ON THE RISE Ra Ra Riot.
The Met is back.
Close readers of the Phoenix will recall that our ear-to-the-ground columnists, Phillipe + Jorge, reported a few months back on the first rumblings of a resurgence for the storied blues and rock club.
Now, we offer details on the first shows at the venue, which will open at the site of the defunct Blackstone club in Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket with a revamped sound and light-ing system and a reconfigured stage.
The Ryan Montbleau Band, purveyors of rock and funk, will play the opening night, September 10. And in the weeks that follow, some national acts of note will ride into town: Jenny and Johnny, featuring Rilo Kiley singer Jenny Lewis; Ra Ra Riot; Built to Spill; and Fountains of Wayne.
The club is owned by Rich Lupo, of Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel. And his long-time booking agent, Jack Reich, says the Met — capacity 600 — will fill a hole in the Rhode Island mar-ket.
Ra Ra Riot are building a name for themselves, he says, but probably couldn’t fill Lupo’s, with a capacity of 1200 on the floor and 1900 when the balcony is open. Indie rockers Built to Spill play Boston and New York just about every year, but haven’t been to Providence of late.
“I think a mid-size club has really been lacking,” he says. “A lot of bands play New York, New Haven, and skip right to Boston,” Reich says.
The new Met will be the third iteration of the club. Three childhood friends, Josh Miller, Tom Fairchild, and Riley Hayford, opened the first version — known as the Met Café — in 1975 in the Jewelry District, alongside Route 195.
Hayford played the first night in what quickly evolved into a pass-the-hat venture featuring local acts. In time, national acts like Roomful of Blues and the Fabulous Thunderbirds were playing the club.
The second version of the Met was downtown on Union Street, attached to the second location of Lupo’s in the Peerless Building. It had a decade-long run from 1993 to 2003, disap-pearing when Lupo’s shifted to its current home. The Dave Matthews Band, Oasis, and the Black-Eyed Peas were among the acts that made their Rhode Island debuts at the club.
Lupo says he decided to name the new club the Met in a tribute to the city’s music history. And Reich says the venue will build on its namesake’s legacy of mixing local acts in with regional and national fare — something a club as large as Lupo’s has been unable to do reguarly.
The Met will open in the midst of a recession that has been particularly crippling for Rhode Island — and on the site of a recently failed club outside the capital city, no less. But Reich touts Pawtucket’s affinity for the arts and notes that the club is mere yards from the Providence line.
He adds that he is confident the refurbished interior, combined with full-service offerings of food and alcohol and the ownership’s decades of experience, will mean success. We’ll be watching.
Tickets go on sale July 23 at lupos.com, etix.com, F.Y.E. stores, Round Again Records, In Your Ear, and at the Lupo’s box office. Among the notable acts booked to date:
September 10: Ryan Montbleau Band
September 11: Joe Louis Walker
September 16: Gaelic Storm
September 17: Jenny and Johnny
September 23: Anti-Flag
September 29: Ra Ra Riot
October 2: Built to Spill
October 13: Fountains of Wayne
October 22-23: The Wild Turkey Band and Hometown Rockers
October 24: The Hold Steady
October 29: The Felice Brothers
November 4: Greg Brown