I must admit that I rolled my eyes when I saw yesterday’s headline regarding declining ticket sales at The Washington Pavilion. Then I rolled my eyes a few more times as I read their yearly list of excuses and deflections.
There really is no reason for ticket sales to be down almost $300,000.
In fact, this should be a prime period for events at the building. As the music industry continues to freefall, the future of live music isn’t in shiny new giant buildings. Outside of a rapidly-declining list of so-called “superstars”, there are few acts these that can draw Arena-level numbers anywhere besides large cities. Music acts are now forced to look for niches instead of wide-acceptance. In Minneapolis, the Target Center and other similar buildings are booking fewer and fewer concerts, while First Avenue is enjoying a return to their 80’s cultural dominance and the nearby Pantages Theater has a full lineup of upcoming shows.
The real future of live music is at the theater level, and the Pavilion should be capitalizing on it. There are hundreds of acts that could do well at that facility. Every genre could and should be considered, including pop, punk, Americana, singer-songwriters, metal, and folk. Up and comers as well as those a bit past their prime. Household names as well as those with substantial cult followings. Book Tori Amos one night and follow her with Paul Westerberg two nights later. (PLEASE!!!)
This isn’t a criticism for what is currently booked. There will always be a market for the middle-of-the-road acts that are generally booked, and the building is a natural location for the great jazz that has always been a part of their lineup. I’m just saying there is more out there than Lori Line Christmas shows, American Idol finalists, and aging pop and country “stars”. Michael Bolton certainly has his place in the area’s concert lineup, but so does Steve Earle and Nick Cave.
Personally, I’ve attended four shows in the past decade - Elvis Costello, Ben Folds, Wilco, and Lewis Black. While some of the reasoning for this pathetically short list is the fact that I’m a curmudgeon who rarely leaves his house at night, it is primarily due to the simple fact that most of their bookings are not appealing to me. Can’t a bone be tossed my way once or twice a year?