by Jeff Taylor
Recall what we said way back in November 2008 on the occasion of the NC Music Factory hooking up with LiveNation to create the Charlotte Fillmore:
One hopes this competition leads to more — and more varied — live music options for Charlotte. But there is no guarantee that it will.
Now comes word that both Tremont Music Hall and the Neighborhood Theater are in dire straits and looking for new owners. The latter may close up if a buyer does not emerge soon. And judging from the scant bookings, the Visulite Theater is not in great shape either. I had one band which filled Visulite a couple years ago tell me that they could not get any kind of upfront guarantee for a return and literally could not afford to play there.
Then we have the Charlotte Fillmore itself, which kicked off with quite a bang, but now has seen bookings slow to a trickle. Only Amos’ Southend seems to be going strong among the 500-1500 capacity joints, booking multiple shows a week.
You want to say that this is a sort of natural lifespan thing, that clubs and promoters cycle in and out, and note that the commercial real estate crash has made this a great time for a shake-up, perhaps even an improvement in the spaces. But the truth is the awesome start-up costs associated with a club — the sound rig and performance space, the alcohol licensing hassles, booking bands months in advance, competent staffing — make it hard for new entrants to pop up to meet demand, let alone create it.
This is what we’ll find out in next few months: What is Charlotte’s demand for live music and does the supply remotely match it?
Bonus Reporting: I’ll be at the NT tonight for the Zappa Plays Zappa show for some first-hand reporting on the issue.