The Beaumont Club in Westport hasn't officially shuttered itself and declared itself closed, but the end is likely impending. Promoters have already moved one show on its schedule to another venue: The Jan. 16 Take Action Tour, featuring the Used, has been moved to the Granada in Lawrence. Three more shows are still listed at its web site, but those will most likely be moved, too. An official statement is still pending.
The place was far from perfect as a live music venue. If it was too crowded the sight lines were poor; if it was under-populated the sight lines were good but the sound usually suffered and the place looked and felt half-full. In July, after a Sleigh Bells show in which the sound was brutally offensive, a score of local sound engineers weighed-in on the room and its issues. (Go here.)
Under the right conditions, the sound guys could get it right. This is from a review of the Missy Higgins show in September, by our reviewer Joel Francis: "The sound in the Beaumont Club — a venue long notorious for muddy mixes and inaudible vocals — was pristine. Each instrument was both audible and in perfect balance in the mix."
But the place faced issues bigger than sound. The Beaumont is one of three local venues built to draw crowds in the 1,500-plus range. The others: the Uptown Theater; and the Midland, managed by entertainment titan AEG Live. Over the past several years, the three have been competing fiercely for shows in an economy that is static at best. On top of that, the Beaumont, which has been the haven for live country music, has had to compete with the free Hot Country Nights series on the Kansas City Live stage in the Power and Light District. Another blow: it was limited in its ability to book events in its outoor space, the Back Yard, so it suffered in the summer months, when most bands want to play outdoors.
Still, the Beaumont could draw crowds and put on good shows. This year's Hammerween show drew about 1,200 hard-rock fans. And a Snow Patrol show in April drew about 1,600.
More than three years ago, the club closed temporarily and canceled some shows (read here) as it went through some management restructuring. But it eventually reopened. Unless someone swoops in to takeover or the place gets an 11-hour reprieve, that's not likely to happen soon.
| Timothy Finn, The Star