Chop Shop in NoDa, which celebrates its two-year anniversary May 11, underwent a recent expansion that allows the bar and venue to host more national acts and larger crowds.
The transition is due to a new relationship between Chop Shop owner Jay Tilyard and Zali Presents’ Zach McNabb, who managed and booked Neighborhood Theatre for nine years with a small group of partners.
(In March, McNabb and company vacated Neighborhood and moved all of the lighting, sound and other equipment – including a massive ceiling fan – into Chop Shop’s large back room. Neighborhood Theatre reopens under new management on Wednesday with U.K. band Foals.)
The renovated Chop Shop is still in the large brick warehouse near the railroad tracks behind Cabo Fish Taco, but now there’s a second stage – 5 feet tall and 32 feet wide – and the room is lined with 60 4-by-10-foot black soundproofing panels that give the space a warm but industrial look. Chop Shop unveiled the new stage in early April, opposite the smaller stage in its 400-capacity front room.
“We’ve been doing special events in the back area since Day One, but I’ve always wanted to set up a permanent sound and light rig that was worthy of the large stage area,” says Tilyard. “This addition fast-forwarded the Chop Shop’s growth by a couple of years. Some of the dynamic has changed, but the versatility of the venue has increased dramatically.”
Tilyard will continue to operate Chop Shop and host his own shows and other promoters, while McNabb books from two to 12 shows a month there. McNabb’s latest is Friday’s concert by English Beat, a ska revival band that had played Neighborhood Theatre many times.
(McNabb also booked the sold-out Bassnectar show at Grady Cole Center and Old Crow Medicine’s concert at Ovens Auditorium coming up in May.)
His new role as a promoter allows him to focus solely on booking instead of the day-to-day of running a club.
“Booking and running a venue is a taxing combo, as Zach and I both know,” says Tilyard. “I prefer to run the venue side of things, so the relationship just fell naturally into place.”
“I’m treating it like a new venue to get agents to know it,” says McNabb, who for now just refers to the two rooms as “big room” and “front room.”
Although he’s experimenting with limited reserved seating similar to the Neighborhood’s old VIP option (VIP at Chop Shop comes with a lanyard and poster for the English Beat show, for instance), McNabb says he’s concentrating on general admission standing shows.
While the expanded Chop Shop can hold 1,200 people, they’re shooting for around 800 capacity events “to retain the space and openness that our patrons have come to enjoy,” adds Tilyard. “It also leaves us room for more if a show draws more than expected.”
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email firstname.lastname@example.org to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less