Arts & Culture » Culture

A Knitting Factory-Sized Hole

How Boise music venues are accommodating music acts after a devastating fire

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When Boise Weekly caught up with Destiny Williams, the theater manager at The Egyptian Theatre, she was in the process of rejiggering the historic stage between Andy Grammer's Nov. 1 performance and the Nov. 2 premiere of the motocross film Moto 10.

"It was really wonderful to see so many parents bringing their kids to a show," she said about Grammer's performance the night before.

Grammer is currently on his The Good Parts tour in support of his 2017 album of the same name, but he wasn't originally slated to play at The Egyptian. Had it not been for a devastating fire, he would have played at The Knitting Factory. Since the Sept. 11 blaze, a multitude of shows that would have played at the BoDo venue have been redirected to spots like Revolution Concert House, The Olympic, Neurolux, The Reef, the Nampa Civic Center and The Egyptian.

Williams, who is something of a Jane of all trades at The Egyptian—installing new track lighting, tearing down and building up stages, and occasionally fixing the boiler—also runs booking there, and said she has thus far rebooked six performances from "The Knit," giving those half-dozen acts a new home in the City of Trees.

"You don't want to cancel a show," she said. "It's about the community, you know?"

While she has audiences in mind, the added workload has come with a few minor challenges. Two private film screenings have had to be rescheduled and The Egyptian's small staff has stretched to meet the increased demands of more events. She has even taken to social media to crowdsource some labor. Williams described her own job as "eight days a week."

"We've all had to come together and make it work," she said.

Meanwhile, The Knitting Factory has begun planning its comeback. Knitting Factory General Manager Gary Pike wrote in an email that the "process [of repairs and improvements to the venue] moves at a very measured pace." Following the fire, people can expect the full space to reopen in early 2019.

"We won't know an exact date for another month or so," he wrote.

The Knit isn't entirely out of the concert game. Fire damage did not extend to its 9th St. Parallel venue, which includes a full bar and food menu, and has space for more than 200 people. Pike said it will reopen for Boise-based metal band Traitors Gate on Saturday, Nov. 10, and Kuna-based Dusty Leigh & The Claim Jumpers on Friday, Nov. 16.

Several other acts, including The Devil Makes Three (Saturday, Nov. 17), Lil Yachty (Friday, Nov. 23) and Atreyu (Thursday, Dec. 6) have been cancelled, and Pike did not address whether those cancellations were related to repairs at The Knitting Factory.

Eric Gilbert, co-founder of Duck Club Presents, which books acts for venues like The Olympic and Neurolux, said the closure of The Knitting Factory following the fire may have a long-lasting impact on the booking business in the City of Trees. Duck Club, a sister entity to Treefort Music Fest, has long had a close relationship with The Knit, sometimes booking shows there and frequently relying on it as a Treefort venue. Gilbert said the fire has made that close relationship closer.

He has been in steady contact with Knitting Factory bookers, and by his estimate, has had a hand in finding new venues for between five and 10 bands. The loss of The Knit has been keenly felt by audiences across the Treasure Valley: In addition to being a larger-capacity venue, Gilbert said, it's also one of the biggest all-ages venues in the Treasure Valley. When Rubblebucket's Monday, Nov. 12, performance was moved from The Knit to Neurolux, he said, its audience changed overnight.

"[The] Knitting Factory is an all-ages venue. When those shows move out of necessity, they shifted from all-ages shows to 21-plus shows. That's one of the upsides to having The Knitting Factory," he said.

Other venues and bookers have pitched in to soak up touring acts, and to Gilbert, the collective effort has illuminated what has become a Knitting Factory-shaped hole in the Boise music scene.

"You see the need for The Knitting Factory in the ecosystem," he said. "There's not a really natural replacement to it."