Saturday, April 13, 2013

Hang Outs - Central Florida Venues Pt. I


Hang Outs - Central Florida Venues
By Joshua Jimenez

If you have been climbing at Aiguille for some time now then you are familiar with its, now bi-monthly, Aiguille After Darks: an end of the month event where new routes are put up and we turn the lights down low and the music up for some all around good climbing with good beats. In this months article, I won’t be going over rock climbing but focusing on the music this time around. Part one will focus on the three largest music venues that Central Florida has to offer. So for those who are looking to continue the dancing after a night of climbing at Aiguille then continue on reading.


For many, living in Orlando and its surrounding areas, hearing about the theme parks is as often heard as seeing rain and sunshine in the same day. But sometimes hearing about the Hard Rock Live at Universals Citywalk isn’t as often heard. Reopened in late 1998 after being re-located, the Hard Rock Cafe at Universal Citywalk houses the Hard Rock Live where many groups, bands, and even comedians have come to perform. Ranging from comedian Demetri Martin to pop rock band Weezer and even Anthony Bourdain, from the travel channel who will be there later this month, this venue is no stranger to big name events. The Postal Service will be playing there in June and their show sold out the same day the tickets went on sale! Being able to easily fit more people in a single night than Aiguille could fit in a standard weekend, it does so well with ease with a main floor plus a seated balcony to watch just about any show from any angle.

Now as for the actual music part, watching shows at the Hard Rock does it job well. They are in the business of music and they know how to deliver whether it be a hardcore metal show or just a laid back indie band. For those who don’t like to be in the middle of the action there is the balcony or just the areas around the large panoramic bar with a motorcycle in the middle. If you are a music fan wanting to hang out in popular part of town then the Hard Rock Live is the place to go. This venue does usually cater to more of the bigger name artists so be ready to be around quite an eclectic group of people from all over.

Heading a bit further southwest we come to a personal favorite, the House of Blues. Located at the Downtown Disney Market Place, it sits right next to the lovely white building of the Cirque du Soleil. The House of Blues has seen quite the number of shows since opening in 1997. My first real concert was here as well as the biggest shows I’ve ever seen. Ranging from sold out shows of Girl Talk to punk band Rise Against. This venue has always been a personal favorite. And not just because of the number of shows I’ve been to though, but more in part to the atmosphere of being in Disney. Even being outside of an actual park but still being on Disney property brings a magical atmosphere that you feel as you walk around the shops and restaurants in the Marketplace. From window shopping at the Lego Store to looking at how they make caramel apples to the newly opened bowling alley. Downtown Disney has more to offer without having to go to the large parks like Universal does and does so with free parking.

House of Blues Orlando
To the actual venue itself, the two story barn-like structure will always be playing a good beat. Two long bars on both the first and second floor may have overpriced drinks but they are a nice place to replenish your energy after dancing your pumped body out on the “pit” they have. The music played at the House of Blues usually delves more towards the underground scene but still big names. And even then, sold out shows are not uncommon. If you aren’t used to being around 2,100 people in one big barn, then this is not the place for you, but if you’re here for the music then who cares. Even with this, the group of people showing up to these shows will be a bit more centralized and more likely to be the kind of people you would expect to go see to any particular show you attend there.

The Beacham Orlando
Heading back up to downtown Orlando, we come across what may be the oldest venue in Central Florida, The Beacham. Opened in 1921, it started as a theatre touting famed vaudeville acts. But it has had quite the history as well. Starting in 1936 it became a full time movie theatre and then in 1964 becoming a Cinerama theatre. Cinerama being a curved screen with three projectors to get the biggest image possible before Imax was invented. A few years later it became the Great Southern Music Hall. By the early 1980s it had closed down and sat empty for many years and even had plans of being demolished with the demolition permit being in the hands of the owner around the end of 1988. Around the mid 2000s the name changed again and it became Club Tabu where finally that leads us to the present.

Animal Collective Playing at The Beacham
 In 2011, the Beacham returned restored to its original historic yet state of the art music venue. And now it hosts some more big name artists like 50 cent, Good Charlotte, and EDM artists such as Benny Benassi and Armin Van Buren. Its ability to host 1,250 people at once makes for quite the show on both the dance floor and the balcony. With four bars, two of them being “islands” and the other two being literally next to the stage, you can never be to far from getting your hands on a beverage without missing a beat. The music quality here is also top notch with almost every night having some sort of event going on whether it be an actual show or a dance night for the late night crowd. The Beacham is also in collaboration with its next door neighbor The Social. I will be going over that venue in next months issue.

All three of these venues fit large crowds of people with both an upper balcony and a main floor, but during events the main floors may be so packed that going up to the upper levels seems like the best idea. Just be cautious of which venue you attend in order to see what the seating will be like. For the most part House of Blues balcony is always open. With two staircases on either side as well as an outside patio on the upper level to catch some fresh air. The Beacham and Hard Rock Live are a bit different in terms of how they go about allowing people on their upper balcony. For a large percentage of shows, the cost is increased if you want to sit or hang out in the upper balcony. Usually because it’ll be for VIP access or for some other private events during the regular show. The Beacham's balcony is usually closed for smaller shows but when bigger names come around, the price is sometimes double of what being on the floor would be. Same goes for the balcony seating at the Hard Rock Live, but here it becomes even more exclusive. So for anyone wanting to get away from the mass of people and want to sit back and relax to watch a show, then the balcony at three of these venues will easily suffice. That is if you have the money for that sort of thing.

These three venues all have their ups and downs. I wanted to go over just their ups because no place should ever have a down when listening to music. Whether you listen to music at Aiguille at the After Dark or just blast your own beats in your car, sometimes seeing your favorite group live requires the right place to see them. Always choose wisely and keep an open mind for not just what you’ll hear but also who you’ll see at your next show.

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