Venue notes: Gorilla Gardens/Omni Room, Seattle WA

Gorilla Gardens and the Omni Room were separate performance spaces in a venue called the Rock Theater, a former Chinese theater located at 410 5th Avenue S (5th & Jackson), in Seattle's Chinatown. The venue was owned by Tony Chu, who had also owned its predecessor, the Gorilla Room (with which Gorilla Gardens should not be confused).

Kevin Bean, who worked security for many Seattle punk shows from 1983-1992, writes in 2020: "The Rock Theater consisted of a lobby, restrooms, and two theaters with raised stages—the Omni Room was to the left of the lobby (north) and hosted Punk bands. The Gorilla Gardens (the larger theatre) was to the right (south) and hosted Heavy Metal, and other bands."

Jonathan Poneman wrote in Spin (Sep 92) that in 1985, "Most of the early bands who would later be associated with the embryonic 'Seattle sound' were still playing at Gorilla Gardens, an unsavory all-ages club." Soundgarden's second-ever show was at the Gorilla Gardens, opening for the Melvins and Hüsker Dü.

Writing in Jan 2004, Douglas Mays, whose early Seattle punk band X-15 had been fixtures at the old Gorilla Room, recalls how he got the job as Gorilla Gardens' first booker: "The owner [of the original Gorilla Room, Tony Chu] got more cash together and [leased] this warehouse/Chinese movie theater at 5th and Jackson, which is basically the DMZ between Chinatown and Pioneer Square. When I caught wind of the owner's plans I proposed that I run the show. He gave me the job, thanx to the fact that the band I managed and shows I promoted at the original Gorilla Room kept him alive."

According to this Seattle Star retrospective, the owner moved the venue to 307 Nickerson St after less than a year in the Chinatown location. If the timeline of events in the article is correct, and the info in this flyer (which shows that Hüsker Dü played at the old location on 26 Oct 1985) is accurate, then the club could only have survived for a few weeks in its new home before being shut down for good in the aftermath of a riot that resulted from the 26 Nov 1985 raid of a Circle Jerks show for fire code violations.

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