As I mentioned last week, myself and representatives of the Silver Spring Penguin and Thayeravenue.com recently met this past with Live Nation's Ted Mankin. It's been a few days and I didn't take notes, so I am relying on my hazy memories of the discussion. I'm sure the aforementioned bloggers can expand on that which I do recall. Special thanks go out to Mike D. for brokering the meeting.
We rendezvoused with Ted on Thursday night in in the dimly-lit recesses of the Quarry House Tavern's back room. Contrary to popular belief, Live Nation employees don't actually dine on the souls of local musicians. Well, unless they were ground it to Ted's hummus. We got to discussing the current state of the live music scene in Washington and how it might change with the introduction of the Fillmore Silver Spring. Ted lamented the relative dearth of music venues in the DC area, noting that in some ways, Baltimore has better options for live shows.
Far from being a LA carpetbagger, Ted hails from the DC area (Virginia, but we'll that slide) and has been booking shows in the area for some time at venues that include Constitution Hall and Nissan Pavilion. He believes that adding a new venue will grow the pie rather than just simply resulting in a bigger share of the live music business around Washington for Live Nation. The opening of the Fillmore is still a couple years away, but the folks at Live Nation already have big plans. Yeah, two years seems a long time to wait but one day you'll wake up and realize, "wow, the Fillmore is open already?" And then you'll also come to the realization that you are getting old a lot faster than you previously thought. But I digress...
Anyway, here's some of my recollections of what we discussed that evening:
- Ticket prices would probably average around $15-$25 or so. There won't be $100 Michael Bolton shows like there are at certain other venues. The tickets would be sold through Live Nations' not-yet-launched ticketing system, which will hopefully have lower fees than Ticketbastard's. ($4 to print your own ticket!)
- The Fillmore will be booked with local tastes taken into consideration; the shows in Silver Spring won't be a mirror image of the schedule in, say, Philadelphia. There will also be plenty of opportunities for local artists to take the stage. The exclusion of local artists seemed to be one of the (apparently unfounded) fears regarding the Fillmore.
- In addition to musical performances, there would likely be the occasional comedy show at the Fillmore. Unsurprisingly, Lewis Black's name came up as a potential act.
- If there's not a show on a particular evening, the place won't be open as a bar, contrary to what some local pols may have thought. (The word "saloon" was used at some point in reference to this. All I could picture were swinging doors, spurs and gunfights.)I'm sure there's a lot I didn't address, so if you'd like to learn more about the Fillmore and pose any questions directly to Live Nation, Ted will be available at a community meeting on April 8th at 7:30 in the Lee building.
- There's been discussions between Live Nation and AFI with regard to joint productions that integrate music, film, etc. An example would be screenings at AFI that would be done in conjunction with a particular artist's performance across the street. So musicians like Moby or Beck who fancy themselves multimedia artists could perform at the Fillmore while some of their other work was shown at AFI. According to Ted, the physical infrastructure that will link the two venues is already being installed.
- In speaking with bands about Live Nation's future Silver Spring venue, Seth Hurwitz of IMP has reportedly described Silver Spring's location as being "way, way, out there", or something to that effect. This just goes to show that IMP doesn't give a crap about Silver Spring, unless it can be used as a pawn to keep out the competition.
- Live Nation doesn't prevent bands from playing at venues other than their own with exclusive contracts if the artist so desires. So, theoretically an act could perform at both the Fillmore and the 9:30 club.
- Perhaps Silver Spring could host a winter jazz festival to supplement their annual summer one. Of course, with all the budget cuts these days, maybe even the existing one will get kicked to the curb.
It should be noted that Live Nation has just inked an deal with U2, setting up the inevitable exclusive club date that the band will perform on the Fillmore's opening night (no, really). The only scenario could possibly surpass this in Greatness Quotient if the original members of Guns N' Roses set aside their differences for a single night to play a one-time-only set in Silver Spring. After leaving the stage following their fifth encore, the band would pile in Slash's Mustang and cruise around until they found an adequate cliff to drive over, making the evening's performance all the more legendary and ensuring that the world will never be submitted to Chinese Democracy.
(Speaking of getting old fast and Guns N' Roses, I just realized this weekend that "Sweet Child o' Mine" was released OVER TWENTY F'N YEARS AGO.)
UPDATE: Fears of Jay-Z playing the Silver Spring Fillmore expressed in neighborhood listservs are completely unfounded, regardless of his recent deal with Live Nation. His upcoming concert this weekend is at the Verizon Center... just a tad bit bigger than the Fillmore will be. The same is true for other big Live Nation artists, including Madonna and U2 (sadly). Let's be realistic as far as what level of acts we're going to get here. Perhaps the Fillmore will be up and running in time for the New Kids' reunion concert - ladies, you know you still harbor a crush from sixth grade. (Although I don't see how you can look at Donnie Wahlberg the same way after watching him blow his brains out in Bruce Willis' bathroom.)