The situation I'm at Moe Bar having fries and beers with Eli Anderson, who's spent the past two months prepping for the opening of Barboza, the new 200-capacity basement venue underneath Neumos, which opens for business this week. Anderson is the venue's new talent buyer. We're joined by Kerri Harrop, who's been handling Barboza's publicity, and Scout, a fry-hungry dog belonging to Neumos/Barboza co-owner Mike Meckling.
How He Got Here Anderson had spent the previous four or so years as the Crocodile's booking agent, and when Neumos co-owner Steven Severin first offered him the Barboza booking job, he turned it down. Then Jason Lajeunesse, another co-owner, told Anderson he'd also have the opportunity to book at Neumos and for the Capitol Hill Block Party. "He gave me the big pitch," says Anderson. " 'It's that, but it's also this,' like an eye for the bigger things."Shop Talk Useful things to know about Barboza: There is a full bar down there; there is a full, real PA; there are men's and women's bathrooms (Anderson: "In the ladies', there are a couple stalls, I believe. In the men's, I think there's just one toilet"); there is a good-sized green room; on Friday and Saturday nights it'll be open 'til 3 a.m. (you can't keep drinking, but you can keep dancing); and Anderson's goal is to have music there seven nights a week. Another question that's been nagging at me--was there really a need for a new live-music venue? Anderson explains it neatly:
"It's cool to have another space to be able to do small bands on their first time through, or slightly bigger bands who wanna play a space that they know they can sell out," Anderson says. "On Capitol Hill, you can play Comet, which is awesome, but Comet definitely has a certain vibe. Like I can't picture Grimes playing at the Comet and it being cool. They're different aesthetics, and that's why I think it's necessary. Comet definitely has their thing down. I don't think Barboza competes with that. Certain bands are going to want that grungy, immediate sort of situation. At Barboza you're going to get some of that, but it's a little bit more refined."
Significantly, there's also the business chain that now links Barboza, Neumos, and the Capitol Hill Block Party, offering bands an upward trajectory--which Anderson says is their overall philosophy: "You're gonna do your first show [at Barboza], and it might do OK, it might not, and then we're going to do the second one and maybe we can do it upstairs this time. It gives Neumos a lot more flexibility. Now we're able to offer three sizes for bands. We can go all the way up, until they play Block Party on the mainstage in front of 15,000 people."
BTW Lajeunesse gets the credit for naming Barboza; he got the idea from a font he saw on the cover of a book. "There's something secretive and foreign about it," says Anderson. "It has the word 'bar' in it, which is awesome." Something about the swashbuckling-sounding name made me assume it was pirate-themed. Anderson laughs. "It's not pirate-themed. It's not nautical-themed." All this time I've been picturing it as something like Disneyland's "Pirates of the Caribbean" ride. "I don't know if there's enough time to change it now," Anderson says.
Barboza will have its opening night, for reals this time, this Thursday, April 26. It's a Good To Die Records showcase with Sandrider, Dog Shredder, Monogamy Party, Brokaw; starts at 8 p.m. with an $8 cover.