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Weekly Q&A: Brooklyn Bowl owner Peter Shapiro talks late-night music and strikes

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Shapiro is ready to bring the Brooklyn Bowl vibe to Vegas.
Photo: Andy Kropa/Invision / AP

The Vegas venue scene has a remade Chelsea and a rechristened Axis, and soon it will get something totally new: Brooklyn Bowl. The popular New York hangout is headed to the Linq, where it will provide a live-music, dining and, yes, bowling destination near the center of the Strip. The Weekly tracked down owner Peter Shapiro at the Manhattan offices of Relix, the jam-focused music magazine he runs along with the original Brooklyn Bowl.

When are you planning to open the doors of Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas? Phil Lesh has announced an April 20 show, and I’ve seen early-March George Porter Jr. dates floating around. We’ll be open in March. We’ll be announcing all that stuff soon, details on shows, but we’re definitely planning on being a venue that will have some major shows. We’ve got, like, a 2,000-capacity venue for live music, and then we’re gonna be focusing on live music late-night. Right now, on the Strip, Downtown, off-Strip, there’s not a lot of places to go see live music after midnight. There’s a lot of DJ stuff, a lot of clubs and fun times, but we think there’s a pretty big group of people that would love to see some great live tunes late-night.

Is that 2,000 capacity seated or standing or some combination of both? It’s GA. I mean, we put couches in the lanes. … In the Brooklyn Bowl in New York, when you’re in the bowlers’ lounge, where they have pretty fat couches, you’re in the best spot to watch a show, off to the side, up a little, and that’ll be the same in Vegas. But there’s a GA floor, a standing floor—we will not be doing seated shows on the GA floor. It’s a rock ’n’ roll room.

At Brooklyn Bowl in New York we’ve had Elvis Costello and Paul Simon and Kanye West and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the Meters and Yo La Tengo and Dinosaur Jr. and Taj Mahal and lots of fun stuff from New Orleans. You won’t see a lot of solo acoustic performances—Tori Amos alone on the piano, I don’t think you’re gonna see that at the Brooklyn Bowl. But you’re gonna see a lot of rock, a lot of funk, a lot of soul, a lot of jazz-fusion, stuff that you might see late-night in New Orleans during Jazz Fest. So I think people who love live music are gonna be pretty happy.

And you’ll have a pretty major food component, too, right? We have the Blue Ribbon restaurant, and I know there’s a Blue Ribbon at the Cosmopolitan, but that’s more sushi-based. Our menu will be very similar to the menu at Brooklyn Bowl New York. And the other cool thing is we’re not in a casino-hotel. We’re out at the Linq, which is looking pretty cool. It feels like a lot of people are rooting for the Linq and for us. I think if the Linq is successful at the center of the Strip, that’s good for everybody.

You own Relix, and Phil Lesh is coming to play an early show, but it sounds like it won’t be a super jam-focused venue? The Roots just had their holiday jam at Brooklyn Bowl in New York last Monday. Questlove DJs every Thursday. We’ve got a cool fusion band, Lettuce, tonight. Pretty Lights just DJ’d there. Girl Talk DJ’d there the other day. So it’s pretty diverse stuff. And if you look at the cover of Relix, the Kings of Leon and Wilco and the Mumford guys have done it, so that jam scene is a little broader, and we’re looking to broaden it out a bit more. But are we gonna do Galactic late-night? Yep. And I think that’s needed.

In your mind’s eye, how many shows do you anticipate doing per week? I’d say we’ll have live music four or five nights a week, and then I think we’ll do late-night live music three to four nights a week. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a cool band from New Orleans like Galactic do kind of a residency in the late-night slot. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see some bands sign up for two- and three-night runs. We think the room is well set up for that.

We had a bowling alley here called Jillian’s that did some shows near the lanes, but since this is being designed specifically with music in mind, I’m guessing the sound will be on quite a different level from that. Yeah. For me, it will be once in a lifetime, to get to build a venue from scratch. I used to own Wetlands here in New York City, but I took that over. And Brooklyn Bowl was an existing building that we kind of rehabbed. This is a brand new space, so the plumbing and the wood and everything is brand new. We’re gonna have the best sound in the world, the best lighting in the world. It’s 78,000 square feet, which is the same size as Hakkasan. And we’re pretty psyched to try to bring something to town that the visitors will like and the locals will like and that’s just good for music.

Obviously, Brooklyn and Vegas are not the same place. Do you have any concerns that what you have that’s cool there might not feel cool here? I can tell you we plan to take our vibe and our scene there. We will bring on a lot of seasoned Vegas veterans to make sure we don’t f*ck it up, but we’re gonna try to bring Brooklyn Bowl and Brooklyn Bowl’s vibe there. That’s not there right now. There’s a lot of cool places in Vegas. But that vibe’s not there right now.

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Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is the Editor of Las Vegas Weekly, having previously served as Managing Editor, Arts & Entertainment Editor and ...

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