"Save the Last Dance for Me"
It's true. It's true. It's sad.
So much hype has revolved around Louisville Gardens lately, while much is still unknown about its future plans. A hefty price tag of 3 million dollars is all it takes to end a little piece of history in the city of Louisville, it seems. Concertgoers, event coordinators and even wrestling fans are left in the dust of disappointment as the Gardens closes its doors.
The final happening at the late, great venue was on June 27, appropriately titled "The Last Dance." This Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) and World Wrestling Federation (WWF) partnered extravaganza brought in such figures as The Undertaker, "Y2J" Chris Jericho and The Big Show. In addition to these current stars, some icons of the past were on hand. Jimmy Valiant, Bill "Superstar" Dundee and Rocky "Soulman" Johnson (father to WWF's The Rock) were in attendance.
The wrestling event was the last of a more than 30-year-long stint of big guys punching each other's lights out in the Gardens. Now that is tradition. This, however, is comparably younger than the venue's 75-year-long history. The Armory - The Gardens - Louisville Gardens - whatever you know it as - will no longer be the same after its corporate facelift. Honestly, I do not know who the buyer is, or what exactly will be done with the place, but the rumors are scary. I have heard everything from new office space to a home for hockey. Regardless, music, I am afraid, has left the building permanently
So no big deal, right?
Any Pantera fans reading my column today? Where do you think they will come now? (Granted, I thought their last show here was a little under par, but that does not mean that I would not like to see them in Louisville for the rest of eternity.) They could go to Freedom Hall, right? Probably not. They do not even sell out the Gardens, which is a smaller venue. It would be silly to take on Freedom Hall if the support is not there. So let's go smaller... the Palace Theater. Hmmm... no. Plush seats are not beer and sweat resistant, nor are they mosh pit proof. So that leaves us with Headliner's. Simply too small.
All these venues are great in their own way, but you see where I am going with this. There has been a lack of what I would call "in-betweener" venues in Louisville for music for quite some time. The loss of the Toy Tiger was a tragedy to bands like Fear Factory, which is in fame's limbo stage, floating between famous and not-so-famous. The same goes for the Gardens. There are many bands who will now turn their back on Louisville when it comes time for tour planning, simply because there is not a venue size that accommodates their fan base.
What does this do for music in Louisville? It limits it. We will continue to bring in the Christina Havebadhairas at Freedom Hall and the local house bands that play the same place on a daily basis, but out goes the really borderline bands that are often instrumental in defining music.
The very first concert I ever reviewed for Louisville Music News was Tori Amos at Louisville Gardens in October of '98. I guess I am kind of partial to the place for that, and for other reasons. It is/was just a great venue, and I hate to see it go away from the music. The responsibility, like it or not, goes on the current club owners to step it up a notch and keep the national scene alive here in Louisville. If you thought you were doing well before, do better now. The citizens who love music in this town will appreciate it. We have some really great places in this city that bring lesser-drawing national acts our way occasionally: Headliner's, Jillian's, Phoenix Hill and now Tek World as well.
I want to know your thoughts on this situation with the Gardens! Send me your stories about bands you have seen at Louisville Gardens, or even other events like wresting or paint sniffing or whatever to JJKSLACKER@cs.com to be considered for print in a future column.
I am a little out of the loop on current events right now, so I want to keep it short this month. My vacation has seriously set my internal clock to snooze. I am getting ready for a show this Friday, at a secret venue. Why is it a secret? Email me if you want to find out more...
As always, rock on, Louisville!