August 11, 2011
When my team was in the middle of refurbishing of that grand old club, Webster Hall, on East 11th Street, a great deal of internal buzz was focused on the creation of the Studio. It was meant to be a hot bed of musical creativity, a place where up and coming talent could grow on their way to the Ballroom upstairs, and beyond. Since its creation in 1886, Webster Hall has seen just about every bold face name in the musical business use its facilities either to record or perform. One reference even called it the city’s “first modern nightclub.”
During its heyday, Webster Hall was an RCA recording studio and therefore had the acoustic chops to make musicians salivate. The Ballroom has hosted shows with performers such as Tina Turner Eric Clapton, Prince, Metallica, Sting, Aerosmith, U2, Book of Love, Cro-Mags, Kiss, B.B. King, The Ramones and Guns N’ Roses break to big. The stage is considered one of the best in the city.
The Ballinger Brothers have been operating the space since 1992.They have a respectful eye towards the history of the venue and club, with a keen eye on the future and emerging music. The Studio is the creative cauldron at the heart of the place. In a city where a joints’ run is a miracle at 5 years, Webster Hall is over 125 years old. That’s old, but not tired. A few years back, before the world was going goo goo over Gaga, Webster booked her for New Year’s Eve. She was virtually unknown then, but by the time the end of year celebration had arrived she was the sensation we know today. Webster’s booking team had boldly committed to her for the biggest night of the year and they were rewarded for being so right.
Another example of the vibrancy of Webster’s bookings is the story of Hoodie Allen, an unsigned artist who was booked for The Studio, but as the gig got closer it was realized that fan interest needed the Grand Ballroom. This coming Tuesday, Hoodie Allen will move on up from the basement Studio to the Grand Ballroom where legends like Bob Dylan, Tito Puente, Tony Bennet, Ray Charles, Harry Belafonte, Frank Sinatra and Elvis have treaded before—yeah, that Frank Sinatra and that Elvis. I caught up with Heath Miller who is the VP of Live Music over there and asked him about this upcoming gig.
Who is Hoodie Allen and why did you try to book him for the studio?
Heath Miller: Hoodie Allen is an unsigned hip-hop artist, who was working at Google and performing on the side. He recently left Google to pursue his music career full time, and has seeing a huge uptick in his fan base since then. We’ve had Hoodie Allen perform here before, opening up for Chris Webby last October. I’ve kept in touch with his management since then, and when the opportunity came up to have him back in the Studio at Webster Hall, we booked him to headline here.
So the show sold out the Studio. When did you realize that it had to be moved to the Ballroom to accommodate the demand for tickets?
We sold a good amount of tickets the first day we went on sale, enough to know that the show would sellout by day of show. We didn’t expect it to sell out over a week in advance, and then all of a sudden get a ton of emails and calls from fans freaking out that they couldn’t get tickets. The manager and I decided to roll the dice and move the show to the Grand Ballroom at Webster Hall, and so far it looks like a good move as we’re well on our way to a packed Webster Hall!
What’s going on with the Studio these days and what notable musicians have played the room?
Everything is going very well at the Studio. We’ve been making many improvements and repairs and we recently moved our ticketing to Ticketweb, which has helped increase our advance sales. We just had The Horrors, Foster the People, Never Shout Never, CJ Ramone and The Knux play here, and in the past we’ve had everyone from The National and Odd Future to Spacehog and Fishbone. We try to book a diverse range of acts here to match the diversity of New York City, which is a challenging but very fun way to treat the venue. The constant influx of different music helps keep things exciting.
I asked for Hoodie Allen’s bio and was sent the following. I think this is a very worthwhile show and I plan to attend.
Make every word count. This has long been the mantra of Hoodie Allen, the New York based rapper and songwriter. With a penchant for candid storytelling and witty punchlines, Hoodie has always been an emcee who understood the importance of connecting with the audience through his lyrics. A purveyor of summertime anthems, Hoodie Allen has gained notable buzz on the internet for his unique genre-blending style, unafraid to sample from the unconventional norms of hip hop.
His most recent work samples a diverse array of artists and sounds from UK pop singers (Marina & The Diamonds) to indie rock staples and upstarts (Death Cab for Cutie). The idiosyncrasy of the music is very fitting as Hoodie Allen is not your typical rapper. A self-described “college educated music nerd”, Hoodie Allen embraces his individuality and promotes it as the main message in his hype-machine breakout “You Are Not A Robot” (2010). The future is bright for Hoodie Allen. He plans to continue providing the masses with feel-good music for a long time