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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Moore: Perfectly Imperfect at 100

posted by on December 11 at 14:30 PM

Moore100_121007_8263.jpgPhotos by Justin Renney

The cold air stopped at the front door of the Moore Theater last night. Beatboxing carolers provided a warm welcome, and, once inside, the place was a churning, humid flush of Vaudevillian action. There was a charge of untethered activity, what behind-the-scenes at a behind-the-scenes Bob Fosse production might feel like. It was as if the crowd—swarming with families and couples and rockers and nine-to-fivers—was roped into the performance. Which seemed willy-nilly in terms of talent: an opera singer, a burlesque teaser, a pair of acrobats, a classical violinist, a sax player hanging out in the balcony blowing between acts.

The theater itself is truly majestic, a century-old piece of Seattle history still fit to honor the tradition it established. Brendan Kiley recently wrote about the Moore’s decaying elegance; I’d never been inside the place before, so I had no idea. He’s right. The Moore is the best room I’ve been inside of in the city: unfussy, solid, grand and beautiful in its practicality. Nothing is built like that anymore.

The backstage, Vaudevillian atmosphere fit it keenly. Not to say the Moore’s centennial celebration was poorly planned. On the countrary, I bet whoever put the event together knew how perfectly chaotic the night would feel. That person also knew that the room itself demanded an old-fashioned free-for-all pace on this occasion. Watching adults and children maintain proper behavior in an unstructured environment can be very heartening.


A “secret bar” onstage allowed the intrepid to either ascend onstage past the MC in between acts (to gentle heckling) or find the out-of-the-way side door that led to stage right. Some younger kids tapdanced, some older kids tapdanced really well, the opera singer sang “Happy Birthday”, and hundreds and hundreds of people lined up for cake—a plastic-looking cake shaped like the Moore. Many of them stayed on-stage while someone played “Age of Aquarius” over the PA and the more boozed-up boomers pranced around waving their arms and the rest of us looked on perplexed.


Eventually, an ad-hoc rock band played cover songs at the back of the stage. Projections detailed all the performers that played the Moore in the last 100 years and all the videos made there. (“Evenflow”—I had no idea.) The cover songs kept coming—“Comfortably Numb,” “Crazy On You”—and some people left and others stayed for cake and beer while semi-chaos reigned and the old theater withstood it all.

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You had no idea "Evenflow" was filmed at the Moore???????????? That's like the NME guy telling Morrissey he knew nothing about David Bowie!

For shame...

Posted by Hal | December 11, 2007 2:33 PM

Loved it; great Stranger Suggests.

The different entrance for colored people to get up to the second balcony which used to be bleacher seats was interesting...and the view from up there was really cool (and so close to the huge dome at the top)

Not to mention being able to go under the stage and see some of the old dressing/green rooms.

Oh and the free booze also made it pretty perfect.

Posted by Lake | December 11, 2007 2:37 PM

I saw GWAR there once. How's that for juxtaposition?

Also My Bloody Valentine, one of the loudest shows I've ever seen, I saw there.

Posted by Dougsf | December 11, 2007 2:44 PM

It was a fun evening.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | December 11, 2007 2:53 PM

Wow, that girl in the middle photo looks hungry. I it looks like that dude discovered something is not quite right about that scale model.

Posted by Gay Seattle | December 11, 2007 3:36 PM

Beautiful job STG! You really did The Moore proud! May she live on for another 100!!

p.s. GaySeattle dude: The girl is cutting the cake, the guy is serving it.

Posted by Autumn | December 11, 2007 3:45 PM

Indeed a fun time. I wanted to see the pool in the basement, I was told that it is now the stage shop. Missed the greenrooms though, that would have been cool.

Posted by langston | December 11, 2007 4:29 PM

Man, STG knows how to throw a party!! The whole night was killer and free. That was not an adhoc band - that was some of Seattle's biggest rockstars mixed w/ musicians who are on the STG staff. (Speaking of staff, have you seen who they've hired lately? Kate Becker and Adam Zacks. The double powerhouse! Look out Seattle) And I agree, the Moore is the best room in the city - especially for rock and hip hop shows. And the Moore looked better than i've ever seen it last night. Awesome party!

Posted by korean kid | December 11, 2007 4:42 PM

I've seen a lot of great shows at the Moore over the years -- Dead Kennedys. Wu-Tang Clan, Nirvana, White Stripes, to name a few -- and agree that it is a beautiful spot.

That said, the sound needs a serious overhaul, the seats in the balcony are terrifically uncomfortable, and the bathrooms suck. The bar downstairs needs help, too.

Agreed with @8: Adam and Kate will do a fantastic job with the room. I hope STG ponies up some dough to improve the experience. Shabby grandeur is lovely but it better fucking sound good if it's a live venue.

Posted by kerri harrop | December 11, 2007 5:36 PM

Yes, the Moore does need to be renovated, but those are pretty harsh words for the not for profit that manages - doesn't own the place. As for the bathroom's if you would of showed up last night you would of seen some NEW bathrooms in the balcony.

Awesome COMMUNITY event, haven't seen something like that in a long while.

Posted by pIckles | December 11, 2007 7:40 PM

I'm really disappointed that I didn't go!

Posted by Dod | December 11, 2007 8:01 PM

Kate + Adam = Ace + Ace
The queen of the all ages scene + the king of booking. Quite a pair i'd say.
How did STG get dealt such a lucky hand?

Posted by Sarina | December 11, 2007 8:37 PM

Even with its 100 year history, what always comes to mind when someone mentions the Moore is the PJ video shot there.

Posted by Bauhaus | December 11, 2007 9:12 PM

My girlfriend and I are really into the arts, but mostly the stuff at the Paramount and the Fifth Avenue. The Moore has always been to "out there" for us. I mean, that whole show seemed to be about saggy-boobed hippies doing the cha-cha or something.

It would be great if Microsoft or Boeing or somebody cool would take it over and make it a really radical performance space: You know, Wi-fi access, and a microbrew pub, and great shows like "Rent" and "Stomp".

And make the building into condos. That would be cool. We have a condo on Capitol Hill already, but there's so many gay people there that we might want to move downtown - although I don't know what is worse - gay guys or homeless.

Kidding!! LOL!!

Posted by Condo Guy | December 11, 2007 10:25 PM

@ 3 - I was at that My Bloody Valentine show as well!

Posted by joshuuuua | December 11, 2007 10:32 PM

Moore at 100? Wow. Well, congrats Michael! I didn't think you'd make it with all that extra weight.

Posted by butterw | December 12, 2007 10:30 AM

Now that the Moore is 100, it is about time to install new balcony seats and do something about the cold, musty draft (summer and winter) on the second level too. Where do we send our tax-deductible donations?

Posted by Bill & Carol | December 12, 2007 1:37 PM

I'm bummed I missed most of it...had a GREAT time, though, for what I was able to make. so when's the "house band" going on tour!! You guys sounded GREAT! That cake was pretty imresspive, too. (not to mention a pain to cut ;0)

Cheers to 100 years, here's to 100 moore!

Posted by Emily | December 14, 2007 12:33 PM

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