Would you leave your home and family behind to head to another country and ensure constantly great parties for the people of a foreign city? If not, you may want to say an extra “thank you” to Pat Maher, the man largely responsible for Foundation’s recent remodel and relaunch.
The 40 year-old Irishman has a friendly brogue and is emphatically enthusiastic about the Seattle nightlife scene. “I’ll be honest, the atmosphere at Foundation now is something even more special than what I’ve seen around the world. Everybody is a team, and it’s electric. The production and the sound are second to none,” he notes.
“I’ll be honest” turns out to be Pat’s way of really driving a point home, and the point about his global perspective deserves the overstatement. This consultancy in Seattle marks the 6th time Pat has left his home country to lend his unique perspective to top nightclubs in England, Spain, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Doha, and now the Pacific Northwest.
“I’m really adamant that this is my one chance opportunity to do something really special over here. I know that I can make this happen with USC, Foundation, Chad, and Ian behind me.”
Pat seems especially excited about this new chapter in America. After being involved in nightlife since age 16, Pat speaks with the confidence of someone who has worked his way up from the bottom: “I got a job in a local Irish nightclub collecting glasses and doing maintenance.” This hands-on attitude drives his leadership perspective, having managed numerous nightclubs throughout his career. “The GM has to be the heartbeat of the venue, get his hands dirty, stand at the door and take tickets.”As his career grew, Pat soon began promoting for storied brands like Ministry of Sound, Cream, Warehouse Project, and Fabric. Working at Irish nightclubs Voodoo and Pulse as a consultant, it wasn’t long before venues realized his full potential and asked him to stay on as permanent management: “I’d come on as a consultant, and then owners would ask me to stay on for a while.”
“I paid $1,000 euro for each of them. The only way I was able to get our headliner was to book these two Swedish guys.”
Being one of the first major players in the Irish nightlife scene affords some fantastic opportunities, such as booking Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso for $1,000 apiece before Swedish House Mafia took off. Stories like these demonstrate the kind of forethought that goes into running a nightclub, and the possibilities it could bring for Foundation and Seattle.
Those possibilities don’t come without a cost. In order to bring his trademark style and insight to Foundation, Pat has had to leave his family behind once again. Asked about the toll it takes, “To be honest it has been hard, I have a relatively young family also – 11, 9, and 18 months so it’s not easy. I have a very understanding wife, that has supported my dreams and goals. My next move will be a permanent one, I cannot be apart from my family any longer.”
Hopefully that move will be here to Seattle as a permanent fixture at Foundation. Pat speaks highly of his family, mentioning how he more than once hung his hat to be at home with them. The call of the industry always pulled him back, generally without request. Even USC contacted Pat via Linkedin, the latest in a long line of random opportunities that would take Pat across the world.
Those opportunities come at a time when EDM and club culture is sweeping the U.S., growing bigger and bigger by the second. Pat doesn’t believe in “Peak EDM” or “Peak Bottle Culture,” instead suggesting that this is just the way nightlife will always be. “You have to be realistic,” he cautions, noting that “these clubs won’t last forever. Something bigger and better is going to come along. Like Celine Dion and Britney Spears. It’s up to me as a GM to keep the product up.”
“I don’t think it’s that the whole electronic dance thing is gone, I think it’s that nature is taking its course.”
Typically a given nightclub has a 3-5 year lifespan. After that the scene has changed enough that they close, re-brand, renovate, and re-open. “At the end of the day we want to be the best we can be for Seattle.” Pat was instrumental in Foundation’s recent overhaul, and he believes that following the Las Vegas model is the most effective way to be the best.
“The Vegas model is the best that we can do, they represent the best nightlife has to offer. We have to keep the standards up. If you stop putting good acts up, if you stop putting in money, it falls apart,” and that’s something every city needs to observe. It’s an EDM arms race that is constantly raging, one clubs are less capable of competing in without the new eyes of an outsider to keep them fresh.
A certified teacher, Pat is well-positioned to teach the entire Seattle industry a thing or two. It’s been his M.O. from the first days in Ireland: “I decided I wanted to be as transparent and honest as possible. I decided to draw up a game plan for myself and all the venues I could possibly get involved with where I could get involved into the business of venues.”
At the end of the day, what’s most important is that our EDM scene never becomes more about money than it is about the love of the music. In an industry frought with over-hyping, overbooking, and over-rating, Pat represents a breath of genuine fresh air.
Foundation and USC have been so welcoming and supportive of me. It’s a real family feeling which really has a positive impact on the business. I have been all over the world, and seen some truly great party atmospheres but – and I say this from the bottom of my heart – the people of the Northwest truly know how to party.”
Bringing that attitude into the scene and allowing Ian, Chad, and the venerable Foundation crew to explore new avenues to expand and grow will hopefully mean exciting times ahead for the Seattle scene. Pat is enthusiastic, experienced, and seems ready for the challenge. As he promises, “as long as you want to party, we will put a proper party on.”
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