Knitting Factory Moving From Manhattan To Brooklyn, Boise, Spokane

anthonyjmiccio | July 10, 2008 3:45 am

When you think of the Knitting Factory, do you think of things like “Manhattan” and “avant-jazz-punk-rap-slam-whatever-else-M-Doughty-does-now?” Well, don’t. In order to keep afloat, the company is moving towards keywords like “Boise” and “Elton John.” Not only is the NYC club moving from TriBeCa to the much smaller former home of the Luna Lounge in Williamsburg, the Knitting Factory is in danger of losing its’ LA location’s building-use permit. If it wasn’t for the 2006 purchase of Boise, Idaho’s Bravo Entertainment, which promotes large amphitheater performances throughout the Northwest, the company would lose over half of its annual revenue. Knitting Factory president Jared Hoffman swears that putting on Puddle Of Mudd shows in South Dakota will help the company regain its footing, but with so much of the club’s identity lost over the years, its hard to tell what exactly is being kept alive aside from the brand name.

“The Knitting Factory has struggled to define itself ever since it lost its emphasis as a center for avant-garde jazz,” said Tom Windish, a booking agent whose roster includes indie stars like Animal Collective, Hot Chip and Justice. “The quality of the lineups went down as the distance from their roots increased.”

In New York competition for bookings has grown fierce with the rise of a turf war among the dominant concert promoters, Live Nation and The Bowery Presents, leaving less powerful clubs squeezed out.

…The programming in Boise and Spokane is more conservative than in New York and Los Angeles, mixing alternative acts like Otep and the Faint with decidedly mainstream offerings like Ted Nugent and Puddle of Mudd. Mr. Hoffman said his goal was to “continue to expand into the heartland” with more concerts and more clubs, and to use the Knitting Factory’s reputation to draw acts through its clubs in the Northwest.

…The Williamsburg location, which Mr. Hoffman said he hoped to open in “four to nine months,” will bring the club closer to a young audience long ago priced out of Lower Manhattan.

And to develop new acts it is deliberately getting smaller. As part of the renovations of the Luna Lounge, Mr. Hoffman said, capacity will be reduced, to lessen the pressure to draw big audiences every night, and bring the Knitting Factory back to its roots as a club that could take risks.

“In very exciting ways it would be a return to the old Knitting Factory,” he said. “We want to do something smaller and more radical and more revolutionary again.”

The idea of funding “more revolutionary” stuff through a larger scale operation is an admirable one, but if things don’t go as well as hoped, one would assume that more arcane, less profitable side of the Knitting Factory will fall before the branch that’s trying to compete with the Fillmore and LiveNation.

For Knitting Factory, Westward Ho (Brooklyn, Too) [NYT]