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Wasted No More 

International Bar and Lounge aims for the unique vibe of a "bar with music."

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ERIN MOORE
  • Erin Moore

If you know downtown Salt Lake City on a weekend, you know the textures of lively State Street, and you've probably walked past one particularly fluorescent-lit bar buzzing with rowdy patrons once or twice before. But those lights are gone from 342 S. State Street, and in its place is a darker window that beckons, with a new sign on the window: International.

So what's the scoop on this intriguing new bar buy-out, and what can we expect from the International Bar and Lounge? City Weekly slid into a booth on a lax Saturday night at the bar to find out.

The first thing you notice about the bar when you enter is the sheer space of it—a long rectangle with high ceilings, stretching out long and only interrupted by the presence of a low stage on the north wall. While the new owner, Nate Silverstein Tree, has in the last month set to work on his vision for the bar, it was the stage that he didn't know quite what to do with—but he had someone in mind who did.

Silverstein Tree used to manage the Twilite Lounge, and it was there that he and local musician David Payne worked together to make a neighborhood dive bar into an unlikely home for off-the-beaten-path music. "I worked hard there for 10 years to build a community," Silverstein Tree says, "and we worked with artists, musicians, bartenders and service industry folks to create a community for anyone who wants to enter and can hold their liquor."

And despite the fact that, for many that bar has become a go-to space for quiet, weird and interesting music, neither Payne nor Silverstein Tree ever saw it as a real music bar, because they had to work around the "sensitive" environment of respecting the bar regulars while sneaking lounge-level music into the back part of the bar a few times a week.

At the International, though, things will be different. "I just thought it was a great location, kind of the crossroads of Downtown Salt Lake, a great place to have a bar," explains Silverstein Tree. "When I decided I was going to take it over, [I thought ], 'How do I work with the stage?' So I called the number one person in Salt Lake to call when you're looking to talk about music—I called Dave."

Payne's immediate recommendation? "Well, we can get a little louder." And while they're still easing Wasted Space regulars into the new music they're playing at ex-Wasted Space, louder they've gotten.

Payne also saw it as an opportunity to create more paid opportunities for bands, and to provide a "formalized setting" with a stage, nightly band reveal and an emcee—currently himself as DJ Daioujou and DJ Falchion B, who also play their own "cutting edge" music as The Demons. They've also got some of Payne's self-built and designed arcade games posted up in the bar. Still, even with a prospective curtain, they don't want to be a venue—just a bar with music.

For Payne, that's the sweet spot. "One end of the spectrum is a bar that can't have music, which is the Twilite Lounge—we do special music there—and then the other side is a concert hall and both of those are dead ends. There's a synergistic spot in the middle where the bar and the music can benefit from each other. And it's not rocket science, but it almost never happens in my experience," he says. And he's right. While some other live music bars like Aces High Saloon and The DLC have cropped up over the last two years or so, Payne notes that there's been something like a 15-year dearth of regularly-paying downtown bars for artists to perform at.

"There's, you know, a huge benefit to the city and the music scene with all these venues or bars with music popping up and having a place for this to foster a scene—that's only gonna make our scene better and bigger than it is," Silverstein Tree says. But it won't stop at local—touring acts are already getting booked. "You can only hope that when you put music and a bar together that you could somehow create that scene, that ends up on the epic proportions of bars and music venues that fostered a generation of musicians that changed music. We can set our sights up there, hoping to do it."

So far, the regular schedule consists of The Demons playing and hosting a guest band each Saturday, and Adam Michael Terry's Quiet Pillage playing each Thursday. On Sunday, Feb. 6, the bar will host a screening of the LA-based dark wave duo Boy Harsher's newly-released film The Runner, and on Friday, Feb. 11, a dark, danceable electronic set from the touring band Spike Hellis.

"I get to work with my artist friends—painters, musicians, all across the board—and we get to create this place for ourselves," Silverstein Tree says. "We start right now in this kind of a black void, in what was called the Wasted Space, and we get to create a place that is, in my mind, international: something that's open for all, something that's enjoyed by all."

Follow the International Bar and its International Artist Lounge at @internationalartistlounge on Instagram, and visit internationalbarslc.com for a forthcoming calendar.

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About The Author

Erin Moore

Erin Moore

Bio:
Erin Moore is City Weekly's music editor. Email tips to: music@cityweekly.net.

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