Todd Patrick: The city's hardest-working club promoter has a vision.


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Being an active part of the underground in this city requires commitment. You have to drag yourself to events in abandoned lofts and dumpy performance spaces. You have to trek out to far-flung neighborhoods where people donít speak English. Sometimes you even have to take the G train after midnight.


Itís such hard work that a homebody like me canít imagine it as a lifestyle. But there are so many kids whoíve never been to Filter 14 or Spa, who never went to Brownies, who know exactly where to find their own fun night after night. They know about people and places like the Madagascar Institute, Mighty Robot, Rubulad and Flux Factory. They even recognize a bunch of the guys and gals on Troublemanís online society page.


In this world, John Fitz is a bigger factor than Jon Weiss, and the promoter of the moment, in fact the hardest-working dude in New Yorkís underground, is Todd Patrick.


Patrickís an experienced rock promoter who ran influential clubs in Oregon with almost no money. Now heís building up a billowing head of steam in New York, doing two to four shows weekly at places like the Right Bank and Luxx. Heís one of the cityís most diverse bookers. Heís worked with veterans like Dan Melchiorís Broke Revue, emerging noisemakers like Xiu Xiu and Coptic Light, media favorites like the math-obsessed Ex Models. And heís pulling off some significant coups. Heís got the Rah Bras this month, and seminal emo-art boys Joan of Arc in March.


With designs on starting his own club, Patrick is looking at a space in Queens, near P.S. 1, five minutes from Manhattan. To fully appreciate where this guy is likely headed, itís important to understand that he didnít come from nowhere. Unlike so many creative types with wild dreams, heís already proven he can follow through.


"I owned a club in Oregon for about two years," he tells me. "It was a place called 17 Nautical Miles."


He was 22. He opened it with $1,200. ("Rent was $600 a month.") Legal capacity was 49, but 200 people started showing up regularly.


"It wasnít feasible in the long run, and it was also in a residential neighborhood," he says. "I found a bigger space that I called the Glass Factory that was in a wine warehouse. It was in a more industrial location, and also centrally located. I put a lot of money into that. I had saved a lot and borrowed some from my parents and opened that place for about $12,000."


Despite his limited budget at both venues, he put on a lot of huge shows. He booked Sleater-Kinney and other Kill Rock Stars bands. He booked Cat Power. There was also a crazy Get Up Kids show.


"At the time, I wasnít even aware of who [Get Up Kids] were, and suddenly we had 250 kids, and I had to run the entire show," he says. "I had no door person that evening."


Patrick and I talk for a while about clubs in New York, and how many people have invested hundreds of thousands to build places, and how itís kind of stunning that this keeps happening.


"I hear those kind of stories all the time, and I find those to be really just like, antithetical, to the whole idea," he says. "Iím in the market to build a club here in New York. Talking to people, those kinds of numbers get passed around. Not that 300 [thousand] is that enormously high for a city like New York, but itís just that all a club is, is a room with a stage and a guy working the door. You donít even really need a P.A. system to be honest.


"For the most part, people are really welcoming somebody doing stuff outside the New York mold of how things have to be. I think thatís kind of what I bring. People are really fed up about being treated like theyíre indebted to the clubs for giving them a show. A lot of people in this town put together shows or events in terms of constituencies. ĎOh, those people bring in 40, these people bring in 40, these people bring in 40.í"


What young bands donít realize is that bringing in those 40 people often means they only make $70.


"Oh yeah, if that. Probably less," Patrick says. "Iím very generous with the money at the end. At this point, Iím doing what Iím doing in New York just to make connections and be involved because I want to open a club. And obviously when I open a club, Iíll expect to make some money. But you donít get rich off of rock íní roll. I donít know why anybody thinks that. It seems to be a false vision. But the fact of the matter is, there are people arguing over such tiny, tiny amounts of money. People are arguing over the difference between $40 and $60.


"I try to do everything above the table. Typically, before the events, I let people know essentially what the breakdownís going to be. Thereís no reason to mislead. Why have any kind of bad energy at all? It just kind of ruins the whole point. People in New York, no matter what theyíre doing, especially entertainment, presume that someone is going to be misleading you. And I donít think it has to be that way."


Patrick finds a lot of acts just by going to all kinds of shows, but youíll almost never see him at the more well-known, larger establishments. I ask him why he hasnít considered taking his promoting prowess to a bigger club, given that many of his shows would work there.


"Rather than using the existing bigger venues, Iíd rather create my own bigger venue and find spaces," he says. "Like I said, I donít think you need a rock club, per se. You need a room with a door and somebody there stamping hands. And you need somebody to work the sound and thatís really it. You donít need all of the overhead. You can use spaces that are already there, use event halls. Thatís how Warsaw started.


"I want to have events," he continues. "And I want to do things that are memorable. It may be cliched to say community, I guess, but my vision is something bigger. I would like to have something thatís available to lots of different kind of people, not just in a cheesy kind of neighborhood-theater kind of way.


"For instance, my friends in Oregon have this thing called the Rock íní Roll Camp for Girls where they take 12-year-old girls, 13-year-old girls, and teach them how to play guitar. Itís all other women who play in bands who do the teaching. Itís a summer camp. The idea is to get young people who want to be creative and to make it more accessible. I want to create something thatís actually an incubator for people who are very creative and interesting. Itís why I do so many different things right now."


Itís a busy life for a guy who has a day job, especially because heís a one-man operation who makes all the flyers, writes all the press releases, burns all the CDs. For now, itís not really making him money, but itís all part of the big plan.


"In two years, what I hope will happen is that Iíll have an operating music venue in the evening, but the space will also be a lot of other things. I want a place with at least two floors, so you can have a lot going on. But more important, by day, the space can be used for things like that rock camp for girls. I want a community space for all kinds of people."





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