New York’s classic venue Webster Hall, which will reopen this spring after a months-long renovation, has announced the first run of shows after its relaunch: Patti Smith and Her Band, Broken Social Scene, MGMT, Empire of the Sun, Old Dominion, Sharon Van Etten, Built to Spill, Real Estate, Chromeo and Big Thief are among the first musical acts confirmed to perform at the re-opened venue.
According to the announcement, the renovations at Webster Hall are aimed to preserve the iconic features of the venue while modernizing it to meet today’s entertainment standards and enhance the guest experience. The Lounge (formerly The Marlin Room) has been revamped to serve as a bar and meeting spot for ticketholders both before and after shows in the Grand Ballroom.
In the Grand Ballroom, the original stage remains, while acoustics were enhanced. Fans and artists returning to Webster Hall will notice other new features such as central air conditioning, expanded restrooms, additional stairwells for smoother entry and exit, and the venue’s first-ever elevator.
Behind the scenes, an artist compound was built with upgraded amenities to provide direct access to the Ballroom stage, creating a more comfortable and inviting environment for performers and their management. The venue’s basement level, formerly known as The Studio at Webster Hall, will also return, with more details to be announced at a later date.
Webster Hall, which has operated as a venue since 1886, has undergone several transformations over the past century. In the 1920s, Webster Hall notoriously held masquerade balls and was nicknamed the “Devil’s Playhouse.” RCA Records purchased Webster Hall in 1954 and renovated the venue to include a state-of-the-art acoustically treated ballroom. Notable artists who recorded in Webster Hall’s studio during this time included Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan (his recording debut), Harry Belafonte, Perry Como, Tony Bennett, and Julie Andrews.
Beginning in the 1980s, Webster Hall reemerged as “The Ritz,” hosting artists such as Eric Clapton with Keith Richards, U2, Tina Turner, The Beastie Boys, The Pretenders, Prince, Sting, Metallica, Aerosmith, KISS, B.B. King and Guns N’ Roses. In 2004, The Bowery Presents began booking Webster Hall with artists including LCD Soundsystem, The National, Modest Mouse, John Mayer and Keith Urban. BSE Global and The Bowery Presents, AEG Presents’ regional partner, acquired the operating rights and assets to Webster Hall in February 2017.
The architect of the revived venue is OTJ Architects, the contractor is Shawmut Design and Construction, and acoustic design is by L’Acoustics. Once open, Webster Hall will employ an estimated 70 people across various positions in the venue, between front of house and back of house, on any given event night.
“It has been an honor to undertake this project with AEG and The Bowery Presents, understanding how much Webster Hall means to the history of New York City and the music community,” said Brett Yormark, CEO of BSE Global. “Maintaining the integrity of this iconic venue has been of utmost priority throughout the entire renovation process, while ensuring that the enhancements modernize the venue for both the fans and the performers. It has been our intention to create a venue pipeline to our larger arenas and we are looking forward to the opportunities that Webster Hall will provide us.”
“Our collective goal was to ensure the history and legacy of this iconic theater while preserving its charm and character and creating an unequaled New York City concert experience for fans and performers,” said Jay Marciano, CEO of AEG Presents.
“After a decade-long relationship with the venue, The Bowery Presents is truly excited to return to Webster Hall now in both an operational and booking capacity alongside our new partners at BSE Global,” said John Moore and Jim Glancy, partners at The Bowery Presents.