Live Nation will open a new music venue in New Orleans in early 2019. The Fillmore at Harrah’s New Orleans, a 2,200-capacity music hall, will fill the long-vacant second floor of Harrah’s Casino.
The Fillmore New Orleans is the eighth location in the Live Nation music hall chain named after the late Bill Graham’s Fillmore West in San Francisco.
Like the other Fillmores, the Fillmore New Orleans will present an eclectic music schedule. Many of the acts previously skipped New Orleans because the city lacked a suitably sized club for them, said Ron Bension, president of Live Nation’s clubs and theaters division.
“We always felt we could bring more music to the New Orleans market,” Bension said. “It’s a vibrant market, but most of the venues are on the smaller side. We’re excited about being able to bring bands that historically bypassed New Orleans.”
Although New Orleans already has the 2,600-capacity Saenger and 2,200-capacity Mahalia Jackson theaters, those are fixed-seating venues. And the Saenger is often booked with touring musicals that run multiple days. The club-oriented Fillmore music hall will combine general admission standing-room attendance and reserved seating. Other features include two large bars, two elevated VIP areas and unreserved bleachers seating in the back of the hall. “It’s not just a flat floor,” Bension said. “We really focus on sightlines.”
The Fillmore’s 2,200-person club configuration exceeds other New Orleans venues that mix standing and seating, including the Joy, Orpheum and Civic theaters and Live Nation’s own House of Blues.
“We’re going to be 500 to 700 higher in capacity than the next guy,” Bension said. “That makes a difference to bands that would normally rather go to another market than play for 1,200 people. House of Blues (in New Orleans) is only 850, so it’s a big leap up from there.”
Ben Weeden, chief operating officer for Live Nation’s clubs and theaters, cited Khalid, Jack White, Miguel and Dropkick Murphys as examples of the acts that sidestepped New Orleans to play larger venues in similarly sized cities.
“In some of our other markets,” Weeden said, “where we have the 2,500-capacity rooms, we’re doing 70 to 100 shows year. So, there’s a lot of opportunity here in New Orleans and we have a built-in pipeline.” Weeden anticipates 60 to 70 shows a year at the Fillmore New Orleans.
“We have the chance to bring everything we know about live music venues to this new venue in New Orleans,” Bension said. “We will have a state of the art sound system and lighting system.”