The Pour House in downtown Raleigh serves up the best of both.
Band flyers and posters adorn the glass windows outside The Pour House Music Hall on Blount Street, across from Moore Square Park. You pay your cover fee at the door and pass through the iron gates, then follow a narrow alley decorated with graffiti. Inside, an intimate space with a small stage awaits.
If you’re at all familiar with Raleigh’s burgeoning music scene, you’ve visited The Pour House, a crucial component of the city’s music history.
Chicago native Adam Lindstaedt has owned the venue since 2012 and books all the artists and bands who play there. But the cavernous, two-story music club’s legacy dates back more than two decades, to 1997, when it opened as a beer bar and lounge.
“It was the only place downtown at the time that had 30 drafts,” Lindstaedt says. “One day, the original owner booked a band, and it worked well. Over the next few years, the focus of the business evolved to shining the light on live performance.”
Lindstaedt, who attended college in San Diego and has a master’s degree in music business from Berklee College of Music in Boston, moved to Raleigh in 2009. After stints with PlayMakers Repertory Company and Carolina Theatre, Lindstaedt became The Pour House’s sole talent buyer, a one-man booking and marketing operation promoting more than 400 shows a year.
“We feature local, regional, national and international talent seven nights a week,” Lindstaedt says. “We’ve had lots of bands get their start at the venue that have now made it big.”
These acts include The Avett Brothers, a folk rock band from Concord, and American Aquarium, an alternative country band from Raleigh. Longtime favorites, such as Raleigh-based heavy metal band Corrosion of Conformity, have played The Pour House multiple times.
“My main focus for booking is featuring exciting, touring acts and pairing them with our up-and-coming local bands,” Lindstaedt continues. “The ultimate goal is to feature… the best bands so people can show up to the venue any night of the week, regardless of who’s performing, and know they will receive a great show at a great value.”
But Lindstaedt doesn’t see The Pour House as being in competition with any of Raleigh’s other great music clubs.
“Music is all about community,” he says. “We’re all best served if we work together. The majority of Raleigh venues book a variety of genres. This gives us all the ability to cater to several different markets. Working together, we try to avoid putting shows on at the same time that will split the crowds.”
Since late 2015, The Pour House has hosted the weekly Local Band Local Beer concert series, which moved after its original host, neighboring restaurant Tir na Nog, closed. Lindstaedt says the format of Local Band Local Beer changed slightly at the end of last year; now, a dozen people from around the Triangle put together four to five shows for the year. This way, the lineups—and the crowds—are more diverse.
For local singers and bands looking to book more gigs, Lindstaedt’s advice is simple: “Practice, practice, practice.”
“No matter how massive the tour is or how big the opportunity, if your music is not the best it can be, it will not sustain,” he says. “You can have the best publicist, hire the best manager and do everything right, business-wise, but at the end of the day, art comes first. Keep learning. Go see shows that are completely different than the style of music you play. Engage with different people. Build life experiences. Connect with people.”
It’s that connection that, for Lindstaedt, is at the core of what makes music so meaningful and so important.
“Music is a way to express feelings, thoughts and emotions better than anything else,” he says. “I see the transformative power of live music constantly, bringing groups of strangers together for a shared experience. Music can heal. Music can save. Music can be a guide in life. Many would be lost without music. Myself included.”
View upcoming events at thepourhousemusichall.com