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Not Too Big, Not Too Small 

Everyone says Spokane needs a mid-sized venue. Here are six.

click to enlarge 3 Inches of Blood playing Stage54 two weeks ago - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • 3 Inches of Blood playing Stage54 two weeks ago

We’ve been hearing it for a long time: that the answer for Spokane’s music scene would be to have a mid-size music venue — places that could cater to the bands too big to play Empyrean or the Cretin Hop and too small to play the Knitting Factory. If we had them, those touring bands would stop here, right? When we started looking around, we realized we already have some mid-sizers. So spread the word: now’s the time to play Spokane. (LS)

STAGE54
25 E. Lincoln Rd., Spokane | 866-907- 8243 | All-ages, 18 and 21 shows
Capacity: 300
Opened: 2010; used to be called Elements Night Club.
Go There For: Mid-sized metal and rock shows. Large open pit. Two bars. On our trip there: The neon lights, wall of mirrors and young female bartenders reveal its danceclub heritage. The space is wide open and not too pretty, but great for loud, rowdy concerts. It’s worth exploring the terrain: Work your way though the fog machine at the front to the bar. Fight through hair, sweat and blood in the pit. Try to get into the VIP lounge.
Where They Fit In: “We’re kind of a smaller version of the Knitting Factory,” says owner Jayme Cozzetto. “The north side doesn’t really have a venue, and I want to give that back. During the week are club events, but the weekend shows are our time to shine.”
Catch These Shows: Metal Mondays (all ages until 11 pm); Civilized Animal, Oct. 8; Best Coast on Oct. 31. (JB)

THE GRAIL
4720 Seltice Way, Coeur D’Alene (208) 665-5882 | All-ages and 18 shows
Capacity: 500-1,000
Opened: 2002
Go There For: Excellent sound system. The outdoor stage known as “Mini Gorge.” Free parking.
On Our Trip There: It doesn’t matter who you go to see, you should go and stay because of Larry Sumner, owner Lang’s father. He’ll tell you stories about the 52 guitars that hang on the walls there and can rattle off the name of practically every band that’s played at the Grail.
The Owner Says: “Our wish is that we can do something to help the bands that play here get signed,” says the younger Sumner. “Yeah, we’re farther from Spokane but … we’re the only venue that gives bands a full recording of their set for free and 100 percent of [ticket sales from] the door, and we have front- and back-of-the-house sound … so the drive is worth it.”
Catch These Shows: Strong Refuge, Oct. 2; The Flying Mammals, Oct. 8; The Paper Melody, Oct. 19. (AP)

NYNE
232 W. Sprague | 474-1621 | Minors until 9 pm
Capacity: 376
Opened: June 2010
Go There For: Shows so open-air they feel like they’re outside. Thursday night live music. Shooting hoops.
On Our Trip There: More of a drink/bar/ dancing hotspot than a live music venue, and we were surprised to see a basketball court in the middle of the bar. Yes, you read that right. A group of girls was playing 2-on-2 when we were there while Lady Gaga bumped over the sound system. The venue is huge — and classy. A folk band or a blues outfit would really fill the place with the right vibe.
The Owner Says: “We wanted to open up a cool, comfortable place where we could offer live music,” co-owner Kitty Kane says. “We’re obviously appealing to different groups — more blues, jazz type thing.“ Kane says since live music is new to them, she’s open to any style being showcased there.
Catch These Shows: 50 Cent Suit, Sept. 30; Ellis, Oct. 21. (LS)

ICHIBAN
202 W. 3rd Ave., Spokane | 747-8877 | 21 shows
Capacity: 376
Opened: Used to be called Top of China Buffet. Reopened as Ichiban in 2007.
Go There For: Tasty sushi, unusual acts and the cheap wooden stage.
On Our Trip There: Come early for the food — the wait-staff is friendly and the drinks keep coming. The concert area might underwhelm you, but the older crowd and dinner-and-a-show vibe is inviting. It’s not the place to catch big-time bands, but it’s comfortable enough to come here often.
The Owner Says: “We feel right downtown,” says manager Tom Huynh. “We have a very big parking lot, a nice inside and will keep showing music to keep the customers happy.”
Catch These Shows: Bob Curnow Big Band Jazz Oct. 4 and Oct. 28. (JB)

ACLUB
416 W. Sprague | 624-3629 | All-ages and 21 shows
Capacity: 299
Opened: 2010; formerly the Casbah
Go There For: Original 1926 ballroom floor for dancing or moshing. Supper-club-style terraced seating for sipping cocktails and gawking at dancers/ moshers. It’s our own little Crystal Ballroom.
On Our Trip There: We’ve been to AClub twice: once for Rough Congress and once for Japandroids. And the space worked for both. At one, AClub was a high-class spot: 40-something ladies twirling with their girlfriends on the dance floor. And for the other, kids sparsely nodded their heads in sync with the rock beat while the bar stayed packed and noisy. We stood there hoping, praying to the gods of Spokane rock that this place gets a regular booker and takes off.
The Owner Says: “We’re starting to book [more shows], but it’s primarily groups from outside of the area,” says owner Steffan Wacholz. “It’s difficult to compete with the really small venues: Why would people want to pay a cover when they could go to Mootsy’s downstairs and not pay a cover? We want to have a whole range of music. It could be jazz, it could be rock, it could be big band. I want to be very open.”
Catch These Shows: Astronautalis, Oct. 10; Latin Nights every Saturday. (LS)

BLUZ AT THE BEND
2721 N. Market St., Spokane | 483-7300 | 21 shows
Capacity: 175
Opened: 2006.
Go There For: Rhythm and blues. Sunday night jam sessions. An intimate dance floor.
On Our Trip There: You never know who’s going to show up Sunday evening. Snoop Dogg or your next-door neighbor with a Fender. At first glance, the regulars stare. But after an oversized beer and a twirl around the ’80s dance floor, you’ll fit right in.
The Owner Says: “The city tells people to go downtown, but the reality is people have to support their neighborhood clubs and restaurants,” says owner Don Parkins. “Here we’ll have 25 different bands in a one-month span. That’s how we contribute to the local music community.”
Catch These Shows: Charlie Butts, Oct. 1-2; Soul Proprietor, Oct. 29-30. (JB)

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