Houston Warehouse Goes Live

In late January, Houston’s new 1,750-capacity Warehouse Live is expected to open, buttressed by some of the biggest names in the biz – including two generations of the Becker and Messina families.

An 80-year-old warehouse in the industrial area of Houston is currently being converted into a multi-functional venue owned primarily by production veteran Brent Silberstein. He has the backing of former Pace Concerts co-founder Allen Becker and son Gary Becker, who is the brother of former Clear Channel Entertainment CEO Brian Becker. The venue will be promoted exclusively by The Messina Group, with Louis’ son Jeff Messina as talent buyer.

A media launch is expected to take place before the end of the year, but a recent article in the Houston Business Journal – a story that originally was supposed to have a real estate angle but turned into a feature on the venue – sort of blew everybody’s cover.

That’s fine with Silberstein, who is content with free press. He said he’s already getting calls from agents anyway.

“We would take tour managers and the bands to lunch, then we’d take them through the building when they were in town,” Silberstein told Pollstar.

The tour managers would invariably then report back to the various agencies about the new digs.

Silberstein got his start at Pace in the mid-’80s when he was in high school. Pace co-founder Louis Messina says Silberstein wanted to open a venue like Warehouse Live ever since.

The former Pace employee went on to be a production manager, working with Britney Spears, Fleetwood Mac and others, and became operations manager at Houston’s Agora Ballroom (now Verizon Wireless Theater) in 1997.

Around the time of this year’s Super Bowl, Silberstein stumbled upon a warehouse near The Messina Group’s office.

“I walked into this 34,000-square-foot building. I popped the ceiling tile off and noticed there was a tall, wooden, high-vaulted ceiling with beautiful trussing, and I knew immediately what it could be used for,” he said.

He met with Allen and Gary Becker, who signed on. The next step was talking to Louis and Jeff Messina and “the grins on their faces were so big, you knew it was a home run.”

Silberstein said he has come “full circle,” now working side-by-side with his former boss.

“So here are three of the younger generation,” he said. “From what started as a grassroots, concert promoter family organization based out of Houston, here’s the second generation coming into play. It’s exciting, no question.”

Jeff Messina said he and Silberstein had been looking for a room this size for a long time.

“We’re seeing fewer arena sellouts right now,” Messina told Pollstar. “A lot of smaller acts aren’t making it beyond the club or theatre level these days. We have built a venue that will cater to this artist and be somewhere the fans will really have a good chance to see these developing acts.”

The venue is also built to attract private parties and there’s already talk of hosting an NBA All-Star game event. The Messina Group is also looking at sporting events such as boxing matches and roller derby, as well as other alternative entertainment.

Investors have chipped in about $1.3 million for the venture, according to the Business Journal, and Silberstein said more than $400,000 was put into lights and sound. Inspired by Dallas’ Gypsy Tea Room, the floor is divided into two rooms by a 30-foot bar. Each room will have its own stage, dressing room and bathrooms. A panel above the bar can be removed, converting Warehouse Live into one larger space.

Joe Reinartz