Fillmore Silver Spring: The End of the World as We Know It? Why the new LiveNation venue may not doom the 9:30 Club, the Black Cat, or other D.C. nightclubs

Page 4 of 4

The addition of the Fillmore to the D.C. club scene could have a perverse effect on prices. “Counterintuitively, competition can lead to higher prices for the end users,” Bongiovanni says. It’s easy to scapegoat Ticketmaster or club owners for high-priced tickets, but the artists are really the ones with the leverage. They demand guarantees before promoters get paid. Since it’s harder for a musician to make a living from records and royalties in the age of digital music, more artists are demanding a bigger slice of the ticket money. It’s a tough calculation to make as an artist: Price tickets too high, and you’re playing to an empty house; too low, and you may have left money on the table during your 15 minutes of fame. If you have confidence and patience—say you’re an act like Mumford & Sons—you give your fans a break so you can attract repeat business show after show. If you’re a washed-up boomer act or a pop sensation, you grab the market by the neck and wring it for every last penny because you don’t know if this tour paycheck will be your last. Regardless, the rivalry among clubs for good acts could drive up prices. “More competition can easily turn a $15 show into a $20 show,” Ferrando says.

That calculus works differently in every city. In D.C., 9:30 Club has a reputation for not overpaying acts. “Seth Hurwitz knows how to say ‘no,’” Bongiovanni says. For its part, Live Nation wants to avoid cutting prices on its best seats. “The focus this year was to price the house right from the beginning, to drive higher revenue from the front and lower prices in the back to stimulate purchase. The key strategy to achieve this, No. 1, was no mass discounting,” Chief Executive Michael Rapino told analysts on a second-quarter conference call.

While Live Nation can use its industry muscle to bring big acts to its amphitheaters and stadiums, that kind of influence matters less on the club circuit, where it’s more about relationships. “The fact that Live Nation owns the club is irrelevant,” says Bob Lefsetz, author of The Lefsetz Letter email newsletter and a music industry gadfly. “If you have a hot act, people will see it in a barn.”

Live Nation is quick to emphasize how the Fillmore will develop local talent. Arich Berghammer, Live Nation’s executive vice president of clubs and theaters, tells me he’s open to having Ethiopian music at the Fillmore after discussing the lack of such shows with his cab driver during a recent trip to Silver Spring. Berghammer notes that Stephanie Steele, the Fillmore’s general manager, and Justin Kujawa, a Live Nation senior promoter, live in the neighborhood and will be responsive to the community’s tastes. Kujawa says the Fillmore is working with entertainment website and event planner Brightest Young Things to develop nights for local bands. “We want to do things in every genre,” Kujawa says. “We are trying to make everyone happy.”

The broad approach of the Fillmore may compete with I.M.P. bookings at D.A.R. Constitution Hall as well as 9:30 Club. Black Cat’s Ferrando says that Live Nation may take some acts that would play at 9:30 Club, which would then force 9:30 to compete with his club; he may end up booking an act that would otherwise play at Rock & Roll Hotel or Iota in Arlington, Va. “It could have a domino effect on bookings at all the other clubs,” he says. Hood Productions’ Lambert expects to feel a “pinch” from the Fillmore for the first six months, but says, “we’ll be fine.”

advertisement

Staring out from the stage into the empty space of unfinished Fillmore, I imagine the screaming crowds. I try to picture the place packed to the rafters and how close fans on the balcony would be to the stage. What it would feel like taking the elevator from the spacious downstairs dressing rooms to the main stage. How fun it would be hanging out in the VIP lounge with its wavy mirrored accent wall. The outside of the club looks sharp at night, with the Fillmore marquee underlined by a red neon slash. A Lee Development official tells me they’ve set up lights in the three vertical vents on the right side of the hall’s façade to simulate an equalizer when the music is playing inside. It all sounds very cool.

But walk across Colesville Road, and you’re still in downtown Silver Spring. The nearby shopping center is a menagerie of chain restaurants from the sublime—Nando’s—to the pedestrian—Red Lobster—with 8,000 free parking spaces in the surrounding area. Surely Fillmore patrons and some acts will flock to these places after events, but it’s difficult to see them coming for the vibe. It’s a county, after all, that recently proposed a curfew for teens.

Will the location’s ambient tameness hurt a gorgeous theater that will still do great business with date-nighting parents or diehard fans shelling out big dollars for well-known acts? Probably not. But it also means there will always be a market for music on U or H streets, no matter who controls the spaces along those corridors. In the end, the Fillmore, which will surely please lots of concert-goers, may even end up pleasing D.C. club owners, too.

Our Readers Say

"It’s a county, after all, that recently proposed a curfew for teens."

Ok, but this is only a proposal, while the District - home to the 9:30 Club and the Black Cat - already HAS a curfew for teens.
This article is a joke.
"But walk across Colesville Road, and you’re still in downtown Silver Spring. The nearby shopping center is a menagerie of chain restaurants from the sublime—Nando’s—to the pedestrian—Red Lobster—with 8,000 free parking spaces in the surrounding area."

Hello, Colesville has exactly ZERO chain restaurants (besides a great, local one in Ray's) while you have a bunch of locally owned restaurants in Abol, Kao Thai, Sabroso, Da Marcos, Sergios, etc. along with unique gems in Round House Theater, AFI, etc. You cherry pick crap like a Red Lobster on Ga. Ave. just so you can try and fit downtown Silver Spring into some anywhere-usa mold to bash. If you spent any time in the area you'd know it's far more diverse and urban than just about anywhere in the region.

>>> “The focus this year was to price the house right from the beginning, to drive higher revenue from the front and lower prices in the back to stimulate purchase. The key strategy to achieve this, No. 1, was no mass discounting,”

Isn't that neat. By gosh, the next time I buy one of the lower prices in the back I am going to see if I can't stimulate some purchasing in the front. Not just for me, but for the high revenue folks, too.

I frankly just don't feel like we're making enough effort to contribute to their $5bn revenue.
Makes sense to me. If you are the kind of person who thinks Livenation and Ticketmaster are rock and roll, you are probably the kind of person who thinks Silver Spring is cool. Perfect match.
I only have to look at how Live Nation runs the Jiffy Lube Live Pavillion (formerly Nissan Pavillion) and compare that to how IMP runs Merriweather in MD. The experiences are a contrast of get everyone inside quick so we can suck the money out of them by Live Nation, to one that is about hearing the music and enjoying the experience.

Live Nation, is a tiny spin-off of a much larger and even more sinister entity Clear Channel, whose business practices are to crush the competition and offer a neutered experience driven by the highest priced advertiser. Silver Spring should be ashamed of what they gave to bring this type of category killer to the area. Truly ashamed.
SMP, are you serious? Live Nation is akin to Halliburton or something? Live Nation venues sell 50 million tickets a year - all those people, not to mention all the big musicians, should be ashamed? Psycho much? P.S. Nissan sucks because of the logistics of the site, which is why it sucks compared to Merriweather (in my mind). How does that have anything to do with Live Nation?
@anon
Yeah, how dare he "cherry pick" the shopping center literally across the street. You have to turn a corner to get in there so it shouldn't count as being in the area. And the entrance to the Panera Bread next to AFI definitely isn't on Colesville Road, the door is slightly angled to the parking lot. And we should definitely all ignore the collection of fast food restaurants on Colesville just a block away, that would put Silver Spring into some type of anywhere-USA mold.

Aside from the selection of stores in the actual mall across the street from the Fillmore, Silver Spring is just like any suburban mall in the country.
9:30 and the Black Cat will always have an advantage over Live Nation's Fillmore for one reason: They book cutting-edge acts. Look at the OVERPRICED washed-up has-beens Live Nation is trotting out: Mary J. Blige, John Legend, Bush (are you fucking kidding? Bush?), Cheap Trick (ha!) Et al. Live Nation is clearly aiming for the suburban housewife and husband who is afraid/too tired to go into the scary District for shows.
"Live Nation is quick to emphasize how the Fillmore will develop local talent. Arich Berghammer, Live Nation’s executive vice president of clubs and theaters, tells me he’s open to having Ethiopian music at the Fillmore after discussing the lack of such shows with his cab driver during a recent trip to Silver Spring."

This one will keep me laughing for a while.
Yes, you don't have to look far to find non-chain restaurants in Silver Spring. This isn't Rockville. To name just the chains at the redevelopment hub is a pretty lazy description of the area. But I think that the Fillmore, if it's successful, does portend higher rents and more chains coming to downtown Silver Spring.
Anyone who thinks Silver Spring has more chains than locally owned businesses has never been here. There are few places in the WORLD that are more diverse than Silver Spring. This isn't some Target-filled Columbia Heights or chain-filled Penn Quarter - Silver Spring has, what, a 100 local restaurants that represent dozens of cultures. No one can legitimately say that Red Lobster represents Silver Spring.
"And we should definitely all ignore the collection of fast food restaurants on Colesville just a block away, that would put Silver Spring into some type of anywhere-USA mold. "

Oh, wait there are a few chain restaurants in Silver Spring? That would put them into some type of anywhere-in-the-world mold. Even Paris has plenty of McDonald's, KFCs and Pizza Huts.
Give me a break.

I live in DTSS and the critics are right. I keep seeing people defend this area's nightlife and food life and it's sad. Delusional bunch of yuppies.

The culture of DTSS needs serious work. And yes everything DOES close early- curfew or not. So if you go to a show in Fillmore weekday or weekend you come out and find- nothing. No bars or intresting clubs or nightlife within walking distance still open or not occupied by thugs and hoodlums or old retirees.

Hello, how's it going? Just shared this post with a colleague, we had a good laugh. scrapebox http://scrapebox.overblog.com/
More and more companies are springing up all the time and not all of them operate within a high set of ethical standards..
Hi! Do you use Twitter? I'd like to follow you if that would be ok. I'm definitely enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts.
<a href="http://jewelery.cisspworld.com/ring-xixia" >ハッピーリング</a>
[url=http://jewelery.cisspworld.com/ring-xixia]ハッピーリング[/url]
A person are not aware of.
[url=http://www.acieo.fr]casque beats pas cher[/url]

Leave a Comment

Note: HTML tags are not allowed in comments.
Comments Shown. Turn Comments Off.
...