A MUSIC VENUE’S CAPITAL VIBE Not since the days of Harpo’s has Victoria had a city-defining live-music venue. Capital City Ballroom is ready to be that place. By David Lennam
ou feel like you’re in the barrel of a gun and just being shot out.” That’s how Towers and Trees lead guitarist Dave Zellinsky says it feels to be standing stage-front ripping a blistering solo in the Capital Ballroom. “There’s a real powerful energy from the crowd and physically, the way the room is set up creates this really neat vortex of energy and people and mass of sweaty bodies. On stage it gives you that extra 10 per cent that ends up circulating through the crowd.” The sort of praise reserved for the “great” music halls — those iconic venues that define cities. Like the legendary Fillmore in San Francisco, CBGB in New York City, the Horseshoe in Toronto and, naturally, Vancouver’s Commodore. All ramped up into the canon of mythology by the hippest bands, 70
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by writers, poets, promoters and concertgoers who have held a ticket. It’s what the Capital Ballroom hopes to be.
RELEVANT ROOMS Opening a room and booking a few bands is no guarantee that you’ll become a cultural (or counter-culture) institution, a flagship for music and somewhere musicians think they have to play. Nick Blasko knew that going in. The cofounder of Atomique Productions, Victoria’s busiest promoter, is one of the team of 10 owners who purchased Sugar Nightclub and a lease on the Yates Street building, from Damian Cownden in 2016. It’s a group — Blasko, Dimitri Demers, Dylan Willows, Glen Barlow, Adam Duron, Chris Hibbins, Morgan Brooker, Stephen Franke, Colin McTaggart,
and Teddy Yip — with deep roots in the music ecosystem. “When I think about rooms that I enjoy the most or am inspired by being in,” says Blasko, “it’s rooms with histories and where amazing shows have happened and the histories become so potent that the rooms take on a really strong identity of their own. They become places that artists look forward to playing and become so important to a city and to a scene.” For Blasko, it’s the similar-sized halls like the El Rey Theatre in LA and the Bowery Ballroom in NYC that have achieved that status. “They’re important rooms and they stand the test of time and withstand the changing tides of music,” he says. “They were around in the heyday of the LP and the CD and the iTunes era and now into the Spotify era. As
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