Concertgoers in San Diego have another option for live music: Music Box officially opens in Little Italy on Thursday, with bookers bringing in musical flavors for every taste.
Kicking open the doors will be alt-country rockers Whiskey Myers, followed by Spanish pop-rock sensation Julieta Venegas, who is set to play back-to-back shows. Josh Heinrichs follows in October with reggae, "Americal Idol" star David Cook takes the stage on Oct. 2, and Scott Weiland & the Wildabouts, Everclear and Robert DeLong are all in the wings.
The new owners have made some major changes to the space that once housed Anthology, not least of which includes an increase in capacity -- gone are the big tables on the mail floor and the peninsula bar. Music Box's Joe Rinaldi answered some of our questions about who we'll be seeing on the stage, how well we'll be able to see them and more below.
Hannah Lott-Schwartz: What sort of music are we going to see, aside from those acts already disclosed online?
Joe Rinaldi: Our goal is to be as diverse as possible -- legacy Anthology stuff, contemporary stuff -- but introduce the other things going on in town that are such a part of the music scene, like jam scene, reggae scene and touring country/country rock.
HLS: Do you anticipate competing with the Casbah at all?
JR: No one competes with the Casbah. That’s sort of a relief -- plus they like our venue and want to put their stuff that outgrows their room into ours in some cases. We're, like, 14 blocks away from them.
HLS: What are the sight lines like? Is there a barrier between crowd and stage? How high is the stage? Are we looking at seated shows, standing? Mixed?
JR: I’m very happy with the sight lines. You can choose a spot and square up to the stage comfortably. We have an optional barrier. The stage is standard 3-5 feet high. There will be some seated shows, but we are going to operate as a general admission standing hall.
HLS: What renovations will Music Box unveil? What are the decisions behind those changes?
JR: We're upping the capacity dramatically, which will get us bigger acts or acts that dont have to charge $80, or do an early and late show. The other innovation is the place will be crammed with art, with beauty -- it wasn't unsightly before, but with all that space the owners have curated a decorative environment that will keep your eyes busy and hopefully very happy.
HLS: What kind of decor can we expect?
JR: You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. We’re not going to go conservative or under-decorate, that’s for sure.
HLS: Music Box is increasing capacity by more than 250 percent. Are we still going to get intimate shows?
JR: The operating range on paper is 300-700, but we will refine as we go. Three hundred is intimate, right? What's the capacity of the Echo in L.A.? Five hundred? That's intimate in terms of the Troubadour, Roxy or Independent (in San Francisco). Even 700 is intimate in terms of El Rey and Bowery Ballroom.
HLS: I read that the second floor will be VIP boxes -- will you sell tickets that are specific to the first and third floors as well?
JR: We're a standing, general-admission room and encourage people to explore. There are two private VIP spaces: the opera boxes on our mezzanine and our private space hidden up above the stage on the top level. Eighty-five percent of the space is open and available for any guest to explore any night.
Music Box is located at 1337 India St. and is open Thursday-Saturday. Details are at musicboxsd.com.
Hannah Lott-Schwartz, a San Diego native, moved back to the area after working the magazine-publishing scene in Boston. Now she’s straight trolling SD for all the music she missed while away. Want to help? Hit her up with just about anything at all over on Twitter, where -- though not always work-appropriate -- she means well.