New Spire Stages is open at last. Five years of work and development has finally come to fruition. The venue’s grand opening events were this past weekend (Saturday the 19th and Sunday the 20th). I was able to attend Sunday’s performance of which I’ll have a review of below. First though, I’d like to mention how significant this whole ordeal is to the music and arts scene.
New Spire Arts as an organization has been striving with its best effort to seemingly fit a hole in the Frederick community (New Spire Studios on East Church St. has already done some of this by providing classes/workshops, Frederick Jams and even a punk zine presentation!). With Stages they are really bridging the gap in the middle between seeing music/art/dance in smaller performance spaces, bars/other unconventional areas and somewhere bigger like the Weinberg Center. Stages aims as a multi-purpose blackbox theatre which really makes many people hopeful for possible diversity.
Even in my short time in focusing and trying to make sense of music, arts and more in Frederick, I’ve seen places like this come and go. New Spire’s mission seems like a promise and it’s one we’ll all hope they can stick to.
The future of the space will be tested through their first few months of scheduled events. These events include album releases by locals like Stitch Early, National String Symphonia, Dancing Earth and more.
On to Sunday night’s grand opening event…
The place was absolutely packed and I know Saturday night was sold out. The space itself is quite nice. The lobby area has nice tables and seating for before performances and intermissions. The theatre space is intimate. The seats are fold-out chairs but with nice support;at this crowded event they were a little close together which caused me to accidentally back into someone’s knee as a few people filed in late and decided to sit beside where I was (one of the few places left). The organizers spoke about the improvements coming, which included seat risers for those in the back. That will be a great addition as the sight lines from the edges of the room made you peek around other’s heads. Other than that, everything was quite great, lighting-sound-and all.
The only downside I can see could be the ticket prices for music performances. Spaces like this need money to operate, and Frederick real estate isn’t cheap. For some reason though the music scene fluctuates in attendance. An event like The Thing (Frederick Music Festival) can be very successful, but bands playing on their own with a $5 cover charge at Café Nola or Guido’s, even stellar ones, draw a small crowd. HERE’S WHAT COULD HAPPEN WITH STAGES THOUGH – ALL AGES SHOWS! 21+ describes nearly every Frederick music venue for local musicians, so maybe New Spire stages will maintain a consistent draw because shows will be all ages and start earlier than 10 PM… It’s hard to go to a concert that starts at 10 PM and wraps up at 1 AM… even when you’re young.
The dancing and theatre performances were quite impressive and gave a feel as to how the space could be used. Nyle Dimarco gave an excellent presentation on his life story: growing up deaf, overcoming obstacles, his time on America’s Next Top Model and Dancing With The Stars, and the challenges that deaf people still face today.
There was a special energy in the room, maybe those Frederick residents who long for a lasting venue like this. There were many in the crowd who travelled quite a ways to see the show though, D.C-Baltimore-even Seattle!
So I leave you with this, Frederick…
It’s up to you to decide the fate of New Spire stages. Engage and get yourself out to events, give New Spire Arts feedback on how to improve. I have my reservations, but this could finally be the space that changes the Frederick scene.