August 28th, 2013
Portland? It was amazing. The whole Pacific Northwest is so outdoorsy, but in a totally different way than Hawaii. So much plaid and beards, along with tons of carabiner keychains clipped on fitted jeans so nothing gets caught in bike spokes.
So much art — everyone is an artist or musician there — so much fantastic food, huge bike lanes and solar panels everywhere. The weather is soggy, too, so there is so much lush greenery. Evergreen trees (or “Christmas,” as Flash Hansen called them while he was there last weekend) are everywhere.
I must have happened on at least three food cart pods while exploring murals situated throughout southeast Portland.
I ate a macaroni and cheese pie with buttery, flaky crust that melted in my mouth.
I tried a fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich with bananas.
I ate poutin.
I got to see the studio of a self-proclaimed nerd who makes vintage suitcase boomboxes and sells them under the Case of Bass brand.
I got to have dinner with Chef Gregory Gourdet of sky-high trendy restaurant Departure and tons of other people who are on top of their game and appreciate a laid back, yet artsy bar you go to for amazing life experience conversations in between shots of whiskey.
That was my trip.
IT'S HARD not to compare Honolulu’s scene to other cities after traveling, and it’s a conversation I have with a lot of people. While there truly is no comparison, Honolulu is extremely unique in what works and what doesn't. And there are still a lot of us who feel like there is so much opportunity on Oahu.
While talking to Foundation's Jimmy Lee and Ramyt Islam recently about their show on Friday, Aug. 30, with Gabriel Sordo at The Republik, I discovered they shared my sentiments.
“I think we both miss the type of audience that the original NextDoor used to attract – an amalgam of people spanning all walks of life, but retaining somewhat of a refined quality,” Islam said. “It would be nice if we had a few outdoor and/or oceanfront clubs. I mean, we do live in Hawaii! Nothing touristy, just something proper.
“But beyond that, I really do feel that something is missing in our scene here. I just can’t put my finger on exactly what it is, or how one would fix that problem. I just know we're missing ‘something’ every time I come back home from visiting other cities.”
“I think the way (the old) W Honolulu used to be is what’s missing now,” added Lee. “I would say (the Modern Honolulu's) lobby bar on a Friday or Saturday is about as close as you can get to that. There’s a definite demand for more spots that combine a refined crowd and a good atmosphere.”
"Hawaii doesn’t have a large nightlife crowd like other cities do, so I think it discourages club owners and promoters from taking too many risks,” Lee continued. “Money always seems to have the last say.”
The focus on the bottom line is why mainstream music will usually prevail in Honolulu. The good news for Foundation and other promoters is there are still many who appreciate the music and show up at events. The last Foundation party proved this, and this weekend at Safehouse should be no different.
“What we love about Gabriel is that he plays just the right balance of house music that will satisfy an audience of people that prefer the more traditional sound as well as those who want to hear the more cutting edge stuff.” Islam said.
After Honolulu, Sordo will head to Playa Del Carmen, where he'll spin at a nightclub owned by Rob Garza of Thievery Corporation.
Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young's Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for POW! WOW! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular "Bacardi Pool Party" on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.