Tuesday, October 16, 2007

(Airport) Terminal 5

If you've ever been curious about what 40,000 square feet of noise, skinny jeans, and iridescent blue bathrooms looks like, wonder no longer: Terminal 5 is your cavernous answer. This past Thursday, October 11, the newest venue from the Bowery Presents (papas already to the Bowery Ballroom, Webster Hall, the Mercury Lounge, and the brand-new Music Hall of Williamsburg) opened on the West side lot that used to host Club Exit. Remnants of the space's previous tenant are scarce, totaling just a still-half-pink stairwell and--presumably--some of the same young clientèle that used to shake its collective, gainfully employed booty on Friday and Saturday nights at what was one of the largest clubs in Manhattan.

Terminal 5's official capacity is 3,000 people, but the edifice is spacious enough to accommodate closer to 5,000. Its layout is unnerving at first, with so many stairwells and alcoves and doorways that, for the first time in my life, I was intimidated and mildly insulted by a building. The personal affront stemmed from the conviction that Terminal 5 purposely aimed to bewilder and confound, and on opening night it took until The National galloped into the three-beat shuffle of "Fake Empire" for me to find my happy place: a bank of couches, set up at right angles and supplemented by ottomans, in the far recesses of the second balcony. Like I said, Terminal 5 is huge (fucking huge, even), and the couches are the best example of its expanse. Even on the venue's inaugural night, with a sell-out crowd exploring every inch and alveolus of a just-opened space, we were the only people sitting on the couches. There was no one within even 20 feet of us, and the bar to our left was our own personal watering hole. We've all been to so many crowded, germy clubs that it was a revelation to feel at peace both with my immediate radius and the bottom of my shoes. No gum, no sickly spit, no unidentified liquid, and no adhesive fliers advertising a band's MySpace page.

There is a downside to all this luxury: Terminal 5 is expensive as hell. Tickets for most shows hover around 30-35 dollars, and, as is the case at any self-respecting purveyor of spirits in Manhattan, beers cost about $7.50 and mixed drinks cost even more. Furthermore, while being situated between 11th and 12th Avenues is optimal for housing an enormous building, you have to venture eastward for a few long blocks to reach any subway. Late at night, the walk is a pain in the ass for guys and a safety concern for hotties, not to mention how burdensome the schlep might be in a month or two with snow on the ground and wind gusts coming off the Hudson.

Still, we finally have a comfortable place to see a concert in New York. Admittedly, even my favorite venue (the Bowery Ballroom) has sightline issues and sticky floors. My least-favorite place to see a concert (the Lion's Den) is too loud and too hot, and it's impossible to see the stage from the back half of the room. Terminal 5 is (probably) too big, (definitely) hard to navigate, and on most nights stands to resemble a Spin Magazine Subscriber convention. But you can see the stage, the sound is perfect, there's tons of booze, and the couches might as well be emblazoned with the advertisement, "Make out here without seeming creepy."

The only place half that potentially libidinous is the Delancey, a much smaller club all the way downtown. With a tropical-themed roof and a pleasingly dank, dark cellar sandwiching a respectable bar in between, there are three genres of getting-it-on at your disposal: exotic, grungy, and traditional. In much the same way, Terminal 5 offers a cross-section of feelings, from its industrial warehouse frame to its Yuppie crowd to its homey furniture. So what if it's a long stroll from the train? At least you won't feel like you're packed on the subway the entire time you're there.

Stay Spacious, Terminal 5
DJ Disoriented

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