Posted November 7, 2014 by Cooper Point Journal in Arts & Entertainment

Obsidian Plans New Music Hub With Classic Values

By Ira Zuckerman

In past weeks, the jet black walls across 4th and Jefferson from the Crypt were under the warning sign: “Wet Acid Keep Out.” Over Halloween weekend, a new sign went up: “Obsidian Coming This Fall” in a Gothic font.

Formerly, these walls belonged to Jezebel’s Bar and Grill, a spot for $1 drinks and occasional live music. What stands there now is a cultural center in the making.

In the works for over a year, the newly established concert venue Obsidian is the project of Chris Beug and Nathan Weaver, veterans of both the business and the creation of urban arts and culture.

“A little over a year ago, we moved back to town. I grew up in Olympia, and so did Nate. When we were teens, the music scene here was really exciting, and we want to bring that back,” Beug said. “No one’s doing smart booking right now.”

Like any building under construction, the inside of 414 Fourth Ave SE was strewn with power tools and two-by-fours, but also stacks of weathered roadie trunks. Beug and Weaver are setting up Obsidian with experience not only from maintaining a space for musicians, but as musicians themselves.

“Nate and I have been in bands for 20 years,” Beug said. “Mostly in the underground metal scene, and some dark electronics too. We have really close ties with the Bay Area metal scene and Mutant Fest.”

With both perspectives of the Olympia music scene, Weaver and Beug have the gut to run the commercial side of things, but also inherent empathy for the musicians. Beug’s first rule of good booking is simple: “Pay the talent.”

“People will grumble, but it’s not gonna be just $5. Shows were $5 in 1996—it’s 2014. I hope the stuff we bring is high-caliber enough.” Beug said. Obsidian’s first two events are both $7, but also both 21 and up.

“Something we’re doing is trying to balance having a space for all-ages music, but also bar music. All-ages brings no capital; door prices pays the bands and a few of the staff, but that’s it,” Beug said. “You can see this in what’s been happening with the Northern.” The benefit of 21 and up shows is that the venue is able to profit from alcohol sales.

Though Obsidian is rooted in the classic image of Olympia underground music, Beug plans for it to sprout into something much more significant. On Monday, Nov. 3, staff opened up the previously covered windows, revealing a warm, wood-paneled interior, glowing from the pristine chandeliers.

“We’re going to be keeping the space as open as possible,” Beug said. “We’re thinking it’ll become the cultural hub, the place to go. We’ve got these big tables set up, so people can come and do homework, get coffee, and also just talk about ideas.”