Monday, March 31, 2008

Live Nation: Straight From the Horse's Mouth

As I mentioned last week, myself and representatives of the Silver Spring Penguin and 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.

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- 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.)

- 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.
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.

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.

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(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.)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday News 'N Notes

Last night I, along with Eric of and Jen of The Silver Spring Penguin, met with a representative of Live Nation to discuss the status of the Silver Spring Fillmore and what they envision for the venue. Once I get a chance to put together the highlights, I'll do a post on that.

In the meantime...

- Wow, they have some real muppets working at the downtown Silver Spring Safeway, but of course you already knew that.

Thanks to tacodaemon for the photo.

- Silver Spring restaurant week is back. Yay? Like last year, I question the pricing of a $30 meal at some of these restaurants. I generally spend less than that when I go to these places the rest of the year. Did anyone who took advantage last year find it worthwhile?

- In the biggest Silver Spring TV news since a Blair graduate starred in Beauty and the Geek, Silver Spring-based realtors Pure Energy are going to be featured in their own show on A&E called Stage This House, the pilot of which will air for the first time Saturday night. Presumably the action will all take place around Silver Spring and nearby environs. You can watch a preview here. (via A Parent in Silver Spring.)

- If you're a creative person who can only be productive in a converted space stocked with modern furniture, you're in luck. Space 88 (no relation to Area 88 - unfortunately) will be opening at 8211 Mayor Lane and will offer quite a number of business services, including things I've never heard of, such as chautauquas. More information can be found here.

(Um, speaking of modern furniture, if anyone out there works for a furniture seller that happens to stock Herman Miller and can surreptitiously hook a brother up with an employee discount, let me know...)

- Based on feedback I've received through the site and elsewhere, the proposed Rock Band night will definitely be scheduled for a weekend night once it gets off the ground - which I assure you it will... eventually.

- Olazzo - the one in Silver Spring, not Bethesda - gets a review in the Post's Weekend section.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Monday News 'N Notes

Just a quick administrative note: you can now reach this site by going to

- The Silver Spring Rock Band Night that I proposed a couple weeks back remains in the planning stages, but will hopefully become a reality soon. Before you know it, we'll all be sucking down oat soda or Sioux City Sarsaparilla between plastic guitars jams. (Maybe even on Shomer Shabbos.) In the meantime, I'm trying to gauge interest, so please take a second to answer the polls I've added on the right hand side of the page.

- I hereby christen this neon installation on The Promenade "Lightsaber Battle".

Photo from Flick user edrodgers731.

- I’m uncertain if George and Weezy would ever choose to live at The Enclave, but the Post’s article this weekend on the complex includes a Jeffersons allusion, nonetheless. In all fairness, though, the author does reference their, um, mixed reviews on, as I have in the past. Recent comments left on this blog ("This place is the equivalent to the threshold of hell") about the Enclave belie the claims of the management that the improvements have increased the quality of life there. Well, I guess as long as they can keep attracting unwitting out-of-towners relocating to Silver Spring they'll do fine...

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Final Discovery Protest Post

I hadn't planned on making any more posts about the Discovery Protest, as the topic had become as stale as the Live Nation mess, but I thought I ought to pass this along.

I was wondering what had become of "Lee" following his arrest a couple weeks back, but hadn't heard any updates until today. According to Lee himself, they placed him in the "nuthouse" for four days (go figure) and then held him for two weeks then threw him in a homeless shelter. ("It was total bullshit.")

Yeah, I know it's really last second, but if you want to go see his trial - he's representing himself, mind you - you can catch it at 8:30 this morning at the the courthouse in downtown Silver Spring.

Unless Lee accosts Ike Leggett between his office and the bathroom, I promise this will be last post on this topic.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday News 'N Notes

- The Washington City Paper's Crafty Bastards craft fair, usually held once a year in Adams Morgan, is expanding to Silver Spring. The Silver Spring event will be held at Pyramid Atlantic on June 28th. (Note that I hesitated before linking to an article that included the phrase "get your craft on"...)

- Carolina Kitchen getting burned out of that building on Colesville Road (which is finally getting renovated FIVE YEARS LATER) appears to have been good for them in the long term. They are planning on opening three new stores in the area. A return to Silver Spring doesn't appear to be in their immediate plans, however.

- Saw this really old stereoview photo of Silver Spring for sale on eBay but couldn't figure out where it was taken:

Any ideas? The only thing I could think of is the stretch of 29 between Four Corners and the NW Branch bridge, based on the hills. Of course, it could be any number of places.

- This is a good idea. They need the same kind of campaign in Silver Spring focused on the stretch of Colesville from East-West Highway to Spring St.

- Flickr user Scaramouche has some photos of the house in Silver Spring shingled with aluminum cans that I've mentioned before.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

For Those About to Pretend to Rock We Salute You

A few weeks back, Eric of and I came to the conclusion that some bar or restaurant in Silver Spring really ought to begin hosting a weekly Rock Band night. These - and their Guitar Hero equivalent - have already started popping up around the region, although not in MoCo as far as I know.

If you’re not familiar with Rock Band, it’s an extremely entertaining video game that allows you to pretend you possess musical talent, when all you may really have is hand-eye coordination… or not. The "instrument" controllers you use with the game resemble their real-life counterparts, but don't really make much of a sound on their own. You can also choose to sing. That part of the game is like Karaoke, only with your performance being judged by a machine. If you are familiar with Guitar Hero, Rock Band is very similar to that game, only with the addition of vocals and drums. Pretty much anyone can pick it up on the easy level after a few tries, and if you practice enough, you can get as good as this guy. Ok, not really.

Anyway, it’s fun to play at any skill level (as well as amusing to watch) and I think it would be a great draw for slow nights during the week. You could pair it with drink and food specials and attract people who might otherwise be home watching syndicated Law & Order episodes. You could even arrange competitions and tournaments. Since no place else in Silver Spring (or Bethesda, Wheaton, etc.) provides anything like this, you’d be able to offer something unique and attract new customers from around the area.

In order to host a proper Rock Band Night, however, you will need the following:

1. An Xbox 360 or Sony PlayStation 3 and the Rock Band Special Edition. Sorry, a PS2 is not adequate - current gen systems only.

2. A suitable widescreen high def TV- if it’s too small or too far away, it might be too difficult to see the “notes”. Optimally, the setup would have a HD home theater projector.

3. A second guitar controller, preferably wireless.

4. A decent sound system.

(For massive bonus points you could eventually add the as-yet-unreleased Rock Band Stage Kit, which adds a synchronized smoke and light show. This would not be a prerequisite, of course.)

Any restaurant or bar which agrees to do this will get plenty of free promotion on at least this blog and We can talk to other Silver Spring bloggers and perhaps make it a cross-Silver Spring blog promoted event. (If I recall correctly, Dan of Just Up the Pike plays Rock Band.)

So, if you’re a restaurant/bar manager interested in hosting a Rock Band night, please let me know. Anyone else who thinks this is a good idea (and would attend) leave a comment and back me up!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Lee's Got a handful of Stacks, Better Grab an Umbrella

I don't know if overall it's a good thing that we live in a world where nearly everyone packs a phone with a built-in video camera, but sometimes it leads to fantastic videos like the one you are about to see. Here we have what I can only presume is our boy Lee making it rain on Ellsworth. After seeing the bedlam he caused, it's no wonder they arrested him.

My favorite parts are the piles of people on the street at 0:55 and the guy who is standing there flipping the bill over to make sure it's real at the 1:32 mark.

Special thanks to the Silver Spring Penguin for coming across this on You Tube and bringing it to our attention.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

So Much for NPR...

As far as Montgomery County is concerned, NPR may as well stand for Not Providing Revenue, because it's not going to be moving to Silver Spring as some had hoped (and others opposed). Instead, NPR will remain in the District, moving their offices to an imaginary neighborhood called "NoMa", which, from what I understand is bounded by Smurf Village and Diagon Alley. Oh, well.

From the City Paper:

CEO Ken Stern says, “A major factor in our decision was the opportunity to play a role in the revitalization of NoMa, much as we did 16 years ago as a pioneer in the Penn Quarter renaissance.”
OF course, they didn't actually move to "Penn Quarter" (also an imaginary place), because it wasn't branded that by Condo marketers until relatively recently.

More from the Examiner.

...and more from the Post:
Arthur Greenberg, an executive of Studley, the real estate firm that brokered the deal, said NPR looked at more than 100 sites. Montgomery County officials presented a package that "caused us to take a second look" at a location near the Silver Spring Metro station, he said.

County officials spent months trying to lure the company, crafting scenarios including one that would have provided about $32 million in permanent property tax breaks because NPR is a nonprofit with an educational mission. The county also offered to build a parking lot for the company that would have been worth about $18 million, said Diane Schwartz Jones, a top aide to County Executive Isiah Leggett (D).

Another parking lot? Where exactly? It's not like it would be "near the Silver Spring Metro station" or anything, so I can see why they would need a whole new new lot...