With all the outdoor excitement of Market Days, it can be easy to overlook some things that might be going on indoors during the festival weekend. One thing you don’t want to sleep on, though, is the grand opening of the new Bank of New Hampshire Stage on South Main Street on Saturday.
The former Concord Theatre, once used as a movie house, has been transformed into a modern, hip, club-like music venue that aims to attract a younger audience. A project of the Capitol Center for the Arts, this venue is meant to have a different identity and feel than the larger venue just down the street.
Getting things started with the first-ever show at the Bank of NH Stage will be Boston-based musician Ed Balloon. Nominated in the 2018 Boston Music Awards for Live Artist of the Year, R&B Artist of the Year and Dance/Electronic Artist of the Year, Balloon is a performer with a unique blend of R&B, electronic, pop and hip-hop combined with Nigerian roots. He performs with a full band and one-of-a-kind dance moves.
Opening for Balloon will be Bosey Joe, a Concord-based group fronted by Aaron Jones, aka Mr. Aaron, one of Concord’s favorite kid-focused musicians.
The idea for the new stage is to feature more up-and-coming and local acts, whereas the larger Capitol Center for the Arts aims for nationally recognized acts. The result is cheaper shows, and the hope is that the selection of acts, the lower ticket prices, the later start times – Balloon will go on at 10 p.m. on Saturday – and the convenient downtown location will attract the 20- and 30-something crowds.
The Bank of NH Stage features several unique and attractive features, perhaps none more so than the lounge/bar area upstairs. Behind the balcony seating section is an area where patrons can hang out before a show and grab a drink. This area has big windows looking down over Main Street, across from Red River Theatres. There’s also space up there for smaller, cafe-style performances that will be scheduled from time to time. The bar will also serve food, and unlike many theaters, you will be allowed to take your food and drinks with you to your seats.
The venue has a very unique aesthetic as well. Tribute is paid to all the former uses of the building with the bare walls. Rather than board up and paint over the old brick, the auditorium highlights this brick as one of the main features. Chipped, cracked, faded paint from bygone eras can be seen along the walls, giving the place a sense of character without the feel of a dump or a place that’s simply been neglected.
Another feature you won’t find anywhere else in Concord is the retractable seating. Beneath the balcony is a large section of stadium-style seating, and these seats all pull out of the wall like your old high school gym bleachers (only way nicer and infinitely more comfortable to sit on). With the push of a button, the seats can either retract into the wall to leave the floor wide open for various events or pull out for a full seated audience. While you probably won’t witness this happening, it’s cool to know that within a few minutes this place can change from a lecture hall to a dance hall, without anyone having to lift, slide or scrape anything.
Tickets are sold for either balcony ($25) or general admission ($15), and there were still a few tickets available as of Monday. For tickets and more info about the Ed Balloon show and the venue in general, go to ccanh.com, the Capitol Center for the Arts’s website.