EDM has become a trigger word to many people. For some, it conjures images of festival lights and chilled bones. For others, drugged out teenagers and promiscuous activity. Still others hear nothing but “the untz.” Most can agree that “EDM” characterizes the popularized modern dance music sound. Big kicks, robotic growls, stuttered vocals, huge synth chords.
But when did dance music become so definable? Disco and four-on-the-floor rock music has been moving feet since before most of us were in diapers. If your goal is to get an entire city dancing, you’d better spread a wide net. That’s exactly what The Fenix, Seattle’s newest old club, aims to do. Occupying the space held for many years by Last Supper Club, The Fenix has big shoes to fill. We won’t belay the point – The Fenix rocks. If their D-List Magazine sponsored Industry Night was an indicator, there are many amazing nights to come.
Gone are the long bar tables that previously crowded the floor, replaced instead by open area for all to dance. A full-on stage now occupies the space that used to house the DJ booth, with plenty of room for drums, guitars, and the works. The VIP spaces have been reimagined to be much more inviting and open. The bar has been intelligently separated from the floor by – you guessed it – a metal bar. LSC regulars will also notice the remodeled entry way, one of our favorite improvements to the space. Black leather, red velvet, and understated cool abounds. If you’re imagining the rec room Bono and Steve Vai would build, you’re there.
Improved space notwithstanding, a music venue is only as good as its talent and execution. Many clubs have tried and failed to marry rock n’ roll grit with EDM decadence. On the roster, sponsored by Hendrick’s and Budweiser, were Seattle’s own Dr. Fever and Ben Garrison. The headliner for the night was local band Ben Union, who bill themselves as “diverse pop music with balls.” It was a show that had more than enough potential for discord and mayhem. What happened instead was a small bit of pure magic.
The most outstanding part of the evening was the sheer lack of any down time. The two hours of opening (and well-executed) deep house transitioned into Ben Union’s first song completely seamlessly. We can’t stress this enough. It was as if nothing had happened. Some DJs struggle to make this switch between two CDJs. The Fenix pulled it off live in a way so powerful no one even knew they had. After the band’s set, the music made another utterly elegant transition back to mainstream EDM and hip-hop. Not one single beat missed. We sweat the details at DMNW, and this feat was not lost on us.
Ben Union, for their part as Fenix headliners, tore the roof off with a spirited performance any dance music fan could appreciate. Original tracks were interspersed with favorites from upbeat bands like The White Stripes, The Black Keys, and Wolfmother. Crisp and clean performances from each band member were given, and the energy was high. The open dance floor area even allowed frontman Ben to enter the crowd and sing. There’s something raw and intimate about rock that EDM still struggles to capture. Ben Union were placed perfectly between two stellar DJs to bring that energy to the table.
Mention also should be made to the D-List crew and Fenix staff for their great vibes. Staff were all smiles, making sure those of us attending had a worthwhile experience. Table toys were provided, and the slow motion video booth proved to be the hit of the evening. The Fenix isn’t still without it’s flaws (the bathrooms still suck, period), but any issues seemed to revolve around the smooth flow of people. We imagine those logistics will be worked out as time goes on.
It isn’t all that often a once-great brand makes a comeback. It isn’t often that same brand is willing to reinvent itself to fit the times. And even if they do, it isn’t often that the cards come up favorably. Breaking out is hard, but coming back is even harder. The Fenix has proven that the key to a triumphant return is great music, good vibes, and flawless execution. Who knew?
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