Over at the former Metro Block (the property between Sprague and First, just West of the Met), some major changes are afoot. (Like you hadn't noticed already.) What's happening is the busy renovation and new construction that will very soon be transformed into a new 1,500-seat live music venue called the Big Easy. Metropolitan Mortgage and Boise-based concert promoter Bravo Entertainment are teaming up on the project in the hopes of providing local live music fans with the kind of classy, mid-sized venue they've been pining for -- one that should finally put Spokane on the map as far as exciting national touring acts are concerned. If all goes according to plan, the Big Easy will be ready for its grand opening on New Year's Eve.
A medium-sized live music venue -- one with a capacity greater than that of area bars and the Met but smaller and more intimate than either the Spokane Arena or the Opera House -- might be just the thing to lift Spokane from a tour stop afterthought to a primary consideration for many rock and blues bands. For more than two years, Bravo has successfully operated (to the tune of more than 300 concerts and counting) the Big Easy Concert House in Boise, a 1,000-capacity, state-of-the-art concert venue with a rock club feel in the heart of that city's historic downtown. When not hosting shows from major national touring acts, the Big Easy keeps things shaking via its dance club nights and special events.
Bravo co-owner Paul Thorntin says Spokane's Big Easy will be more of the same -- only more -- though the schedule hasn't been hammered out yet.
"We're on target for a New Year's Eve opening," he says. "But until we get to about mid-October and we really know for sure that there won't be any setbacks anywhere, we're going to hold off. We've got some ideas of entertainers we want to go after for the grand opening, but the thing is, we've got to be booked months out from that point. So until we know that exact date for sure, locked in, it's tough to do that."
Well, he may not be able to tell us exactly what to expect, but a look at upcoming Spokane Bravo concerts at other local venues and a quick trip to Boise's Big Easy Web site (www.bigeasyconcerts.com) gives us a taste of the kinds of acts that we should expect to see on the Spokane Big Easy's schedule after the first of the year: Alison Krauss, Reverend Horton Heat, Cheap Trick, Shelby Lynn, the Wailers, Lisa Marie Presley, Insane Clown Posse, Ted Nugent, Queens of the Stone Age, KMFDM, Built to Spill, Ani DiFranco and more. In a nutshell: quality and variety.
"We'll actually have the capacity to do even bigger shows in Spokane than we can do here," says Thorntin, who was in town looking over the construction two weeks ago. "I stood up there in the VIP room, looking down on the main hall, and it's really coming together. The more I look at it and the little changes that we're making as we see it evolve, it should very well be the nicest club in the country."