volta record? At a time when a lot of mainstream rock is a quick ride across four chords, why not rocket on a prog spaceship to the moon and dip into a galaxy where Latin rhythms orbit punk aggression, where wailing in a metal falsetto or making your guitars weep like wailing widows is par for the uncharted course? Mars Volta have been often faulted for being a pretentious act, but on Francis the Mute, they prove that it's vision, not pretension, that guides their magnificent rock force. More bands should be so broad in scope. It's a gorgeously intense record--both in brains and sheer rock brawn.