Community responds to Recher closing
When Howi Spangler and his band Ballyhoo! first took the stage at the Recher Theatre in 2004, they were participating in a battle of the bands competition.
The Baltimore-based band, having gained some renown, came back again in 2009, to celebrate the release of their album “Cheers!” Ballyhoo! will perform once again March 9, but it will be the last time the band will take the stage at the Recher.
Later in March, the theater will officially close down, eventually to be replaced by the Torrent nightclub, multiple news sources have reported.
The nightclub will still be owned by the Recher family, and will stand in the same spot as the Recher, but will focus on the electronic dance music scene. This is a drastic change for the venue, which usually hosted bands from the metal, rock and pop-punk genres.
“We were all kind of shocked,” Spangler said. “It’s one of our favorite venues, we’ve had some very great shows there. Seeing it being turned into a nightclub is kind of disappointing. But the venue’s got to do what it’s got to do.”
The Recher, which has been open for roughly 16 years, has already begun the transformation.
Construction on the nightclub began with the renovation on the patio area behind the venue, according to the Baltimore Sun.
“I’m super disappointed that it’s turning into a nightclub, especially since bands like the Summer Set and All Time Low specifically stop at the Recher because they love it there,” sophomore Cara Steiner said.
A few shows are scheduled for March after Ballyhoo!, but they will be the last concerts the venue ever hosts.
Owner of the theater Brian Recher, who co-owns the Recher and the adjoining Rec Room with his brothers, told The Sun the family had been talking about the change for years, but officially agreed on the change around 18 months ago.
The owners of the theater, despite multiple attempts, could not be reached for comment.
At least one of the companies who books shows for the venue, Baltimore Sound Management, hadn’t been officially notified of the change as of Feb. 14. Brian Smith, a promoter for BSM, said he still hadn’t heard word of the closing, but knew for several months the venue would be closing through word-of-mouth.
Of the 16 shows that are still on the Recher’s calendar, BSM sponsors eight of them.
“We knew since last year, we heard whispers and we’re friends with everyone who works there,” Smith said. “I’ve been through this before, clubs closing, so I can really see the signs.”
Smith said he believes his business has enough clients that they will be able to recover when the venue closes, and that bands that usually came through the Recher will be able to find other venues in the area.
“I’ve been in the music scene a long time, but one thing I can tell you is that what we were doing at the Recher, they’re going to show up somewhere else,” he said. “You’ll see bands at venues you’d never thought you’d see them at. It’s just sad, it’s terrible.”
The change in the music scene that the venue is supporting is also a concern to both Smith and Spangler.
“As far as dubstep goes, how long is that going to last?” Smith said. “I don’t believe you can do dance five days a week. You can do bands five days a week because they have different genres.”
While Spangler wouldn’t say how long he thought the Torrent nightclub could last, he did say the new venue will appeal to a different audience.
“It’s a little weird, the types of people who’ll be going to that place now,” he said. “I’m not a fan of electronic music. It’s just not my scene. I like live music and rock music and bands who play real live music with electric guitars.”
Sophomore major Meg Shetz said she’ll likely be going to fewer concerts now that the venue is closing.
“Since I was in seventh grade, I’ve been going there almost every year for different concerts,” she said. “I loved how small it was which made it more intimate for shows rather than going to a huge venue. I think the club aspect is a horrible idea, whenever Recher hosts club nights they’re always completely dead, I think that people are more willing to go downtown because clubs like Soundstage are more well-known.”
Community leaders are concerned over past experiences Towson has had with nightclubs.
Paul Hartman, the vice president of the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations, said around 10 years ago a nightclub called Generation Extreme, which was in the building that the Greene Turtle is in now, posed some of the same problems.
“They appealed to the underage crowd, so they had no liquor license,” he said. “But people would leave the club at night and they would just hang out on the streets and cause problems. It just wasn’t a really good scene, and people were afraid to walk by there, so that’s what people think now when you say the word nightclub.”
Baltimore County Councilman David Marks also said that he has fielded questions and concerns from citizens who are afraid that crowds will become an issue when the nightclub opens.
“The community is concerned about mobs of students, mobs of kids being on the streets,” Marks said. “My perspective as long as students are behaving they have the right to enjoy downtown Towson.”
Since meeting with the Recher family regarding the changes, Marks said his concerns over security have been quelled.
“[Recher] answered some of my concerns,” Marks said. “I don’t want to have some of the problems we’ve had in the past come up again. Mr. Recher tells me they will have up to 15 people working security, which seems significant. Because they have a liquor license they will be under more scrutiny.”
The Recher has already been under fire in the past months after a melee broke out outside the theater in September.
The melee started among a large crowd that was outside the theater as part of a private event, held by the fraternity Theta Mu Mu, and resulted in several arrests.
In an agreement with Baltimore County government, the Recher was absolved of all wrongdoing in the incident.
Hartman said there is currently no telling what impact the change will have on the community.
“Change of this magnitude can be disconcerting,” he said. “But people were first concerned when the Recher changed from a movie theater into a music venue, and that turned out to be no problem at all.”
No matter what the outcome, the fans of the venue, both concertgoers and bands alike, are sad to see the venue go.
Spangler said that after their show in March, they’ll start looking at other venues in the area to play at, including Rams Head Live! and the Ottobar.
“[I’m just going to miss] the overall experience of playing there,” he said. “The whole management team there took care of us. When we ran out of beer they’d let us go and take out more beer. It was just an overall good experience. There was a nice sound system, good lights. I’m just going to miss it.”