Arts & Entertainment, etc. and Venues and Performing Arts and Events and Tourism & Hospitality

Live Nation quietly unveils downtown basement venue

December 28, 2011

Concert promoter Live Nation has yet to set a grand opening for Deluxe, its new 500-capacity venue inside the Old National Centre in downtown Indianapolis, but local managers already are booking acts.

Deluxe and an adjacent 1940s-style lounge, the Amber Room, have New Year’s Eve shows on the calendar, but it might be after the Super Bowl before Live Nation makes a big to-do about the venue.

“We want to make sure when it’s open that it’s right,” said Terry Hennessey, executive director for the Old National Centre. Live Nation renamed the building, formerly the Murat Centre, in March of 2010 under a three-year deal with Evansville-based Old National Bank.

Live Nation created the new rooms this fall out of existing private-event spaces in the basement of the building.

“We were looking to make best use of what we had, which was some gorgeous rooms in the building,” Hennessey said.

The move comes as concert promoters find more success with smaller venues. Last summer, Beverly Hills-based Live Nation scaled back its bookings in giant outdoor amphitheaters, including at the former Verizon Wireless Music Center, now Klipsch Music Center, in Noblesville. Meanwhile, The Lawn at White River, a smaller outdoor venue that seats 7,500, hosted the most shows since Live Nation took over booking there eight years ago.

Hennessey would not comment on whether the same trend drove Live Nation to add Deluxe to the Old National Centre, which also houses the 2,000-capacity Egyptian Room and 2,500-seat Murat Theatre.

Hennessey said the changes make Old National Centre a “complete complex.” The Amber Room, which he compared to the Foundation Room at House of Blues, gives concertgoers a place to drink after shows, he said.

Live Nation hired local DJs and promoters Slater Hogan and John Larner to book shows and manage both rooms. Once Deluxe is in full swing, Hennessey said, he’s looking to have it booked three times a week, 48 weeks a year.

Local band Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s is on tap for New Year’s Eve, followed by City and Colour on Feb. 8 and Dr. Dog on March 14.

Never heard of them? That’s the idea. Hogan said he’s looking for musicians who are gaining recognition in other cities but haven’t caught on yet in Indianapolis.

Deluxe fills a gap between area bars such as Radio Radio that hold fewer than 250 and larger clubs such as The Vogue in Broad Ripple, which holds about 1,000.

In a smaller room, Hogan said, it’s easier to “make a party look hot.”

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