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somewhere, bill graham is rolling in his grave

Posted on 29 March 2007 by Caryn Rose (0)

brooklynvegan: The Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza

Upon entering the venue, there will be fresh apples for hungry live music aficionados and a greeter to let them know about upcoming shows. The walls will be painted a deep red hue and the refurbished chandeliers will shine light on vintage posters, pictures and newspaper articles recounting legendary live music performances. After the show, a collectible poster commemorating the evening will be distributed to concert goers, a tradition that will continue for select shows throughout the year.

Yeah, there’s a place that does that already – it’s called THE FILLMORE in SAN FRANCISCO. The *real* one.


Like a commenter said elsewhere, it doesn’t matter. It’ll always be Irving Plaza, just like Webster Hall is still the Ritz, the PNC Bank Arts Center is the Garden State Arts Center, and Tweeter Center is Great Woods. ‘

But it’s not about the name. Transferring the name of the Fillmore to Irving Plaza doesn’t suddenly invest Irving with the history and the gravitas, if you will, that the Fillmore had. It doesn’t suddenly put the reincarnation of Bill Graham on earth running the show with an eye towards being kind and fair (or unfair, depending on how you look at it) to fans and bands.

As a society we’re desperate for authenticity, so we try to buy it. It’s stupid in this case because Irving Plaza has enough of its own history. There were great shows there in the 80s, legendary lineups. I saw Johnny Thunders there – I have a poster in my office right now of a legendary Thunders show at IP. In the 80s there was the new guard, with the Replacements and Husker Du and so many nights spent at 15th & Irving that it’s a blur. There is history there. It’s a great room that I have nothing but fond memories of.

It doesn’t need to play “Greensleeves” at the end of shows (and for the love of god please at least play the authentic version and not Sheryl fucking Crow) or have a tub of apples in the front lobby for Irving Plaza to be a worthwhile venue. It already is. These gestures won’t mean a damn thing, because the Fillmore wasn’t about empty gestures, it was what the gestures stood for. “Greensleeves” was a much more civilized way to signify to concertgoers that the show was over and it was time to leave than to have enormous obnoxious bouncers screaming “WE’RE CLOSED… MOVE DOWNSTAIRS” “GET OUT OF HERE, TIME TO LEAVE”. The apples were a welcoming gesture, and that will mean nothing if the security and staff continue to treat patrons like we just got off the bus from Rikers. (And to be fair, I have generally been treated well at Irving. Generally. It was never the Ritz.)

Will the legendary Bill Graham concern for sound and atmosphere and overall experience suddenly be implanted upon Irving Plaza (or the TLA in Philly, which will get the same bogus treatment)? A free poster at the end of the night doesn’t suddenly change everything.

On the subject of posters, the poster geek in me wonders if these will be BGP edition posters, numbered and all, and/or what this does to the legendary BGP imprimateur of the poster world? BGP posters used to be a sound investment, which is fine when they were limited to a select number of venues. It’ll be interesting to see what happens on that front.

I don’t know if it’s worse for this to be happening to a venue that does have history. I’m surprised, frankly, that Live Nation isn’t trying to foist this upon a new venue. These trappings would just be a joke.

Finally, 99% of the people going to these venues won’t know the history of things like the apples, the posters and “Greensleeves”, so why not just choose new traditions that make sense? I don’t know what I’d substitute instead but differentiate yourselves with customer service that’s actually serving the customer, not just a hollow duplication of something someone else thought of.

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