Underground gets a bit brighter

by Sara Knight

The Underground at the Irish Embassy Pub has gotten a facelift of sorts, with a new stage and a lighter paint job. No longer will it only be known as the place the girl regrets going and the guys wish they’d done more than just stare. Don’t worry, though! Those days are not completely gone. From 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, the lights will still be turned down, the amps turned up and the imbalance of the sexes will be as visible as ever.

The rest of the time though, local bands can book the venue, bring their fans and play their hearts out on the new, custom stage. CJ Alderton, local band member and volunteer at the Embassy, came up with the idea this summer along with Embassy owner, Michael Graham.

“It was just time. The place had become worn out,” Alderton said. “So all of this has been remodeled, repainted, repurposed. It’s not as dark and scary.”

The space hasn’t changed all that much. For those familiar, the walls have been brightened, the old stage has been turned into storage and the new stage has been built on the other side of the room where a bar used to stand. It’s about 25 feet across at the front, and narrows toward the back.

The main change, though, is the new house concert business model. While it’s nice to have a place for scoping out the ladies to the bumpin’ beatz late-night, this may not have been the most popular or profitable plan. Alderton said this new idea is following a nationwide trend of smaller concert venues and a closeness between audience and performer.

“People want that intimacy with the artist and they want to experience the music,” Alderton said.

Now bands can bring their followers and put on a show.

“Basically, the agreement we have with the bands is BYOC (bring your own crowd),” Alderton said. “They keep 100 percent of the gate and the pub makes its money off of food and beverage.”

That’s right, bands! Book the stage, spread the word, put on a show and take home the door money.

“We really believe that we could have a lot of bands in here,” Alderton said. “And the thing is that the financials turn out just spectacularly for the band.”

The new stage has been up for a couple of weeks now, with the first show back on Nov. 13.

“The Six Dollar String Band only charged like five bucks apiece and they had a very good night,” Alderton said. “We ran about 200 people through here our very first night. It’s very cool.

“We want to celebrate the folk genre, whether that’s bluegrass or old-timey or whatever,” Alderton said. “Really we would invite any local bands who know that they have a following to contact me and we’ll set them up.”

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