CLIFTON PARK — Upstate Concert Hall is looking to move to Capital Repertory Theatre’s former venue on Albany’s North Pearl Street.
According to Upstate Concert Hall co-owner Stan Levinstone, who also runs SLP Concerts, the move would provide a bigger space and more opportunities, especially in terms of foot traffic.
“There’s nothing like being in downtown Albany,” Levinstone said.
Capital Rep’s former home at 111 North Pearl St. was purchased by Redburn Development in 2018. According to Upstate Concert Hall co-owner Ted Etoll, who also owns Step Up Presents, Redburn has purchased several buildings around the theater in Clinton Square over the last few years.
“Their vision was to have a club as the centerpiece of what they want to try to create; an entertainment district surrounded by apartments,” Etoll said.
The venue is under construction and in the coming months will be transformed from a more traditional theater to a “cool rock and roll space,” according to Etoll.
The change is a long time coming for Upstate Concert Hall, which has been in the strip mall on Route 146 since 1996 when it opened under the name Park West. It’s known for presenting a variety of bands and acts, from local favorites like Moriah Formica to international acts like The Struts and Machine Gun Kelly.
Since taking over the venue more than a decade ago, Levinstone and Etoll have made improvements, including new dressing rooms, a production room, etc. Yet, they said it’s been a tough location to be in at times.
“The problem with Clifton Park is that in the summer when SPAC goes up, it takes a lot of money out of the entertainment dollar. At least now we’re in a good place … It just has a lot of opportunities written all over it,” Levinstone said.
The new venue will have two performance spaces; the larger will have a capacity of around 1,300 and the smaller around 400, according to Levinstone. The expanded space — Upstate’s Clifton Park location has a 1,100 capacity — will give the venue a bit more flexibility.
“It’s going to make it easier to be able to do shows on all levels, even little bands and make it more comfortable for them,” Levinstone said.
The concert hall will join several other performing arts venues in downtown Albany, including the Palace Theatre, The Egg and the Times Union Center. While the hall will be smaller than most of those theaters, it could fill a different niche in the market. Levinstone hopes to throw after-shows so that when concert-goers get out of a show at the Palace or another downtown venue, they can head over to Upstate.
“We’re going to be able to do a million things there that we never have been able to do in Clifton Park … we’re going to be able to do, [the] pre-show parties, Empire parties, Alive at Five parties [etc.],” Etoll said.
Throughout the spring and summer, Upstate Concert Hall has had to postpone or cancel many of its concerts because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We had a lot of really good shows and the pandemic put an end to that pretty quickly,” Levinstone said.
However, even with the pandemic, the timing for the move is right, said Levinstone. When they’ll be able to officially open in the new space is unclear, partly because of the construction work that still needs to be done as well as the pandemic.
“When we’re going to be opening in full swing I have no idea, I don’t think anybody knows,” Levinstone said.