Year Three For Terminal 5

When a New York City club that didn’t exist three years ago showed up as No. 3 on the latest Top 100 Worldwide Club Venues, we had to take notice.

That’s above names like The Fillmore, The Wiltern and every House of Blues in the country other than the one in Boston. It became a running joke in this office to ask, “What’s Terminal 5?”

Of course, plenty of agents, artists and production crews are familiar with the venue by now. The 3,000-capacity facility opened in the New York island of Manhattan in the fall of 2007 and has become the new room for up-and-coming acts.

Photo: Greg Allen/
Terminal 5, New York City.

It is also the “next step” for Bowery Presents, which manages a series of well-known venues in the NYC area – the 250-capacity Mercury Lounge, the 500-capacity Bowery Ballroom, the 600-capacity Music Hall of Williamsburg and the 1,400-capacity Webster Hall.

Terminal 5 is just the next in the progression, according to Bowery Presents partners Jim Glancy and John Moore. The company that brought emerging acts to the Mercury and gave them larger rooms to play now has something to give them once they outgrow Webster.

That means acts like the skyrocketing electronic group Passion Pit, which Bowery promoted at its smaller venues, can play to 3,000 fans not one night, but three. In fact, Terminal 5 is accustomed to hosting runs, with Coheed & Cambria playing four nights in a row, and Girl Talk and The Raconteurs each doing three.

Vampire Weekend recently had the No. 1 record in the country,” Glancy noted, “but in 2008 we did three nights with them, which is 9,000 tickets. And they sold out in advance, without any advertising.”

Bowery found what would become Terminal 5 in the fall of 2007, but Moore and Glancy were quick to point out that it had nothing to do with location. There’s access to public transportation and it’s close to the ’burbs but, really, “Finding square footage in New York to accommodate 3,000 people, in Manhattan? We’re just fortunate,” Glancy said.

Bowery put in a Clair sound system, lights from BML Stage Lighting, made sure the sightlines were great and opened the doors, hosting acts like Justice, MIA and The National. The crew spent a few months ironing out the rough patches but Moore said the glitches were taken care of pretty quickly.

Terminal 5 isn’t the only building in NYC with this level of capacity. Of course, the partners at Bowery did say that a lot of the reason why Terminal 5 is successful has to do with treating the patrons well, and noted there are concessions and bathrooms on all of the three floors, plus a massive smoking area on the roof. But that wasn’t what they stressed.

Photo: AP Photo
Terminal 5, New York City

“There are no facility charges, restoration fees or any of that shit,” Glancy said. “Our Ticketmaster fees – well, Live Nation Entertainment now – are a fraction of our competitors’. When it comes time for us to stack our offer up against others, dollar-for-dollar bands are making more with us on a cheaper ticket price. … A $20 to $22 ticket can be bought for $25 rather than $40. And guess what? If you’re trying to develop young talent, that’s the only way to do it, in my opinion.”

There are also two no-fee box offices in New York and Brooklyn. And Bowery believes a lot of the success has to do with treating the bands and their crews right, which doesn’t mean giving the road crew “a better burger” on the catering tray. Rather, it means hiring a dedicated GM, production manager and promoter rep – veterans of Bowery’s other buildings, making sure load-in is a “piece of cake” and advancing the shows properly, which Glancy acknowledged sounds cliché but is still extremely important to getting the acts to return.

“The production people aren’t walking away saying, ‘I don’t care how much the band made, that place sucked,’” Glancy said.

The venue has been branching out from the up-and-comers. On the books are Trey Anastasio, Pat Green, Alice In Chains, Opeth and The Specials, to name a few.

Click here for the Terminal 5 Web site.