Talking With Chris White, Booker of New Bushwick Venue The Wick

01/14/2011 9:42 AM |

The Hittleman Brewery
  • The Hittleman Brewery

Between a brief article in The Brooklyn Paper on Tuesday sketching out what will become a new music venue in the former 19th-century Hittleman Brewery building on Meserole Street and a heavily commented post on BrooklynVegan yesterday, there seemed to already be a few things regarding The Wick that could use some clarification. We hopped on the phone with Chris White, who will be taking on the role of talent booker, to hear more about what promises to be, as far as we’re concerned, a welcome addition to Bushwick.

For starters, the plan is to have two separate rooms, one a bar area (no live music planned), the other housing the stage. White makes it a point to mention, though, that the rooms’ 400 and 700 respective capacities referenced in The Brooklyn Paper are ideal numbers deemed by The Wick’s team — but at this point merely projections. Capacities are left to building regulations and the city powers that be, so everyone will have to wait it out before actual numbers are determined and, consequently, the size of bands it will draw.

Will the talent booked cater towards the quote-unquote indie crowd? Sure, as much as that stuff is what the typical concert-goer in Brooklyn in 2011 wants to see. But White points out that “there’s a vibrant Latin community in Bushwick too; if we’re able to get that crowd to the venue, we’ll try to book the best Latin show the space allows for,” suggesting that Latin is merely a placeholder for any number of possible genres that might shuffle through. “New York is home to such an eclectic mix of music. Our goal is to create a place that will give people the best experience possible for whatever type of band is performing on any given night.”

So, then, the natural conclusion is that Bowery Presents, with its venerable reputation and 600-capacity nearby venues Music Hall of Williamsburg and Brooklyn Bowl, will present the biggest competition. White was quick to mention that when General Manager Josh Richholt talked about differentiating The Wick from the “Wal-Mart style places with corporate backing” in The Brooklyn Paper, neither Bowery Presents nor any of their venues were mentioned, making it very clear that The Wick’s team has nothing but the utmost respect for what is easily the most successful promotion company in the city. (The Brooklyn Paper has since included an addendum to the article, stating as such; Richholt even chimes in at the comments section, noting that he was actually taking a shot at “Live Nation and their effect on independent venues being much like Wal-Mart’s effect on independent stores.” Oh, snap.)

As for Bowery, “Who wouldn’t want to try to follow in their footsteps?” White said, pinpointing their knack for following talent from an early stage. “They’ve been doing it better than anybody, and in New York, on the biggest stage in the world.” But they’ve been set up to be that way, he explains, with a national focus on talent and a nationally focused business model. In a city like New York — with its wealth of music, people who want to experience it live, and ability to draw talent from all corners of the world — there should probably be more than one prominent booking agency, right? And so we can assume that The Wick will aim more locally, at least in a business frame of mind, as headed by three former Knitting Factory executives who live not far from the Hittleman site. (White will continue work at Tiger Mountain Presents, the independent promotion company he runs with former Bell House booker “Skippy” McFadden, in addition to booking The Wick.)

He’d rather not even entertain the idea whether they’ll open another venue if The Wick does well, and that makes sense, considering the task that still looms ahead. Will it host music nightly? “The goal of any new business is to be open seven days a week,” White said, “but since we’re looking to book bigger shows, it seems unlikely for now,” acknowledging that even longtime running venues of similar size typically schedule only a few shows a week. To add to it, and as the BrooklynVegan commenters are at each others’ throats debating, some view its ever-nebulous Bushwick-slash-East Williamsburg location as being too out of the way from the North Brooklyn hubbub for it to succeed. “I mean, we’re not in Times Square. There’s not going to be a ton of foot traffic, but if shows are promoted correctly, then I’m not too concerned,” White said. And it’s not like they’re as far out as some would lead you to believe: just two blocks from the L train’s Montrose station, which is less of a walk than it is to Music Hall of Williamsburg from Bedford.

So, there you have it: the new locally run music venue that’s set to take over the rad-looking former brewery near Bushwick Aveune which might hold 700 people and has no hate towards Bowery Presents could open as early as summer. God, I hope they get Arcade Fire.