By Chris Illich
Last April, Erik Dickson, promoter, found himself in a sticky situation. Detour Music Hall, the bar that he booked most of his shows was in the process of being sold and he realized that he had to do something new. The solution? Dickson decided the best way to move forward was to open up an accessible, multi-purpose venue, the Warehouse. Originally projected to open in November 2016, Dickson has seen their opening pushed back further and further, but now hopes are high as they prep for an April launch.
When did you start working on getting the Warehouse open?
I saw the space in April of last year. By the time the business is open, it will have been a year since we first walked in the doors. Our official start date was July 15. That was when we designed and submitted permits. We didn’t start building until mid-November, and then since then it’s been a work in progress.
The first show that was booked for the Warehouse was Bif Naked in November, but you said that you didn’t start building until mid-November, what was the reasoning for this?
Well, one of the toughest parts was trying to book in advance and not really know when it would come together. We had projections that we would be able to open our doors in November, but in September we found out that we wouldn’t be able to open. Our permits were not approved so we had to do a secondary permit, and from November until now is how long it really took to build that space.
You had to book in advance in order to keep your production company Indoor Shoes going. It seemed like a tease every time you’d announce a show at the Warehouse, and then it would get moved to a different venue.
There was two ways to go about it, one way was to not book anything and wait until I had the green light and then start booking. Given that booking concerts is something that happens two or three months in advance, we’d be waiting until the summer for the launch.
It was a tough balance but once I realized that we were close to opening, I made the decision to start booking for March, thinking we would be finished. Realistically, in the last two weeks its been all the small things that came up that no one could have predicted. So a bunch of shows got moved and rescheduled. I’m not happy about that. But, as of right now, we’re physically days away from filling the venue. It was definitely a complicated process that I had no idea about.
Luckily, I survived another year of concerts in not the most desirable environments and that kept us going. It was unfortunate, but if I’m being honest, it almost stopped being fun anymore.
It sounds like it’s been a grind trying to get this venue open, what has kept you motivated throughout the process?
Well, right before we walked into what will now be the Warehouse, I went through a period of time where I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to book shows anymore. There was a period of a few weeks where I wasn’t putting in any effort into it and I thought I was going to call if off.
The venue we were using was holding us back. Detour was so sub-par in terms of sound, product and atmosphere – it was holding me back from what I wanted to accomplish every night. I was constantly apologizing for everything.
Then we started having conversations about opening a new venue and that got me thinking about how my role could change a bit. One of the weirdest things to think of was that there really aren’t a lot of people doing ticketed events around Niagara. If I were to walk away, what would happen to our music scene? I don’t really mean that as an ego thing, it was a pressure thing – if I were to walk away, would anyone else make it happen?
Now that the venue is so close to opening, what can people expect from the room?
People can expect the best sounding room in St. Catharines outside of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, we’ve really been considering the acoustics in the mix. Really, the goals are to make and create even more opportunities for people to see live music. But, it doesn’t end there, we want to do live music, dance parties, private parties, movie screens or theatre performances. So, it’s just a venue in the most traditional sense. I’m not going to tell people what they can or can’t do there. I just want people to come to the venue.
Follow The Warehouse on Facebook, and keep an eye on the venue is set to open.