Step into Liquid - Experience Music Project lounge is music fan's paradise

You never know what you're going to find at the Experience Music Project.

Then again, maybe you do.

The EMP at the Seattle Center has just about everything any music fan could want or need. Downstairs, ground level: the EMP store, selling all things rock, roll and rap lasered onto everything from coffee mugs to ballpoint pens that wrap around your wrist. Included in the bevy of music memorabilia are posters, CDs and t-shirts suited to every fan taste imaginable.

On the same floor, you can relax in the Turntable restaurant and enjoy a meal after all the shopping, browsing and gawking.

Up a long flight of stairs and you enter the heart and soul of owner Paul Allen's rock-and-roll brainchild: the EMP museum. Packed with enough bits and pieces of music history to set even the most jaded fan on the edge of his seat, the museum boasts such relics as four original Kiss costumes, several of Jimi Hendrix's guitars and reams of original, handwritten lyrics from musicians across the musical board-heady stuff indeed.

But for all its priceless possessions - and they are abundant - the museum is, in the end, a museum. Boiled down, it's primary function is to remind us of where music has been.

For those more interested in where music is going, the EMP has just the thing to satisfy.

Second floor, tucked into the corner like a well-kept secret, is the Liquid Lounge, a full service bar and eatery hosting live music seven nights a week. Perched on a balcony overlooking the main lobby and music store, the bar attracts an array of customers from 40-something business types to 21-year-old club kids looking for a loud band. Despite the auspicious surroundings, the Liquid Lounge, with a spacious 120-person capacity, manages to evince an intimate atmosphere, and is an ideal setting to preview some of the newest bands and beats from not only the greater Seattle area but around the country. Unlike many shows in various venues, patrons pay no cover charge to get in on any of the seven days of the week the lounge is open.

For dedicated music fans, maybe the most appealing feature of the bar/restaurant is the variety of genres that are booked to play the facility. Depending on the day of the week, customers have the chance to sit back with a cold beverage and a bite to eat while sampling tunes ranging from Latin and electronica to rockabilly, techno or traditional rock 'n' roll.

Sundays, patrons have the chance - should they possess the requisite courage - to step up in front of the crowd themselves for open mic night. And every Sunday afternoon, the Lounge invites a nationally-known local singer/songwriter to play acoustic guitar for the audience between the hours of 2 and 4 p.m.

With all the live entertainment going on, it's a simple matter to forget about the 140,000-square-foot monument to the past in back of you.

While the EMP has other performance stages to choose from - perhaps most notably the cavernous Sky Church sporting a monolithic floor-to-ceiling LCD screen - any fan of music would be well advised to visit the Liquid Lounge on any given night of the week, if for nothing else than the chance to expand his or her musical horizons while at the same time bearing down on a reasonably-priced hamburger with fries.

Who knows, you might even catch a free show from the next Pearl Jam.[[In-content Ad]]