The latest addition to the Hard Rock Cafe franchise opened its doors last night in Seattle. One might say that it was long overdue, considering the city is a rock ‘n’ roll town, and Vancouver (which is not even close to being a rock ‘n’ roll town, sorry) had one and lost it.
So what does a Hard Rock Cafe circa 2010 look like? Well, going by the three-level Seattle venture, very much like the old Hard Rock Cafes. Rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia – a fur-lined jacket once worn by Elvis, a drum kit from Chad Channing (original Nirvana drummer), guitars once picked by the likes of Eric Clapton – hang on the walls, the logo is the same, and a boutique sells Hard Rock Cafe T-shirts and other souvenirs. All in all, the Seattle site – near Pike Place Market – has that familiar Hard Rock feel with a few frills, such as a rooftop deck.
A “guitar smash” and a couple of Pacific Northwest bands provided the entertainment on the night of the grand opening (May 20), and though we missed the guitar smash we caught Portland band the Thermals and most of Seattle group Ra Ra Riot. A six-piece with two string players, Ra Ra Riot put on a set that annoyed my companion no end with what she heard as a similarity to Broken Social Scene. (I thought they were great, and that they sounded more like Dirty Projectors. But then my critical faculties were somewhat blurred at that point by the open bar and Seattle pours.)
As for celebrities – well, the only person I recognized was Kim Warnick, of prototypical Seattle pop-punk band the Fastbacks. In a town crawling with musicians, though, I’m sure a Young Fresh Fellow, a Mudhoney or a Peter Buck couldn’t have been far behind.