In the most recent salvo in the venue battle for New York between AEG and Live Nation, Bowery Presents is parting company with the two venues that put it on the map, Bowery Ballroom and Mercury Lounge.
Sources say that Live Nation will be taking over booking and marketing of both venues, which are owned by Bowery cofounder Michael Swier, who parted ways with Bowery Presents in 2010 — although another source speculated to Variety that that Live Nation may be acquiring the venues and not just booking them. The news was first reported by Brooklyn Vegan.
“After careful thought and consideration, The Bowery Presents is parting ways with The Bowery Ballroom and Mercury Lounge,” Bowery Presents cofounder John Moore said in a statement. “We have a long history with the venues as the exclusive booking and marketing arm and wish them well in the future. On the heels of our recently opened Brooklyn Steel, the largest GA room in Brooklyn, and taking over booking duties for Webster Hall, we are constantly exploring new opportunities for music-lovers in New York City. Stay tuned for more announcements from The Bowery Presents very soon!”
A rep from Live Nation declined Variety’s request for comment.
The fact that Bowery Ballroom will no longer be associated with Bowery Presents is only the most obvious confusing factor in a tangled history. Moore and Swier cofounded Bowery Presents in 2004; Jim Glancy joined in an ownership role in 2006. Swier was bought out of Presents in 2010 but continued to own Bowery Ballroom and Mercury Lounge while Presents booked both venues; Swier also opened the Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles in 2015.
AEG Live finalized its acquisition of Bowery Presents earlier this year, which also includes Terminal 5, Rough Trade, Music Hall of Williamsburg and the new venue Brooklyn Steel, which launched in April with a powerful opening blast of shows that includes multiple nights from LCD Soundsystem as well as PJ Harvey, Nas, Slowdive and others. AEG’s footprint in New York has also been grown in recent years with the addition of Webster Hall (which it operates in partnership with Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment), Playstation Theater and Forest Hills Stadium.
While Bowery Ballroom and Mercury Lounge are comparatively small rooms (575 and 250 capacity, respectively), their influence on New York City’s independent music scene is enormous.
Another source tells Variety that Bowery Presents is in early discussions involving a new, “intimate” venue of the approximate size of Bowery Ballroom.