Did I call it or did I call it? I might not be able to predict the lottery numbers or who's gonna win American Idol every year, but I was definitely on the money with my prognostication a few months ago that PHX concert promoter Mantooth Group would re-open the Nile Theatre before year's end. (Hell, I even offered a $100 wager during my guest DJ set on the Blaze last month).
Michelle Donovan issues a press release via e-mail that, indeed, the Nile will once again be a viable venue for the concertgoing public by the summer. According to the dispatch, Mantooth is "on track for a late May opening." (I'd been hearing/reading rumor over the past few days -- including some chatter amongst the AZPunk crowd -- that it was happening in June).
Per the release, Mantooth will be holding events both upstairs in the Nile Theatre proper, which will hold a maximum of 642 people, while simultaneously offering gigs in the downstairs Underground venue (which opened back in February).
End result: Mantooth now has the ample space to book shows both big and small, which could potentially have some major implications for the local music scene.
Such as? Read on for some more of my predictions.
In its mass e-mail, Michelle Donovan stated: "Since, we took over the building it definitely has been on our minds (turning the main floor back into a venue) and we just decided to go for it. I hope that it will be received as well as The Underground was."
It probably will, Michelle -- better than you guys think. Having two venues at its disposal (particularly one as large as the Nile) will help turn the promoter into more of a major player in local concerts. Will it raise them to the level of Lucky Man (which owns and runs the Marquee)? Probably not. But that could most certainly change depending on who is featured at the Nile.
Whereas Luckyman is open to pretty much kind of act, Mantooth currently focuses more on booking bands of the hard rock/punk/hardcore variety. Since the Underground opened, however, MG has been accepting a number of indie rock gigs from Psyko Steve.
Jeremiah Gratza (who helps run Stateside Presents with Charlie Levy) says that they're potentially interested in bringing some upcoming shows to the Nile as well.
"I'm excited. I think it's great news for the Valley's music scene. With Modified gone and Chyro shutting down, any new venue is a good thing."
Does that mean he and Levy will be calling up Mantooth in the near future?
"I think so," Gratza says. "Obviously it will be up to Charlie, and as long as everything's in order with the [Nile's] sound and the vibe and its good for the particular artist."
It also could be a shot in the arm for downtown Mesa, especially cool alt-friendly businesses that are nearby like eVeRmOrE NeVeRmOrE and Inside the Bungalow, many of which will likely benefit from having concertgoers walking by. (At the very least, the Nile makes for an interesting neighbor for the more button-down Mesa Arts Center a few blocks away.)
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On the downside, there's also a chance that the Nile's re-opening could possibly spell certain doom for the Clubhouse Music Venue (which is of comparable size). The Tempe venue (and the adjacent Horse & Hound) isn't exactly the most well maintained of concert halls and has reportedly been up for sale for two years now. My gut feeling is that a lot of shows that normally would be booked at CMV will soon be heading to Mesa.
Then again, the Clubhouse is closer to the action and music fans might not be willing to drive further into the East Valley to see a show. (Plus there's the fact that alcohol is readily available both on the concert side of CMV and at the Horse & Hound. Currently, Mantooth hasn't announced whether or not booze will be served at the Nile.)
It might take a few months to find out if all my predictions will come true, but I'm certain that I'm not the only one who thinks that the Clubhouse might be ovah. For instance, AZPunk's Jeremx left a rather telling comment on my blog back in February:
"Say 'goodnight,' clubhouse."