Thursday, March 12, 2009

Venue Review: Roseland Ballroom

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Location: Midtown, Manhattan
Address: 239 W 52nd St (between Broadway and 8th)
Size: Large (cap. 3,000+)
Directions: 1 to 50th, walk two blocks north and half a block west; or C or E to 50th, walk two blocks north and half a block east; or B, D or E to 7th Ave, walk one block south and a block and a half west

Acoustics: D
Booking: N/A
Helpfulness to bands: N/A
Atmosphere: D

Acoustics - Though miles better than the nearby Terminal 5, Roseland's acoustics are still a huge mess. Roseland wasn't built as a music venue, it was built as, well, a ballroom and later adapted to be a boxing arena. Just because someone hung some huge speakers from the ceiling doesn't make it a concert hall - the sound is miserably muddy and made more so by sheer volume. Of course, sheer volume is part of some music and as such, My Bloody Valentine, who played Roseland in September, sounded better here than most bands who come through the spot. But unless the band you want to see has calculated their use of volume to create distortion and overtones as part of their craft (and that's rare), the blasting speakers will just turn everything to sludge.

Booking - I've never booked a show this big, so I really don't know anything about it.

Helpfulness - Again, I haven't a clue.

Atmosphere - Roseland gives off a creepy corporate vibe, made worse by the knowledge that it's a boxing venue and that it's just up the road from Times Square. The massive crowds are herded through like so many sheep and it's obviously not the kind of venue that cares in the slightest about the artistic merit of the bands who play there. It's about ticket sales and moving people in and out quickly after getting as much money off them as possible. There are lots of venues like this in every city, and sometimes they are the only way to see a band you like, but just be forewarned that the atmosphere is at best generic and at worst, oppressive.

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