by Andrew Crisp
Boise has needed a mid-sized concert venue for some time—a place that could provide more space for acts too large for downtown Boise's Knitting Factory but too small for larger facilities like the Morrison Center or the Taco Bell Arena.
That's a niche former Big Easy owner Creston Thornton hopes to fill with the grand opening of the Revolution Concert House and Event Center at 4983 Glenwood St. The 2,200-capacity space hosted its first concert Aug. 22 with Eagles rocker Joe Walsh.
"I'm thinking, 'We're here in Garden City?'" Thornton told the crowd around 8 p.m., before Walsh and his band took the stage. "But we got Joe Walsh coming to Garden City! This isn't like the Big Easy, anybody remember that place?"
Thornton gestured to the massive space, which occupies a portion of a strip mall across from Expo Idaho.
Inside, a large balcony constructed to overlook the stage snaked out over the main floor. In one corner, a mammoth bar served four or five patrons at a time. The line at the bar moved quickly, with mixed drinks in small plastic cups available for $6. Three draft Bud Lights set us back $15, with craft beer like Ninkasi's Total Domination IPA available for $6. Soda and water were available from a separate booth in a different corner.
Though colorful red sconces and guitars added decoration to the walls, the main floor largely retained a department store feel as the two large screens flanking the stage displayed music videos of rock greats like ZZ Top and Whitesnake before the lights went down. During the performance, two other screens showed slideshows to accompany Walsh's songs behind the stage. Unfortunately, the light from the bathrooms, which were opposite a small separating wall from the stage, was distracting. And though the stage was sometimes hard to see from the floor's midpoint, jockeying for a view wasn't any more difficult than at the Knitting Factory.
Parking at the venue was a breeze, both when we pulled in just after 7 p.m, and when we left around 10 p.m. My companion remarked it was the first time she had seen the parking lot approaching capacity. Riding a bicycle to the venue, however, could prove more difficult.
But for all of Revolution Concert House's well-executed attempts to class up the space, the adjacent environment lacks downtown Boise's other city amenities. Near only fast-food vendors, a crumbling Stinker Station and Chinden Boulevard, the Revolution may prove a tough sell for walk-ups and last-minute concert-goers.
Future acts include George Thorogood and The Destroyers, Alice Cooper, DJ Aoki and a live performance from the Food Network's Robert Irvine.