Keeping up with promoters and venues in this town is sort of like getting entwined in a soap opera ("WHAT? JOKER'S WITH DIESEL NOW? OMIGOD!"). There are a few mid- to major-level show promoters who tend to bounce back and forth given the dearth of one well-located mid-level venue in the city. The latest development in the game is the arrival of Opus One Productions at the Bloomfield/Lawrenceville hipster joint the Brillobox.
Opus One is known for bringing us most of what happens at the bigger venue Mr. Small's in Millvale; they also take care of many of the touring acts that find their way to Club Cafe on the South Side. The new appointment at the Brillobox will bring the promotions team into a new ballpark -- a smaller venue with a slightly different clientele and history.
When the Brillobox opened in the fall of 2005, the team that was booking there (the now-apparently-defunct Theorem) brought a glut of notable big indie rock shows. Some time thereafter, the tenor shifted some and more and more dance parties, along with general non-venue "bar stuff" (read: karaoke) began to dominate the schedule (a bit sad since, for small rock shows, the venue is an ideal size, and the location is perfect).
Lately the nightly dance party trend has seemingly calmed down to a much more tolerable level and perhaps the new arrival of Opus One at the Brillobox signifies a new era of decent rock shows at the venue -- the team brings us the latest installment of PghPOP, in a much more sensible location than its old venue at Mr. Small's, this Saturday (featuring The Coast, Power Pill Fist and The Red Falcon Project).
The challenge, of course, will be translating experience booking shows at a big semi-suburban venue (Small's) where local openers aren't that common on the whole, and at Club Cafe, which has an entirely different sound in its "scene" (tending more toward the folky acoustic and WYEP-style AAA stuff) into a successful venture at a place like the Brillobox. The built-in clientele at the Brillobox is generally a hip rock crowd with a certain set of local favorites, and it'll behoove Opus One to familiarize themselves with what goes over well there if they want as many people at the show upstairs as there are in the bar downstairs.
It's also notable that Secret Eye is booking some dates at the venue now as well; those of you who have been taking notes will remember that I wrote up Secret Eye's band, Black Forest/Black Sea, a few weeks back for the paper. That should bring up the less straightforward, more experimental side of rock for the venue -- as is evidenced by the upcoming Secret Eye/Brillobox presentation of the French two-piece Vialka on July 18.