Since the Big Easy is a fairly cash-positive business, when Venue Manager Gary Pike called me for a sit-down, I expected a lot of talk culminating in a lot of a). That's certainly how the conversation started. The venue and its parent company had been bought by the fabled Knitting Factory. There was talk of name changes, knocking down a wall here, getting new carpet there. All aesthetic, nothing substantive. Then Pike told me about the talent buyer.
Since opening, acts that play the Big Easy have been selected by Bravo Entertainment, the company's concert-staging arm (think LiveNation but smaller). They're cool and all, but I (and two out of every three people I talk to about it) have always felt like Bravo wasn't exactly tailoring concerts to the needs of our evolving scene. They got the Decemberists and Andrew Bird, sure. Mostly, though, they'd found a few winners (Queensryche, Afro-man, Tech N9ne) and put them on repeat.
Restructuring in the wake of the Knitting Factory purchase, Big Easy has gained a bit of distance from Bravo. Most notably, they have their own talent buyer booking concerts. His name is Mark Dinerstein. Among other things, he has promised a concerted effort to bring as much good music to Spokane as possible, to the point of creating relationships with other venues for shows that won't fill the Big Easy. "I'm going to be getting a lot of calls," he said this week. "If it doesn't make sense [for us], I'm going to put them through to [another club]."
We'll be holding him to all of that.
Dinerstein's early record's good. In three weeks, he's brought in Atreyu, Bright Eyes and Modest Mouse. Better, tickets to Modest Mouse are selling well enough that Big Easy will announce on Friday that they're adding a second night. Smells like progress.
There are more substantive changes on the horizon: Knitting Factory senior VP Morgan Margolis is in town this week to look aroound. Chew on this, but expect a proper story later.