Monday, April 4, 2011

Grand Opening: World Cafe Live at the Queen

Last weekend the doors to this newly refurbished venue were officially opened.  After having been vacant since the late 1950's (formerly a hotel & movie theater), the building known as The Queen has been resurrected as a top notch music venue.  To see this project come to fruition is due in large part to Hal Real, founder of the World Cafe in Philadelphia, and radio station WXPN.  This week's edition of Out & About has several good articles regarding The Queen's opening including a Q&A with Hal.  In the article, Hal says that despite repeated requests he had been reluctant to open another World Cafe, not wanting it to become a "cookie cutter" establishment like Hard Rock Cafe.  In the end, the history of the building and the challenge to revitalize the City of Wilmington's nightlife won him over. 

Opening night featured singer/songwriter Ingrid Michaelson playing to a sold out crowd (including me) who were eager to see what The Queen had to offer.  The renovated lobby and hallways lead to the main floor which is general admission bookended between a bar in the rear and the stage up front.  The balcony features lounge seating in the front with standing room in the rear.  It also has a 2nd stage upstairs that will be utilized at smaller events during the week.  Overall The Queen is small enough for the performance to feel intimate but not so much that you feel like you're stuck in a sardine can.  The walls and ceiling surrounding the stage appeared to be cleared of loose/chipping paint but otherwise left unaltered.  It seemed to serve as a reminder of the buildings age and history, plus it looks pretty damn cool with the lighting arrangement shining on it. 

As for the show itself, Ingrid seemed almost effortlessly to win over the crowd by sharing stories and having a dialogue in between songs.  She alternated between guitar and piano accompanied by two backing vocalists also on guitar.  Admittedly I'm only vaguely familiar with her catalog but I still really enjoyed the performance.

Tickets for Upcoming Events at World Cafe Live at the Queen are available for purchase at their website.  In addition to those performances The Queen also boasts several weekly events free of entry charge including: "4W5 Acoustic Jam" on Mondays at 7pm, "Acoustic/Electric Open Mic" on Tuesdays at 7pm, and "4W5 Blues Jam" on Wednesdays at 7pm.

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