First Look Inside Port City Music Hall

The Port City Music Hall at 504 Congress Street is gearing up for their first event this weekend. As I’ve mentiond before, there’s been a lot of speculation about exactly what this new venue will bring to the Portland music scene. The initial schedule hints at a diverse range of music, including reggae, indie rock, jams bands, and everything in between. The venue’s publicist was kind enough to show me around earlier this week, so I could get a behind-the-scenes look at the space before the doors open to the public.

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Let’s start at the beginning. Full tour with photos after the jump!

Designer Joshua Bergey and venue owner Rob Evon (who will be featured on WCSH Channel 6’s “207” tonight, Wednesday, 1/14, at 7 pm) discussing the progress. The wall behind them was hand-stenciled, not wallpaper. Overall the interior will have a theme of blue walls and decorations, along with vintage (70’s style) furniture – yet to be placed.

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This is the front of the building, looking out onto Congress Street. The windows will be used for display/exhibits for the time being, but have potential for a wide variety of uses (obviously with a focus on promoting events at the venue.)

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The front lounge/main bar area, looking back towards the performance space. Behind the bar is the DJ booth, with potential for other creative uses including smaller/acoustic performances.

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This is the money shot. The performance space. 660 capacity, full bar, raised area with standing tables, etc. Obviously the sound and lighting equipment (as well as monitor mixing area and stage decoration) still have yet to be installed. Here’s where we ask the big question: Is this the mid-sized live music venue that Portland needs? Will it fill the hole left by the closing of the State Theater?

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At this point, it looks like it just might be. Of course it’s going to depend on the booking and the size of crowds and following that turns up, but they seem to be headed in the right direction. I got to chat with Rob a bit about their booking and direction, and (not entirely to my surprise) it seems that their intentions lean less towards something like the Asylum and more towards this. Bringing bigger national acts to Portland would definitely benefit everybody, especially if they come back again, and the support acts like it and come back, maybe even playing some of the smaller venues themselves. All in all, it’s looking promising right now.

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Here is the backstage area, heading up the stairs to the offices and green room. Performers have a long hallway from here that runs all the way down the length of the venue to provide direct access to the stage without having to push through the crowd. Important on busy nights.

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Some of the office space to be used for publicity, management, and production needs.

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The green room, where performers can relax and prepare for their show. Full bathroom and wardrobe area included! There is also access to a private outdoor roofdeck for special events (meet-and-greets, parties, etc) next to this room.

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A few views of one of the basement/lower level areas. Currently being used as storge for some of the furniture that will eventually be placed throughout the venue, it may become another performance/multi-use space.

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Finally, the bathrooms will be located through this room, which will have a few pool tables and provide an escape from the crowds upstairs during busy shows. It seems like that could be a little inconvenient, having the only available restrooms so far from where the action is.

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You can see much larger versions of all of these photos in this gallery.

They still have quite a bit of work ahead of them before Saturday’s opening, but I’m sure they’ll get it all done – or at least enough to make it work. I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes a couple months to get all of the final touches nailed down (for instance, the facade, which is nowhere in sight quite yet). Shows will generally be 18+, and it sounds like they may try to incorporate some food in the future. You can buy tickets for the first show right here. See you there.