*NOTE* Thie story was done by our good pal By BEN SISARIO for the NY TIMES, keep an EYE out for this new club it could be a new home away from home for http://www.rockandrolljunkie.com HQ
LOS ANGELES — The walls and ceiling still had holes waiting to be filled, and the stage was just an empty space framed by a proscenium arch. But Michael Swier could practically already hear the music.
“Walking in here for the first time, it was the same thing when I first walked into the Bowery Ballroom,” Mr. Swier said on a recent tour here of what will soon be the Teragram Ballroom, beaming as he pointed out where the bands will play and fans will cheer. “I’m seeing the whole thing unfold right in front of me.”
The Teragram is set to open in June after a $2 million renovation that will transform its space — a century-old former silent movie theater on the fringe of downtown Los Angeles — into a deluxe modern rock club with room for 600 people. Set to compete against famed local music halls like the Troubadour and the Roxy, the Teragram is also the first West Coast venture by Mr. Swier, one of the New York’s most influential club proprietors.
He opened the Mercury Lounge in 1994 and the Bowery Ballroom in 1998, and both remain beloved by musicians and concertgoers for their pristine acoustics and cozy vibe; in 2013, Rolling Stone named the Bowery the No. 1 club in the United States. Mr. Swier (pronounced SWEER) also helped start the Bowery Presents, a concert company that over the last decade has become a major force in New York and — with tentacles from Maine to New Orleans — one of the country’s largest independent promoters, selling 1.1 million tickets in 2014, according to the trade publication Pollstar.
“What Michael did with the Mercury and the Bowery was start a revolution in New York,” said Frank Riley, an agent for alternative stars like Yo La Tengo and My Bloody Valentine.
At 60, Mr. Swier is gaunt and soft-spoken but still passionate about building rock clubs. Los Angeles, he said, had long appealed to him as a vibrant youth market and a capital of the music industry, with a downtown that is quickly being transformed into a major night-life district. The focus at the Teragram, Mr. Swier said, will be clear sound and comfortable amenities.
“I just want it to be the best-sounding room and the best experience for people coming to see the music and for how bands are treated when they get here,” Mr. Swier said. “I want to bring my reputation of how I do that in New York, and I think there is room for a place of this size and this quality in L.A.”
The building that houses the Teragram was built in 1913 as the Playhouse Theater and was later turned into a printing shop. Angelenos and film buffs may be most interested in one of the building’s former tenants: the Quality Cafe, seen in countless films over the years, like “Seven” and “Million Dollar Baby.”
The new club, on a stretch of Seventh Street just off the 110 Freeway, has been under construction since July. It has a low vaulted ceiling that conjures its movie theater past, and Mr. Swier has added a 30-foot stage, a balcony, two bars and three spacious dressing rooms. His principal partners in the new club include Joe Baxley, an associate from New York who runs a bar nearby, and Mr. Swier’s brother Brian, an architect who helped design the New York clubs.
The Teragram’s existence also exposes a little-known rift in the Bowery Presents empire, which acts as a freelance promoter and controls venues like the Music Hall of Williamsburg and Terminal 5. The company was founded in 2004, and by the late 2000s tensions had grown between Mr. Swier and the other partners over the direction of the company. In 2010, they bought him out.
Shortly before then, Mr. Swier’s wife, Margaret Hannigan — who had been intimately involved with the Bowery and other clubs — was stricken with cancer, and she died in December 2009. “Teragram,” in tribute to her, is Margaret spelled backward.
“We didn’t have children,” Mr. Swier said. “The Bowery, that was our child. It still inspires me.”
Jim Glancy, a Bowery Presents partner, did not answer questions about Mr. Swier’s new venture but said, “I’m sure it will be a great-looking venue.” Mr. Swier still controls the Bowery Ballroom and the Mercury Lounge, and in a complex working relationship he and the Bowery Presents share some resources, like marketing and office space.
As an independent club in the competitive Los Angeles market — home to the two largest concert promoters in the world, Live Nation and A.E.G. Live — the Teragram will not have it easy. Among typical challenges to be expected, Mr. Riley said, is being outbid for leading talent by other promoters with deeper pockets. But Tom Windish, another top agent, said Mr. Swier’s reputation would help him establish the Teragram in the industry.
“I have a ton of respect for Michael’s ability to construct a venue that sounds great for the audience and the band, has great sight lines, and accommodates bands well,” Mr. Windish wrote in an email. “I believe he has done that again in L.A. and think the location is strong enough for it to be a success.”
Strolling through the still-unfinished room, Mr. Swier said he expected that the Teragram’s size and amenities would help it succeed. But he mostly just seemed excited to get it open.
“I see the space, and I get chills,” Mr. Swier said, with a smile. “It’s going to be a great little room.”
By BEN SISARIO