239 West 52nd Street
between Broadway & 8th Avenue
Subways: A, B, C, D, E, 1
If you're trying to catch any exceptionally large band on a national tour who hasn't quite reached the arena circuit yet, chances are you'll be going to Roseland.
As the name implies, Roseland was once a grand ballroom, catering to the swing kids of Gotham in days gone by. Nowadays, Roseland serves as a premiere concert venue and event hall, changing it's face daily. The space itself is exceptionally long and deep, so if you attend a sold-out show, you may be fighting to get a good view of the band you are there to see. On the upside, the general admission scheme only limits your proximity to the bands to your ambition and gall.
Although the space is configurable to the event, most concerts are laid out as follows.
When you enter, you'll probably be frisked or subjected to metal detectors, depending on the event you are there for. A friend said that at a Fishbone concert he attended, security was specifically frisking for marijuana. You'll pass through a second set of doors, where tickets are collected. Directly to your right is usually a table set up for merchandise, band shirts, etc... A stairway beyond leads down to the restrooms and coat check, surrounding an oval room with impressively modern and retro decor, if it's empty enough to see clearly.
Back on the main floor, beyond the stairway lies the main bar. Drinks are expensive, so be prepared. Beyond the bar are more stairs downstairs. At the opposite end of the room is usually the stage. I've seen it set up long, rather than deep, for the Black & Blue fetish Ball, and the NYC Tattoo Convention. Usually, for concerts the stage remains at the far end, facing the length of the hall. Along the left side of the wall is a row of couches, built into the wall. At the end of the left wall is a bar/restaurant, which may or not be open, depending on the event. There is generally a fenced-off area directly in front of the stage, where security picks off would-be stage divers. At the back of the hall, a short fence divides the "floor" from a small lounge area for the bar, which may or may not have tables & chairs set up. The lightshow is probably the best in the city; greatly improving the experience of any show seen there.
Sound quality varies according to the artist, who usually bring their own sound engineer, but I've heard some stunning mixes in the room. If you check out the decor on the walls and ceiling, you can catch some glimpses of classic Gotham stylings from the swing era.
Like any big concert experience, things move much more smoothly if you let the staff do their job with minimal resistance. Unlike some nightclubs, the security absolutely does NOT care if you are the High Priestess of the Coven of the Sith. You still have to play by the rules. Tickets are almost always available through Ticketmaster, outlets at Tower Records, J&R Music World, and most Rite-Aid locations, as well as the Irving Plaza Box office 17 Irving Place at 15th Street.
Commentary by Kerry Smith, Thursday, June 11, 1998.
|Illustration by Kurt Komoda|