For more than a decade, concert promoter Sam Summer had been putting on his First Fleet Concerts shows at various venues around town. In March he gave many of his concerts a new home when he opened Wooly’s at 504 E. Locust St.
Des Moines has several venues with a capacity of 200-300, and then a big gap until the 900 person People’s Court. Bands that normally draw 500 fans were either playing in a smaller room and losing out on money, playing a bigger space that looked half-full, or bypassing Des Moines all together to head to Omaha or Iowa City.
“It’s always been something I’ve thought about, but it never seemed practical with where I was,” Summer, 28, said. “But this space became available and it has given me more security to do some cool shows I wouldn’t have been able to do.”
One of those shows is buzz band Sleigh Bells., playing Oct. 27.
Wooly’s has been open less than six months, but has already had a number of sold-out shows, including Girl Talk, Papa Roach, Christina Perri, Eric Hutchinson and Switchfoot.
Danny Heggen, 26, has seen both sides . He attended shows as a concert-goer, and his band Seedlings opened for Devotchka at Wooly’s in July.
“When you’re watching a show you feel close enough to the musicians that it feels like an intimate show and the community is turning up to support a band,” Heggen said. “And as far as performing, the stage itself and the sound are outstanding. I think we played one of our best shows at Wooly’s. The gear they provide and the people running the show know what they’re doing. It’s just awesome.”