There was a tangible energy in the air Tuesday night as curious Louisvillians nosed around Old Forester’s Paristown Hall, the new 28,000-square-foot, $12 million concert and performing arts venue that is part of the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts cannon.
The space hosted a soft opening for members of the media, sponsors, staff and many more, and we were treated to a concert by Louisville’s Villa Mure and blues artist Christone “Kingfish” Ingram of Mississippi.
Most concert-goers in town tend to show up closer to the start of the show, but not on this night. Hundreds of folks came early so they could check out every inch of the two-floor venue — find the perfect spot to see and hear the music, grab a drink from one of three massive bars, mingle, scope out the bathroom situation — the women’s restroom on the ground floor has 12 stalls.
Paristown Hall joins the Kentucky Center family of venues, which includes the center and Brown Theatre. Comparing it to other concert rooms in town, Paristown Hall has the capacity to fit twice as many patrons as Headliners and Mercury Ballroom.
The venue will mostly be standing-room only for concerts, much like the two mentioned above, and there are two VIP lounge areas on the top floor that offer seating options but will come at a higher price.
As we walked around and kicked the tires, we found ourselves in a conundrum — the venue felt both spacious and intimate.
It was easy to get away from the crowds by stepping back toward the bars or on the two outdoor patio areas, but the sound was just as crisp and clear as if we were up at the front of the stage, tapping along to Villa Mure’s cover of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Feel the Same.”
Also worth noting, the bar service is quick and offers drinks at fairly reasonable prices. It might not be as inexpensive as Headliners, but it’s definitely not as high as Mercury Ballroom or the Louisville Palace. And while you can find plenty of Old Forester on hand, as the brand is the sponsor of the venue, there are other options of bourbon, vodka, gin, etc.
Domestic beers — only Miller Lite and Coors Light — run $5 for 12 ounces, and the menu tops out at $10 for cocktails (I had a great Old Fashioned) and premium brands. Import beers are $6, while craft beers are $7.
Old Forester’s Paristown Hall officially opens on Tuesday, July 23, with a concert by Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Ben Sollee and Mucca Pazza. Tickets are $60. The venue is located at 724 Brent St.
Below are more photos of the space we took Tuesday night: