There is a bit of a Doctor Who feel to Fête, Providence's newest music venue.
Just down the street from Olneyville N.Y. System wieners, on a curving Dike Street, the club's exterior looks modest, small. But walk in and you are instantly struck by its size and sheen.
At the center of the 14,000-square foot club is the main ballroom. The floor is a brown, shiny poured concrete. The Proscenium stage is the sort used for theatrical productions. Calibrated test microphones hang from the ceiling so the guys at the board can adjust the sound throughout a show.
Technical director Dave Dalzell takes me beneath the balcony to show off a few of the ports built into the overhang to absorb sound. "The room is literally tuned like an instrument," he says.
The club, four years in the making, is the brainchild of sculptor and entrepreneur Nicolas Bauta, the man behind Firehouse 13 and the Steel Yard, and Don King, founding artistic director of the now-defunct Black Repertory Company.
King, who is programming the space, says he wants Fête to be "New England's boutique live music venue." That means a New Orleans series. It means a world music series that will look to bring in some of the Latino and Asian artists who normally bypass mainstream venues when they come through Providence.
This focus on lesser known artists — on sounds many have not heard — will be the club's great strength and its great challenge, King says. But it will not be Fête's sole focus.
The venue will also book big-name rockers like Nils Lofgren, who has played in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band and is scheduled to appear at Fête on October 22.
"My programming philosophy," says King, "is a combination of something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue."
It's just the sort of philosophy that guided Bauta's club design. Fête — in a space that once held an ice cream factory, an auto garage and, most recently, a precision metalwork shop — is festooned with all sorts of recycled objects.
In the lounge, by the main entrance, Bauta has repurposed a huge clock face he peeled off the tower of the old Royal Mills in Warwick late one night many years ago.
He actually dropped the clock that evening, shattering it on the roof of the building. But he returned two years later to pick up the pieces and spent 10 years reassembling it.
On another wall in that lounge: an old map of Providence and North Providence Bauta found at Firehouse 13 — the art and music space that was, as its name suggests, once a firehouse.
Grimy and roughly treated over the years, the map has been cleaned by Q-Tip and in-laid with 600 small lights.
The detail, Bauta says, is about creating a unique experience for clubgoer and musician alike. Too many venues don't treat artists right, he says. He wants a place where they will feel cared for; a place they will talk about to fellow musicians; a place that will showcase what he calls the most potent of the arts.
"When you're given the power of sound and light, you can amplify your vision — your song — to thousands at a time," he says.
Now, Fête just has to attract the thousands.