Venues revamp image

Given the long hours waiting around in bars with little to do, it's no wonder that many Midwest musicians know how to play pool. For most bands, the ability to shoot a game of eightball is as fundamental as the ability to drink beer or mismanage money.

Place

Pool Room

925 Iowa, Lawrence

So it seems an appropriate fit that the two should come together. And over the last year at The Pool Room, 925 Iowa, that's been the case.

"Most of the bands that come in don't even play that much pool," Pool Room concert promoter Aaron Silber reveals. "I think the Roots Crew played the most pool on Thanksgiving of any of the groups I've seen."

Lately, Silber's seen quite a few groups. The Pool Room is celebrating the Project Groove One Year Anniversary, the live event that has showcased many fine acts during 2002, specifically those catering to area hip-hop fans. To commemorate the occasion, Z-Trip and Dee Jay P will put on a special joint performance at 10 tonight. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.

For The Pool Room, this is one of the biggest productions the veteran venue has undertaken, so new tactics are being put in place.

"Because these bands are kind of anal about their art form, we're having to fly them to a big city where they can practice for five days," Silber explains. "Dee Jay P is on tour right now, and we have to fly them from Seattle to Los Angeles to practice. Also, their 'rider' list is the biggest we've ever had. They want to practice inside the venue for six hours the day of the event."

For the first time the venue is not just shuttling music fans into the back room but is transforming the whole building into a concert setting. This increases the occupancy from 300 to 600.

Additionally, this show marks the first involvement of the Douglas County AIDS Project.

"We're trying to get them on a regular basis to help awareness," he says.

photo

Phil Cauthon / lawrence.com

Rapper Mac Lethal performs recently at The Pool Room.

Silber has been at The Pool Room for six months, and in addition to promotion duties he handles advertising and runs the sound board. He says most of the music events have averaged about 125 people.

"We're one of the only clubs to promote underground hip-hop," he asserts.

As for Silber's own skills with handling a cue, he says, "You know, I'm pretty decent at shooting pool."

Bottleneck gets facelift

The fact The Bottleneck was closed for a week following its New Year's Eve blowout had nothing to do with the inevitable aftermath of such revelry. It was due to a rather extensive remodeling.

"I want to be in business ANOTHER 20 years," owner Brett Mosiman says. "I got to stay ahead of the curve."

Place

Bottleneck

737 New Hampshire, Lawrence

That proverbial curve has led Lawrence's premier live music venue to undergo a little cosmetic surgery.

"We've done a lot of mini-remodels over the years, like adding the bleachers or raising the ceiling height or adding the back bar," Mosiman recalls. "But this is the first substantial one in seven or eight years."

Mosiman explains the club, 737 N.H., has performed "a lot of traffic changes and aesthetic changes." These include:

  • Dropping the sound stacks back flush with the stage so the sight lines are better.
  • Adding seating in the front room.
  • l Raising the back of the room so audiences can see the stage easier.
  • Constructing a wall by the front entrance to cut down on sound leakage.
  • Removing the "stinky carpeting" against the east windows and replacing it with booths.
  • Adding more lighting throughout the location.
  • Mounting five new TVs.
  • Painting a large mural on the west wall.

"There's just a lot more places to sit in The Bottleneck now," he says. "It's been incredibly well received by people."

Mosiman estimates the renovation cost "over $10,000 and under $25,000." The occupancy of the club was not affected.

The facelift isn't just limited to the physical, either. The changes are also philosophical.

"We've done some business things, like we're lowering the local cover prices on weekends to $3," Mosiman says. "We've lowered our sound fee to better attract the local talent again. One of the things was about getting in touch with the market again and being the pre-eminent purveyor of local music in the local musicians' eyes.

"I got the impression that some of the local cats thought of us as the big rock dinosaur that was raping and pillaging the little guy and only cared about the national acts. That could not be further from the truth. So we need to make a step in that direction to reconnect with the local scene -- not that we weren't ALWAYS the biggest beacon of local music."

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