I'm bummed I missed the Fillmore's open house on Monday, but having an infant at home makes attending such weekday evening events somewhat more challenging than it used to be. Fortunately, there has been plenty of coverage of the new venue by publications like the Post and Washingtonian.
|Photo via Washingtonian's Fillmore Slideshow|
(An aside: in retrospect I was a total whore for Live Nation when they used me to drum up community support for their proposal, yet now that they are up and running I don't hear a peep from them. No invites to events, comp tickets, nothing.)
During the event, Black had this to say about Silver Spring:
"I was born and raised around here. This, where we are — this whole area was a shithole. You have to realize that 40 years ago there was nothing out there. So to return here now, and to see what they've done with this area, fucked me all. I don't think the children should have any of the advantages that I was deprived of."I fully agree with the last statement. Kids should have to take the bus to Wheaton to see movies. Uphill both ways.
Anyway, on the eve of the Fillmore's first show and in light of all the constant back and forth in the comments on this blog and elsewhere about the relative merits of the Fillmore vs. a hypothetical IMP-run venue in Silver Spring, I decided it might be worthwhile to compile some actual data to compare the Fillmore with IMP's existing venue, the 9:30 Club.
My methodology, far from scientific, was to create a simple comparision of the respective venues' acts by analyzing the following:
- All remaining acts scheduled for September and October at each venue
- Each performer's primary musical genre (from Wikipedia)
- Performer's active date - what year they started (Wikipedia)
- For performances where multiple acts were billed equally ("Act 1 and Act 2"), I factored in each performer's active date separately, while maintaining a single entry under ticket price
- Did not consider opening acts. ("with")
- Factored in only lowest face value ticket price for each show, disregarding any additional fees.*
So without further ado, here are a few facts and figures for acts booked at the two music venues:
Average Ticket Price
Fillmore Silver Spring: $35.38
9:30 Club: $24.35
Median Ticket Price
Fillmore Silver Spring: $30.00
9:30 Club: $20.00
Clearly, tickets at the Fillmore are pricier on the whole, a fact which has already been noted ad infinitum. Of course, it could be that The Fillmore books more established acts who can command a higher appearance fee and must pass that down through the ticket prices, though I don't have any hard data to determine that either way. The Fillmore also has a greater capacity than does the 9:30, so a band's performing at the former could be an indication of greater demand.
Max Ticket Price
Fillmore Silver Spring: $89.50 (Mary J. Blige)
9:30 Club: $55.00 (Smashing Pumpkins**)
Mary J. Blige might be the biggest act performing at either venue during this period, so unsurprisingly her performance commands the highest price. As I believe hers is a special appearance scheduled expressly for the grand opening of the new venue, this high ticket price will likely remain an outlier.
Average Artist Active Date
Fillmore Silver Spring: 1990
9:30 Club: 1997
Median Artist Active Date
Fillmore Silver Spring: 1995
9:30 Club: 1999
I wanted to come up with some sort of metric, however imperfect, to address the complaint that the Fillmore caters to The Olds with a lineup of "nostalgia acts". Their slate of New Wave and classic rockers does lend some credence to those charges, but to be fair the 9:30 club does have Cindi Lauper and Loretta Lynn on the slate for October (not that there's anything wrong with that). It may not be the best metric to measure relevance, but I averaged the "active date" (the date they started performing) for all scheduled acts in order to have some comparison of the recency of the venues' respective performers. Obviously, this doesn't fully represent a performer's relevancy, but its the best I could do in a short timeframe.
With an average active date seven years later than that of the Fillmore, the 9:30 club does book a lot more recent acts, many of whom have only been around for a few years. While some of these lesser-known - and perhaps cheaper to book - acts may someday blossom into superstardom, many more will ultimately fade into obscurity. They'd probably be delighted if in 25 years people still want to pay to see them. Meanwhile, it would appear the Fillmore goes the safe route in booking the more established acts.
The following charts illustrate the mix of genres of performers on the schedule through the end of October. Clearly, the 9:30 club skews more toward the indie and alternative acts, and has a fair number of bands whose music falls under the "folk" umbrella. The Fillmore, meanwhile, has a greater percentage of conventional rock and "New Wave" bands as well as a number of Hip Hop and R&B acts. Of course, this is based on less than two months of shows, so take from it what you will.
One thing I would have liked to have factored in is some measure of a performer's popularity (album sales, etc.) that might justify a higher ticket price. A band might have indie cred, but there may be a reason they can only command $20 per ticket. It's not that they are simply trying to keep ticket prices low out of the goodness of their hearts. I'd also like to have included information on Birchmere acts as a comparison. But really, I don't care quite that much.
What it really comes down to is that if you think an IMP-run club would have been superior to what we got with the Fillmore or vice versa, you do so based on your own personal musical tastes. I do think we can all (ok, not all) agree that The Fillmore certainly beats out a long-abandoned department store.
* Of course, Live Nation/Ticketbastard is notorious for fees.
** Meaning Billy Corgan and some other people you haven't heard of. What's the difference between this band and Zwan? I guess it's that play old Smashing Pumpkins songs. Speaking of Smashing Pumpkins, I think they gave me permanent hearing damage in 1998 so I should really consider suing them.