Two years is a long time for a venue to be closed. (Can anyone even remember 2017?) So long, in fact, that some of us may have forgotten that Webster Hall even existed. But what was once an East Village staple is back in business, and it’s vying to win a spot in your rotation with a stacked lineup that has been teased for months. We have some questions on and thoughts about the redesign, starting with a sleek new logo that may be better suited to a boutique hotel? Oh, and ICYMI: Jay-Z !
Webster Hall closed its doors at the end of 2017 to fully devote its resources to revamping and modernizing an old building that was no doubt in dire need of a facelift. Few details have been released about the look of this new rendition of the iconic nightclub, first constructed in 1886. This 130-year-old mythologized dwelling is rumored to have been used as a speakeasy by Al Capone long before it was granted landmark status in 2008. After closing, its crew spent all of the subsequent year and almost half of this year restoring the space. But the booking agent was clearly not just chilling in the meantime, because the upcoming lineup is already filled with big names (hello, Patti Smith!), starting with the reopening on Friday, April 26. See below!
Watch the Stage
Webster will be reintroduced to the public with a musician of legendary status: Jay-Z is crafting a special edition of his B-Sides 2, the sequel to his 2015 performance at Terminal 5. This show, however, will be much more intimate, with a capacity of only 1,500 concertgoers. AmEx cardholders get first dibs on tickets, which went on sale yesterday, April 19. The rest of us plebes can pick up the scraps or feast our eyes on Webster’s upcoming lineup (which is nothing to scoff at). I almost hate to ask, but: However good Jay’s show will be, can it hold a candle to Beyoncé’s Homecoming performance at Coachella last year?
Brunch With the Vampires
Upper West Side darlings Vampire Weekend will also be gracing the halls of Webster this spring with an all-day album launch party on May 5. If watching Ezra Koenig et al. perform Father of the Bride in its entirety isn’t enough, bagels and pizza will be served to keep you satiated throughout this marathon event. It’s a full-fledged Pizza Party in the spirit of Koenig’s short-lived rap career and no doubt a harbinger of the kinds of experiential, once-in-a-lifetime shows that venues all over the city are striving to offer growing audiences.
And now, full disclosure: This writer has a personal horror story associated with Webster Hall dating back to the summer of 2016, when Kanye West’s headlining set at Governor’s Ball was canceled. As a concession and a publicity stunt, West announced a free 2 a.m. show at an undisclosed location that enough fans correctly determined to be hosted by the venue in question. We waited in a crowd that far exceeded the theater’s capacity and that various news outlets described in real time as riotlike conditions, but then Webster canceled the show after big names (at the time) like Desiigner and Big Sean had already caused a stir when they arrived. Little did anyone know, West had been driving down the road with his head out of the sunroof one block over on Fourth Avenue. Enough time has passed that this once-scorned music fan is willing to let go of the past and give the new and improved Webster Hall a chance.