Honeysuckle got to spend one of the last nights at the formerly owned Webster Hall with legendary General Manager and bar owner, Gerard McNamee Jr, before they closed. It was a final hurrah for the iconic venue, which will reopen in 2020 under its new identity as Spectrum Hall, owned by Brooklyn Sports Entertainment, set to function as strictly a concert and sports facility. It’s our privilege to bid farewell to this landmark club with an exclusive interview, direct from the “Hip Priest” himself (who is now campaigning to be New York City’s Night Mayor). Narrated by Brian August, CEO of 110 Stories.
Recognized as “the first modern nightclub,” Webster Hall (located at 125 East 11th Street between Third and Fourth Avenues) has been part of East Village life since 1886. Its current incarnation, opened by the Ballinger Brothers in 1992, served as alternately a nightclub, concert venue, corporate events space, and recording studio with maximum capacity of 2,500 people. Following a concert in 2008, General Manager McNamee met the art curator Jenny Mushkin-Goldman with whom he would found The Quarterly Art Soirée to restore Webster Hall’s history of presenting classical arts, charity benefits, and emerging artists in the spirit of Marcel Duchamp. On March 18, 2008, after a landmarks proposal was submitted by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated Webster Hall and its Annex a New York City landmark.
During McNamee’s leadership, the club more than earned its claim to that title. Stars who graced the stage during Gerard’s tenure include Lady Gaga, Tiësto, Sara Barielles, Paul Simon, The B-52’s, Aimee Mann, Katy Perry, DJ Diplo, , Iron & Wine, Waka Flocka Flame, Faith No More, Nate Ruess, The Used, Muse, Jessie J, The Wombats, Mika, The Mighty Mighty Boss Tones, Chance The Rapper, Zeds Dead, Chromeo, Wiz Khalifa, Vance Joy, Charli XCX, Lenny Kravitz, Metallica, and Snoop Dogg. In August 2016, Pollstar Magazine named Webster Hall the #1 Club Venue in New York by ticket sales, and #3 in the world.
In July 2017, McNamee announced through a Facebook post that Webster Hall’s historical home had been purchased by Brooklyn Sports Entertainment with a planned three-year closing for renovations. The Facebook post went viral and was cited in numerous leading news sites across the globe. The former venue staff, including Gerard, honored the history of the hall, proclaiming it the “end of an era” series with concerts featuring Michelle Branch, Good Charlotte, Action Bronson, Skillrex, Alex English, and Nine Inch Nails.