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As Live Music Returns, Big Venues Enter St. Louis Market Out West

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The Factory
At 52,000 square feet, the brand-new Factory is a flexible entertainment space with an industrial vibe.

Over the weekend, the St. Louis music scene welcomed a brand-new venue — and it’s a big one: the Factory in Chesterfield.

Able to accommodate up to 3,000 guests, it did just that Friday evening with its sold-out, grand-opening Deadmau5 show. After so many months of few in-person events, the venue’s debut feels especially exciting to Brian Carp, the Factory’s chief operating officer.

“I have been working on this project for just under three years,” he told St. Louis on the Air. “So to see it come to fruition, to see people inside the building and enjoying live music again, has really been very satisfying. And I’m grateful to be a part of the team that is helping to bring an additional opportunity to see live music to the St. Louis area.”

In addition to Deadmau5, the venue is snagging a lot of other national touring acts, with quite the lineup planned in the coming weeks and months.

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Evie Hemphill / St. Louis Public Radio
Local musician and talent booker John Henry said he’s glad to see the region’s mix of concert venues growing, especially after the COVID-19 crisis hit the industry so hard.

But the Factory isn’t the only big new venue shaking up the St. Louis music scene. Maryland Heights’ outdoor St. Louis Music Park will celebrate its long-awaited grand opening Aug. 3. The Centene Community Ice Center, where the music park is located, opened in 2019. But this is the first time it will host music events.

“In the wintertime we’re four ice sheets, and then the outdoor ice rink converts to being an amphitheater,” explained general manager Lance Rosenberg. “And we’ve never been able, since we’ve opened, to really fully have our facility at the full capacity. Now that this virus is on the downside, the ability to bring live music back, the excitement with over 24 shows this year, and our strong partnership with Live Nation, it’s shaping up to be a very fun end of summer, and it’s going to go by really, really fast.”

Local musician and talent booker John Henry said he’s glad to see new concert facilities entering the market on the west side of the region.

“I think that if you look at St. Louis as a metropolitan area, by numbers the city is shrinking a bit every year right now, and I think that as people move further west it provides an incentive for maybe even a larger base of people to see shows,” he said.

“I think the city will always have a major presence as part of the scene — I think it will always be focused there — but with these other venues opening, it provides an opportunity for people that may not make the drive in to see different shows.”

"People are still writing and making music during the pandemic."
Listen as we follow the westward expansion of music venues in St. Louis.

Henry is moving his own Open Highway Music Festival west next month, to the Chesterfield Amphitheater. That shift comes after many years of putting it on at Off Broadway, a smaller venue in the heart of St. Louis.

“My ambition was always to expand it into a larger event that was based more outdoors, and it’s just hard to put that type of event on at the venue,” Henry explained. “So when we decided to make the change [to Chesterfield Amphitheater], it was a case of the easiest solution is often the best solution. … It just made a lot of sense.”

The musician also opened up about his sense of the overall health of the local music community, especially as artists and all sorts of people involved in putting on shows start to emerge from an extremely challenging year.

“You just have to fight to get your music heard and you have to work even harder to get some of the better gigs, and I don’t think that you can keep that spirit down,” Henry said. “People are still writing and making music during the pandemic. And here in St. Louis we’re blessed to have a lot of really great bands, and food and beer scene kind of combined with that together. It was a rough year, but things are definitely looking up.”

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. Paola Rodriguez is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Evie is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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