3 Production Drive Unit # 3
Brookfield, Connecticut 06804
In the midst of what seems like a slow decline of the CT music scene and against all odds, two guys decided to open an all ages music venue in a south eastern remote area of the state. Vern Nickerson, the more vocal of the two, and Jimmy Guptill opened The Room’s doors about a year ago with the intention to help rebuild the CT music scene. Originally a craft place before closing, the space was completely empty. The interior, including all the rooms inside, were build from scratch to create the venue called, The Room.
The owners aren’t some business guys looking to make big money off the backs of local hard working bands. Vern is an experienced performing musician and Jimmy is a fan of live music and both poured their hearts into this project. Together they established a warm atmosphere for both musicians and visitors.
The Room has been on my radar ever since I 1st learned about it a few months ago. Located in Brookfield, CT, it’s almost exactly an hour drive for me from just outside of Hartford. I had been putting off going for awhile because of the distance, though when I saw that Symphony of Malice was on the bill for the upcoming Eye Empire show, it was all the motivation I needed and here’s what I found:
Location: The directions took me to what looked like a business park area, where 9-5ers work. All the storefronts are pushed back far from the road , however there is a big light up sign indicating where The Room is, so there's no dnger of missing the place. Parking extended around to the back of the building, however I was able to score a space right out in front of the club. I wasn’t really concerned at all about leaving my car there, because the neighborhood seemed safe.
The entrance looks like a storefront and it continues that feel as you enter the well lit lobby. Chairs, a couple of couches and a TV running all-ages-friendly movies provides a very homey welcoming environment. Actually, it kind of reminded me of a tattoo parlor without the artwork all over the walls. The ‘L” shaped counter, with welcoming attendants, offers some food and drinks at the counter, including pizza and various soft drinks and is where tickets for a show can be purchased. For every show, The Room also sells tickets online. Jimmy says:
“We have tickets available on ticketstorm.com and they're usually less money to buy them on there, but most people still pay at the door.”
Ages: The Room is an all ages venue in its purest form; a rare species among Connecticut live music night clubs. There is no bar. Unlike many all ages venues, The Room does not serve alcohol at all, making the environment truly safe for minors. This may deter the 21+ patrons looking for a bar-like atmosphere and even some of the bands who like a couple of drinks before they hit the stage, but as a non-drinker, I find it refreshing. Vern had this to say about it:
“The all ages venues that do currently exist, they’re all ages, but they have a bar. We don’t do that. We have a completely different atmosphere here. 14 year old kids whose parents drop them off here...the first time they [parents] walk to the counter they stick their head around. They look, they leer in.”
“The thing that we have over them [other all-ages venues] is that we’re truly all ages. Bands that play here...we’ve had nights that musicians 9 years old are in bands playing on the same night as a 63 year old man. It was the same night and the same show.”
“I’ve had to send a few people away [for drinking], because it’s not how we operate. Some places don’t care, but the majority of our crowd ranges from 14-40 on any given night, so we do have to do things a little bit different.”
Showroom: On the back wall of the lobby is an open doorway to the darkened showroom where most of the guests congregate. The showroom itself has plenty of floor space with capacity of 250 and no seating. No matter where you are you have full visibility of the stage, which is clearly the focal point room. The rectangular room has high warehouse ceilings making the space feel really open. A nice touch is the two ceiling mounted projectors for viewing upcoming events and band info. Along side the right wall is some game systems set up for anyone to use during their vist. It’s the little details like that add to a room’s character.
Stage: The stage is larger than most that I’ve seen for a venue this size, having more than enough real estate to field 5-7 band members comfortably without being on top of each other. Mounted on the stage back wall are guitar hangers for the band's convenience. Vern commented that he’s seen way too many guitars and basses either lying in open cases or leaning on amps, and the accidents that occur from this. Musicians have a ton of things they need to remember to bring to the gig and now a guitar stand is not one of them when you play The Room.
There’s ample lighting and the rig has room for expanding, so it can accommodate bands coming in with their own lighting. My only complaint is that the stage is not high enough, however they just recently added 18" risers a the front of the stage, so musicians can jump up there to change things up a bit. Vern said that most hardcore bands that play there bring their own box to stand on, but they slide around too much. The new risers are fixed to the stage so there is no danger of losing footing from a sliding box.
Merch Booth: While I was there, two bands had merchandise booths, one on either side of the room, which were clearly visible, yet not in the way. It looked like there was room for a couple more too. Some bands bring their own tables, however, The Room does have a few of their own that they offer.
Bathrooms: Both restrooms were located in the showroom making them not only easy to find, but also in a place where you can still hear the music and not miss a thing. I’ve seen my share of shady and toxic bathrooms (CBGB’s) at night clubs, which seems like the norm for music venues, however The Room maintains a clean sterile white environment to do your business in.
PA System/Sound: The overall sound was impressive, in spite of the high ceiling, which in most cases, tend to work against the cause acoustically. Individual instruments were defined, and vocals were clearly audible, which I find most clubs can come pretty close, but just can’t master.
A 16 channel snake on the stage leads to the 32 channel sound board located on the loft overseeing the showroom, which is more than enough for accommodating local bands and any national acts coming through as well. The night I visited, Eye Empire was playing and they brought their own soundboard and sound guy, who set up shop off to the side.
VIP: Stairs leading up to the special VIP loft are blocked off by a chain. This area is reserved for bands who put in the extra effort in promoting their shows and selling tickets. They get the rock star treatment. The loft has arcade games, a TV, Foosball, some very comfortable couches, and a full view of the show room from above. Vern explains:
“We have little perks that we do for bands. If you’re in a band and you play here at a local show, any band that sells 50 tickets we give them the VIP loft. We treat them right as long as they get the money in ahead of time, so we can set it up to treat them like rock stars. We’ve only had to do that a couple of times. We’d like to do it for every local show.”
Green room: On either side of the wall on the back of the stage are doors leading to the backstage area, where bands load and unload their gear. There are also 3 green rooms for bands to keep guitars and stuff and offers a place to relax before and after a show. Very few venues that I’ve seen offer this kind of accommodation, especially to local bands.
Notable Acts: The Room has attracted national acts like Psychostick, Eve to Adam, Crossfade, Bobaflex, KrashKarma, Downtown Brown, Skinmask, Breathing Theory, and Eye Empire, which is pretty impressive for only being open for a year. Vern says that some of the best bands that have played aren’t necessarily big name bands:
“Probably the best metal band we’ve had in this joint was out of Jacksonville, FL, called Wormwood Prophecy. They played here on a night that was not a metal night. They had a gig scheduled at another venue in CT. They got canceled the day before the show. They were cold calling venues saying, ‘Is there any chance you can put us on a bill?’.”
"I told them, ‘You’re not really going to fit the night. It’s more of an Alternative night, but I’ll put you on the bill.’ They came here and played at the end of the night and every band that played that night...bless them...it doesn’t usually happen...their people stayed and watched that night. They gave them their 5 minutes to see what happens and they all stayed to the end. We can’t wait to have them back.”
The Room promises to be one of the premiere live music venues in Connecticut, however they have a huge uphill climb. Both Vern and Jimmy recognize this, yet won’t let that get in their way of building from their dream. Vern adds:
“Most of Connecticut doesn’t know we exist and part of it has to do with our secluded location and part of it is that if you’re just in as club, it takes between 2 and 3 years before people know you exist. We’re hoping that some of the larger profile shows...some of our Battle of the Bands events, will get us noticed.“
The Room is a something really special and in my opinion should be the template of local music venues. What makes it special is the care and effort put into every detail by owners Vern, a veteran of the music scene, and his partner Jimmy, who loves live music. A place like this designed from a musician’s point of view, a touring musicians point of view, makes a big difference. The attention to detail, the passion and commitment to make a dream come true shines with even the 1st foot in the door. They did it and they did it right.
About the author
Agrippa is a the general adviser, internet tech sorcerer, and a reporter for the Metal Cyndicate of Connecticut, as well as the author of his own blog about music and music production, Agrippa: Thought Manifest. He can also be found fronting his own band, Agrippa93, on vocals, synths, sequencers, samples, and piano. Agrippa also has an industrial solo project called, Agrippa’s Laboratory. Both projects are produced through his label and studio, Sickle Pation. You can follow him on twitter via @agrippa93, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.