Downtown Los Angeles is getting a new concert venue a little that's a little off the beaten path. Teragram Ballroom is the latest project from the team behind New York's Bowery Ballroom and Mercury Lounge, along with Broadway Bar's Joe Baxley. The 9,000-square-foot space has a capacity of roughly 600 people. Construction is still in progress but it's anticipated that the venue will open this spring.
Unlike other downtown hot spots, Teragram is situated outside of the downtown's center. Located at 1234 7th Street in Westlake, the former movie theater is next to a dry cleaner. Its closest party-time neighbors are Monty Bar and art gallery/T-shirt shop Lethal Amounts.
The fact that it's a little further away from the Saturday night crowd is one of the selling points of the location. "There is a little bit more openness here," says owner Michael Swier, noting parking availability in the neighborhood. Although the 110 freeway overpass stands between Teragram and the 7th Street Metro station, the walk is reasonable.
In New York, Bowery Ballroom and Mercury Lounge are staples of the music scene. Swier is big enough presence there that news of his westward expansion hit the New York Times late last year. However, Los Angeles is a different beast. "It's a much slower endeavor than it was in New York," he says of the club-opening process here.
On a recent walk down 7th street, L.A. Weekly noticed that there is still a lot of work going on at the venue. There's no marquee on the building yet and a construction crew was busily working in the front of the space.
Once the project is complete, however, there may be a lot here to entice locals to check out the spot. Swier says that they are bringing in "high-end" sound and lights. "I am really excited about the way it's looking and how it's going to feel to be in there, and also the way it's going to sound in general," he says.
Swier says he's bringing his business west because Los Angeles and New York share similar musical interests. Bowery Ballroom and Mercury Lounge book a lot of indie bands. Teragram will be doing the same. He adds that the benefit of opening shop in Los Angeles, where he lived for a few years in the 1970s, is the number of artists and industry folks who call the city home.
Like Bowery Ballroom and Mercury Lounge, Teragram will be working outside of the mega-concert machine. It's not affiliated with corporate concert groups like Live Nation and AEG Live; booking will be done in-house by Aquarium Drunkard's Scott Simoneaux. They're actually building booking offices above the theater.
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If Bowery Ballroom and Mercury Lounge's calendars are any indication of what the group plans to bring to Los Angeles then Teragram might be competition for Spaceland Production's venues, like the Echo and Echoplex. The programming leans more towards rock artists, with a mix of the big names in post-punk and indie as well as younger touring acts.