May 14, 2010

Paradise gets a makeover -- a plea

Shelby Lynne at the Paradise in 2005.

It was recently reported that the Paradise Rock Club in Boston is on the verge of renovation (story HERE). This scares me to death.

The Paradise has a storied past. Bands like the Police, U2 and REM played there when they were starting out. It is the perfect spot to see Kathleen Edwards, Shelby Lynne and the Low Anthem, who I recently caught there. Its stage can handle punk, bluegrass and everything in between. It is a place to get up close to whichever act graces the stage.

For anyone who has seen shows at the Paradise, you know what you're getting when you step through the door. First, the ticket prices are relatively cheap for the mid-level and up-and-coming acts that play there. Second, it's a small club, capacity is around 700, with few seats. So you know you'll be up close to the bands, sweating to the beat. While it may get crowded, there's usually enough room in the back near the bars to find a little personal space. And finally, beer prices are reasonable.

The club will close around July 4 and reopen after Labor Day in its new configuration.

With a renovation, you never know what you'll get.

From the Herald story: "Plans call for the box office and hallway leading to the club entrance to be knocked down to increase the floor space, and a new box office will be built near the front of the building. The current dressing rooms will be demolished; new ones will include such amenities as showers. Another source said the Paradise Lounge, a separate room in the front of the club, will be reconfigured to enlarge the capacity of the rock club to around 1,000."

What I'm most worried about is demolishing the aura of the place. In its current form the Paradise is not fancy or shiny or bright. It's a rock club, as rock clubs should be: small and dark with a good sound system. That's all rock fans really care about. Showers for the band? We're all for it. But don't ruin the club.

The House of Blues is fine, but we don't need another one. Beer prices there suck; we're paying for ambience.

So please, Paradise owners, think twice before you renovate. Do the right thing and make sure you keep the club's spirit intact.

No comments: