Though it has spent its days under several names, one thing has remained the same at current-day El Corazón – its true purpose as a live music space right at the heart of the Seattle’s vibrant rock scene.
Originally founded in 1910, the legendary locale has functioned as a music venue, club and bar all while undergoing a series of name changes over the years including Graceland, The Off Ramp, Sub-Zero, The Eastlake East Cafe and Au Go Go. Despite the frequent makeovers, the venue’s true spirit never wavered.
Over its 107 year existence, El Corazón has seen and been a part of the fabric of the city. In the early ’90s, the Eastlake Avenue venue was at the epicenter of a grunge explosion, which changed the Seattle music scene indefinitely. Some of the world’s most renowned bands and artists have played at the space including Pearl Jam for their first five shows, Nirvana for their Seattle debut, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Mudhoney just to name a few.
In more recent times, the venue has served as a launching pad and shaped the careers of bands like The Fall of Troy, Macklemore, Aiden, Schoolyard Heroes – all of whom later went on to sign major record label deals.
In early 2005, the space once known to locals as Graceland took on its current name, El Corazón, under the ownership of Dana Sims. With a notorious specialty in metal, punk, alternative and hardcore bookings, Sims is also a talent buyer for El Corazón. In an interview with Sonicbids Blog, Sims explains the complexities of the talent buying business.
“We have an 800-capacity room [in El Corazón] and in today’s music economy, you pretty much do it all. And flexibility is the key, because these days, attention spans are short, and some genres of music get hot and then they go cold … We have some bands that sell out in advance, then they come back six months later, and they have trouble selling out the room. Then we have some bands that make the slow climb … but flexibility is key, and we do everything there. I can’t think of a genre of music that we don’t do.”
An ever-changing music scene has allowed Sims to understand the importance in being flexible and thus he has taken an all-inclusive approach by booking artists from across the genre spectrum.
In addition to the 800-cap room, El Corazón is equipped with its very own lounge. The former iteration of the 200-cap lounge was transformed into a newly redesigned space in April 2015 and was christened as the Funhouse Lounge.
The new name for the El Corazón offshoot came as a result of a recently established partnership between Sims, Brian Foss (former owner of the original Funhouse), and Bobby Kuckelburg, the latter two who are both also owners of the popular Victory Lounge.
The Funhouse used to be a stand alone dive bar and venue in its heyday (circa 2003). It operated for 9 years at its former location, adjacent to Zak’s 5th Avenue Saloon. The bar quickly became known as the go-to spot for the creative community and locals. Bands like Spits, Dead Moon, No Means No, Guttermouth, Red Fang played sold out shows in the intimate space.
In a sad turn of events though, Funhouse was forced to shut down due to developers who were looking to redevelop the land. Nevertheless, when a partnership with Sims presented an opportunity to open the lounge, Foss and Kuckelburg knew they wanted to recapture the spirit of their old venue. That vision quickly coalesced into the reopening of the Funhouse as the Funhouse Lounge, as a part of the larger El Corazón family.
Today, El Corazón and the Funhouse Lounge position themselves as one of the largest independently owned venues in the Seattle scene, offering daily happy hour specials, food, and quality live music.
Check out the El Corazón and Funhouse Lounge calendar for their upcoming gigs here.