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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Neumo’s to Book Chop Suey

posted by on June 19 at 12:05 PM

The entirety of a just-arrived press release:

Chop Suey is proud to announce that, in addition to booking for Neumo’s, Steven Severin and Jason Lajeunesse will take on our national booking. Kris Kierulff will continue booking all local shows.

That’s the news. Here’s the editorial.

WTF? This announcement reveals the bullshit that Chop Suey has been flinging at the press for the past two weeks, since the dismissal of Colin Johnson as booker. I have a hard time believing this arrangement wasn’t in the works before Johnson was fired; the potentially bullshit “bottom-line” rationale, as well as the certifiably bullshit “community relevance” rationale were stall tactics.

The move itself is also not good. I support Severin and think he does great work at Neumo’s. But the last thing Capitol Hill needs—the last thing Seattle needs, in fact—is more consolidation. Johnson brought bands and DJs and booked events that Severin wouldn’t or couldn’t, period. They were different and edgy as well as highly successful. Now those events are gonna happen at Nectar while Chop Suey becomes Neumo’s Jr.

There aren’t enough quality venues in this town to afford this kind of reacharound. Variety makes for a healthy scene. Consolidation makes for fewer people making more money.

Hopefully Severin et al will prove me wrong and continue with the killer electro/hiphop/indie stuff that Johnson worked so well at Chop Suey, maintaining its own unique vibe, while continuing to do what they do well at Neumo’s.

RSS icon Comments


yeah, this is weird. the two venues have always been friendly, but if that was flirting, this is club incest. i'm not sure how this one works out in practice, but i suppose we'll all find out. hope the bookings stay as adventurous as they have been.

neumos jr. - good one.

Posted by donte | June 19, 2007 12:25 PM

Some of the "different","edgy", and "highly successful" shows at Chop Suey that you speak of were booked and promoted by Steven's company Wake Up Productions.

Posted by Pretty Titty | June 19, 2007 12:26 PM

"Johnson brought bands and DJs and booked events that Severin wouldn’t or couldn’t, period. "

i have to whole heartedly disagree with this statement. the foundation for the musical styles/acts booked at chop suey were originally laid down by steven while he was talent buyer there before colin. if anything, colin picked up steven's torch and ran with it. and did a mighty fine job.

you have to keep in mind the capacity of the 2 clubs is hugely different. which would explain why even though steven would be interested in booking an act like say dj food, he wouldn't do it at neumos because the venue is just too big.

yes, the rationale from chop suey was obviously total bullshit, but i can't see the quality of the bookings changing much at all.

Posted by silver surfer | June 19, 2007 12:32 PM

Johnson brought bands and DJs and booked events that Severin wouldn’t or couldn’t, period.

Whoa there, tiger. Have you been to Neumo's? "Wouldn't or couldn't" is irrelevant when you compare the capacity of the two venues. A draw of 200 for an act like Soulwax or Datarock doesn't make sense financially for a club the size of Neumo's.

Have you forgotten (or were you aware) that Steven used to book Chop Suey up until August of last year? Different and edgy acts have been the norm at Chop for as long as I can remember.

Don't get me wrong, I agree that Colin was doing a great job bringing in acts that had the community stoked; Broken Disco was his baby and is the best thing to happen to Seattle's nightlife in years. But I don't think that this arrangement is a death knell for either Chop or Neumo's. Jason and Steven have great taste in music and a breadth of contacts in the booking and touring realm, and now they have the opportunity to utilize that for shows whose draw may not have made sense for Neumo's.

Posted by bailee. | June 19, 2007 12:35 PM

Jonathan - all respect man, but how long you been in town? Seattle has a TON of venues right now compared to what we had historically, and a bunch of them aren't making money because there is so much competition. I think Colin is a great booker. But bottom line is bottom line and if you book shows that don't sell enough tickets to make money, well, changes get made. Keep in mind that Steven and Jason at Neumo's BOTH book Neumo's right now, and they have time to book both venues with great nationals while Kris K and Roy - two guys who have been around the scene for a while - bring in great local stuff. Your assumption about how things went down is a stretch unless you have info others don't. At the end of the day, the great thing is that Colin will still be doing the great shit he was doing, Steven is back bringing national shows to Chop, and there's some new blood on the scene. On balance, it seems that there is almost a new venue in town with Colin doing more at Nectar. This shouldn't be controversy, it all seems cool to me. Maybe time to chill about this. Though, good you're covering the local scene, it needs it.

Posted by Meinert | June 19, 2007 12:41 PM

Ha, ha, ha! This is what happens when The Stranger hires a music editor from Florida/San Francisco. No wonder the Weekly is kicking your ass in the music coverage dept.

Posted by lars | June 19, 2007 12:43 PM

"But the last thing Capitol Hill needs—the last thing Seattle needs, in fact—is more consolidation. Johnson brought bands and DJs and booked events that Severin wouldn’t or couldn’t, period."

i also have to completely disagree here. as pretty titty stated, many of the best bookings since steven's departure from the chop have actually been through wakeup. besides that, steven and jason have mad history of bringing music to this city - always a catalyst to growth, never narrow-minded in my opinion. between them there is a HUGE range of musical taste, and they have proven time and time again that they know what works.

i sincerely doubt any bookings that you see on the hill will go to nectar; that's just not realistic, both from a promoter perspective and booking agents / artists wanting to be there.

to me, this just means that people whose taste we know and trust - steven and jason - now have the ability to put shows in the right venues. it's probably going to help or be unnoticeable, except when the shows make more money.

colin's a friend and a great guy, and for whatever reason things didn't work out with him and the chop, but they shouldn't be obligated to keep him if he's not making money for them. this is a business, after all. hopefully nectar goes well for him - i know i'll be there more often now - and looking forward to the steven/jason partnership.

and jonathan, you'll see what we mean as the months unfold, you're just a little new around here ; ).

Posted by invisible woman | June 19, 2007 12:48 PM

So, Chop Suey and Neumo's kinda go back to the way they were a little over a year ago.

And Fremont now has a venue for great electronic music.

And this is bad, because...?

I don't blame Jonathan for this piece if he did come from San Francisco. That Nightlife proposal that's still currently spinning around in Seattle City Council right now had been implemented in San Francisco a while ago, and the result was immediate consolidation of talent while edging out anyone financially who wanted to introduce more variety. So I take it that Jonathan is having a gut reaction to that here.

Posted by matthew fisher wilder | June 19, 2007 12:54 PM

Just another prime example of the weak city we are. We don't have one other person in all of Seattle that could book gigs? Sad. Really sad. We don't need this. We need freshness and diversity. Seattle WTF man????

Posted by we are lame | June 19, 2007 1:05 PM

Uh oh, Darth Meinert hath spoken. Lord of smug bastards.

And PLEASE don't start in with the Weekly bullshit. The Weekly is for people that live in Bellevue. And that's cool for them.

Zwickel, I love your stuff man. I'm glad we got someone in here that's not tied to bias and clicks. Someone with a fresh take.

I'm sure Lars would do a much better job, but for some reason, he or she is a commentor and not a music editor.

Posted by Hansolo | June 19, 2007 1:05 PM

wtf. steven was booking plenty of "different" and "edgy" acts up until he left for neumo's and colin took over. he took a lot of risks in bringing the "electro/hiphop/indie" acts you mention, and maintained a dedication to the community by continuing to book many great underground artists even though while some did very well, others were sparsely attended.

with all due respect to colin's good work at chop suey, steven did a fantastic job before he did and i think maybe you should dig a bit deeper before calling bullshit.

Posted by skye | June 19, 2007 1:09 PM

dude gimme a break, what we DON'T need is chop suey falling into the hands of less experienced talent buyers and ruining a great club.

i know no other talent buyer who has the passion, commitment and levelheadedness of mr severin.

viva la monkey!

Posted by you are lame | June 19, 2007 1:10 PM

Colin was squeezed out, but that's how this business works. Anyone who thinks otherwise needs to TOUGHEN THE FUCK UP.

Luckily Colin has landed at Nectar, while that is no Cap Hill club, it's a good place to build on. Fremont, like Ballard, has a hungry crowd of entertainment seekers. The fact that Colin will now be shaping that neighborhood makes me breathe a HUGE sigh of relief.

Posted by Whatevs | June 19, 2007 1:12 PM

The consolidation is lame, and the less-than-forthcoming dealings with the press are frustrating, but yeah, Steven and Jason are great bookers. Whatever else one can say about this, the quality of shows at these venues will likely not suffer. Maybe the only difference, from the perspective of the average show-goer, will be an improvement in the booking over at Nectar.

Posted by Eric Grandy | June 19, 2007 1:18 PM

@ #12

dude gimme a break, what we DON'T need is chop suey falling into the hands of less experienced talent buyers and ruining a great club.

Colin "ruined" Chop Suey? Perhaps he wasn't bringing in the numbers that Chop wanted (assuming we can believe their claim as to why they fired Colin), but he was booking some great shows and keeping the club in the black at the same time. Pretty damn far from ruining the club, wouldn't ya say?

Posted by Greg J | June 19, 2007 1:29 PM

i personally think this is a great news. chop suey is an awesome venue. having this venue booked by quality talent bookers such as steven severin and jason lajaunesse, makes chop suey even better. no... i'm not saying that colin johnson was a bad booker at chop suey. he's awesome as well. anyway, that was the past. the present and the future is that we will see more variety shows and bands on capitol hill. think of the venues capacities, 500 and 800, they will have more freedom of making the shows happen without losing $$$. my two cents...

Posted by FortuneKiki | June 19, 2007 1:39 PM

i was referring to who ever would replace colin as i believe it was pretty evident that having kris handling everything was just a short term solution until they picked someone with national talent buying experience.

i wasn't referring to colin in the slightest.

Posted by greg you are lame | June 19, 2007 1:48 PM

i'm no fan of monopolies or consolidation or corporate culture but jason and steven booking the chop hardly fits into that category.

they are proven talent buyers, with really long histories in this market. along with chad q at the showbox, these gentlemen represent some of the finest in their business.

colin has a great new gig over at nectar, the chop will benefit from some shows that are too small for neumo's, and there are plenty of opportunities for youngbloods to learn a thing or two about making a venue cool AND profitable.

booking a club is a thankless job and it takes years of experience to do it effectively. bills still gotta get paid.

Posted by kerri harrop | June 19, 2007 2:00 PM

and, yo, this is really no different from how booking business is currently conducted.

the aforementioned talent buyers, along with a variety of other booking agents, all book shows in venues that they are not employed by. this is standard practice in most major markets.

i'm more puzzled by why chop suey felt the need to issue a press release about it. they need to chill out with telling everyone their business and just do it. we're not talking about a telecommunications merger here. jesus.

Posted by kerri harrop | June 19, 2007 2:09 PM

Aren't Neumo's and Chop Suey competitors? Isn't this arrangement something like Dan Savage editing Seattle Weekly?

Posted by pete maravich's socks | June 19, 2007 2:19 PM

I was working with Steven and Chop Suey before Colin started interning and eventually working there as talent buyer after Steven left for Neumos. Format wise, I feel much of what Colin was bringing to Chop Suey was a product of Steven's prior involvement with the club, which I was involved with as a promoter. Both Colin and Steven are excellent at what they do and I am confident that Chop Suey will continue to function as an effective alternative for electronic music, hip hop and indie programming that might not work at a venue like Neumos that has a much larger capacity and costs substantially more to work with. I know that Steven has had to pass on many shows that would've worked well at Chop Suey, which he’ll now have the option to use.

I do feel that Colin was instrumental in bringing together some great events and his legacy Chop Suey should not be forgotten. Lucky for Colin, Nectar is about as good a venue you're going to find off the hill and I think his involvement with the club will help to take Freemont out of the college/jam band world it's been by dominated by for years. The question I have is, are people willing to travel there for quality shows like the one's Colin intends to bring? If so, I think Colin's roll as a talent buyer at Nectar might be better served in an area like Freemont that could really use a push.

Either way, I think both Colin and Steven’s involvement with the Seattle nightlife is only expanding, which is the big picture here. I wish them both the best of luck moving forward.

Posted by Sean | June 19, 2007 2:23 PM

i've booked and have been involved with many events at nectar and i can tell you that people from capitol hill historically have made zero effort to get over there for shows that would usually happen on the hill (ie electronic, dj, indie rock). colin has his work cut out for him.

Posted by sour nectar | June 19, 2007 2:31 PM

so you have a show that is going to sell 500 21+ tickets, do you put it in the place where you make the same whether or not it happens there (at least short term), or do you put it in the place where you are also making money off the bar? You have a show you have to do to keep a big agent happy, likely to lose some dough, do you put it in the place where the bottom line is your bottom line, or the place where you are on salary? Imagine having a place paying you, and if it goes out of business, then your spot becomes more profitable!

Posted by pess | June 19, 2007 2:43 PM

"help to take Freemont out of the college/jam band world it's been by dominated by for years. " - ahh, of course, the natural evolution is - lowly jambands, and then the more evolved and superior indie rock bands & electronica... actually, nectar is one of the few clubs friendly to "jambands", and hopefully it stays that way. There's enough clubs doing indie rock. High dive is already doing that in fremont, and nectar already books some hiphop.

Nectar can definitely use Colin's help, but an exact template of what works on capitol hill might not necessarily work in a different neighborhood. It's nice to have some diversity.

Posted by jambandisadirtyword | June 19, 2007 3:03 PM

I first want to thank Seattle for all the support. I can't express in words how that makes me feel.

I have worked for almost a decade going back to RKCNDY working on shows. Since day 1 I have dedicated my life to bringing the best shows to Seattle that I possibly can.

Colin started at Chop Suey as my intern and he grew leaps and bounds over the years. He is in a great position to put Nectar on the National map. I have no doubt he'll be able to do that.

As for Chop Suey, Jason and I will continue to put the best shows we can in there. We will make sure that the right show goes in the right room. We think this will help the scene overall and Seattle will be glad for this change.

My 2 cents.

Posted by Steven Severin | June 19, 2007 3:38 PM

"- ahh, of course, the natural evolution is - lowly jambands, and then the more evolved and superior indie rock bands & electronica... actually, nectar is one of the few clubs friendly to "jambands", and hopefully it stays that way."

I didn't say anything about Jam Bands being "lowly", just over done in Freemont in the past from my experience. If that has changed in recent years, I was not aware of it. Thanks for the update.

Posted by Sean | June 19, 2007 3:40 PM

Steve, wouldn't that be your 4 cents now?

Posted by $$$ | June 19, 2007 3:46 PM

Sorry, bad at math

Posted by Steven Severin | June 19, 2007 3:56 PM

wait a minute, grandy. don't you dj one night a month at chop suey aka neumos jr?

Posted by hypocrite | June 19, 2007 4:19 PM

wait a minute, grandy. don't you dj one night a month at chop suey aka neumos jr?

Posted by hypocrite | June 19, 2007 4:20 PM

The consolidation/monopoly alarm is a huge stretch.

I think Meinert's comment regarding balance makes sense - Where you had three buyers booking two rooms, now you have the same buyers booking three rooms.

One last thing, I would wonder why Neumos has two buyers to begin with. At the Paramount, it makes sense: one buyer handles music, and the other handles theater. But at a small club, is there variety enough to support two buyers? There must be a reason, it's just not obvious to me.

Posted by Hot dog | June 19, 2007 4:35 PM

Sour Nectar does have a point. It will be quite a precedent to have Capitol Hill people actually leave Capitol Hill to see "Capitol Hill type shows" in a different part of town. I know this having been in a small crowd to see The Lights play at High Dive then see a much larger crowd at a Capitol Hill venue.

But Sour Nectar may or may not be forgetting the people in Wallingford, Ballard, Greenwood, and the U-district who can easily get to Fremont as well.

Ballard has also been self-sustainable but rarely in electronic or dance music. Hopefully those in Ballard who appreciate that will come to Nektar.

Posted by matthew fisher wilder | June 19, 2007 4:47 PM

Hey Steven!

Haven't talked to you in awhile--not since we were talking about the Bad JuJu...

But THIS latest announcement is very now you're not tied into only being able to bring in acts that can deliver the kind of numbers that the main room at Neumos can handle... Now, you've got more options.

And I hope that you're once again considering options beyond simply booking bands and djs.

(And, if you remember who I am, you can probably guess what I'm hinting at...)

--peter greyy

PS--I think this move has every chance to be good...and I'm looking forward to great shows in all three clubs (Neumos, Chop Suey, Nectar.)

Posted by pgreyy | June 19, 2007 5:04 PM

I am glad to see everyone seems to be keeping their heads about this on this forum. I think this arrangement between Steven/Jason and Chop Suey is actually going to benefit our scene more than people realize. Now the agents won't be able to play the talent buyers against each other as much (at least on the hill)and more shows will be able to happen because of this fact (and the ticket prices will be lower.. me thinks..)
I have worked extensively with both Steven and Colin and I have to say that
both of them have shown themselves to have more integrety than the talent buyers I have worked with in other cities..hands down. They have always made it very easy to do shows at their clubs and enjoyable as well.
Colin has landed somewhere (Nectar)that will allow him to use his many talents to breath some new life into a growing area of town. I know he is going to thrive there and they are going to be very happy that they snagged him up. Steven, on the other hand is perfect to book the national talent on Captitol Hill. He has extensive connections with national talent agents and knows the hill very well and what will work up here, and a very smart business sence.
I disagreed with how Colin was let go, but if you think about it--is there an easy way to fire someone?
And all this rumor I have been hearing about this and that, is just speculation. Conspiricies make for good conversation, but are rarely anywhere near the actual truth.

Posted by Patrick Haenelt | June 19, 2007 6:00 PM

i just heard steven and jason are going to turn both clubs into open mike/poetry slam venues!

i say we take off and nuke the site from orbit. it's the only way to be sure.

Posted by skye | June 19, 2007 10:29 PM

Well I just heard that they're going to turn both clubs into condos!

Posted by Greg J | June 20, 2007 2:33 AM

what ive learned:

1. severin and lajuenesse are well-respected by their peers.

2. severin was instrumental in raising up chop suey to the position it was in before colins tenure.

3. seattle is OK with a handful of well-respected people taking positions of responsibility and running everything.

4. its possible that other people in seattle dont want to step up to those positions of responsibility, for various reasons.

5. items number three and four are just how it is.

Posted by jz | June 20, 2007 10:27 AM

#37's #4

I wouldn't seriously consider an offer from someone that didn't recognize that Colin was doing a good job. What did that first press release say? Something along the lines of "we were making money with him, but he wasn't making us enough money"

Posted by bye bye bye | June 20, 2007 11:14 AM

UMM!!! i am struck by #20 & 34 Awful nice for Mr Severin, an OWNER of Nuemos, to be in charge of booking his most direct competition. hmmm. also as far as # 34 saying it should help bring ticket prices down are you out of your mind? Well the cost of the show MAY go down do to less competition in the market, the booker/promoter is not going to change ticket prices and make less money! the opportunity is there to make MORE money now thats all.

kudos to Jonathan for not being afraid to make noise.

Posted by umm | June 20, 2007 2:51 PM

I'm amazed at how many people think they know how clubs work and how shows are booked. Sure some of the folks on here do, and those are the comments that are intelligent and informed. Then you have mr. umm and Mr. jonathan that are completely ignorant.

Posted by they think they know | June 20, 2007 5:16 PM

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Posted by rewq4545 | July 1, 2007 12:56 AM

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