new_mountain_avl_2014A new music venue in Asheville has been quietly finding its footing as it prepares to vie with The Orange Peel for top music acts, and for music lovers’ dollars. (Locator map for New Mountain AVL, courtesy of The Asheville Map.)

The name of the venue is New Mountain Asheville, and over the past couple of months, the venue has been clicking on all cylinders. It is located at 38 N. French Broad Ave., in the space formerly occupied by Metrosphere/Club 828. The location has been home to a revolving door of club names and managers, none of which stuck for very long.

This summer, New Mountain has hosted great shows, from Eoto and Blackalicious to a bluegrass showcase. It has opened its doors to local acts, and it also hosted soccer fans seeking a big screen to watch World Cup matches.

It’s taken a few months for New Mountain to find its footing. New Mountain took over back in April/May and at first named the venue New Earth Asheville, which was in line with the successful venue in Athens, Ga., called New Earth Athens. (Adrian Zelski is one of five owners of New Earth Athens, but there is no connection between the two venues.

The new Asheville club initially got some bad reviews following an early show that some fans said was badly organized. The name was changed to New Mountain AVL, and they were off and running.

The new owner sunk some cash into much-needed renovations, and it’s been smooth sailing since then. The organization brought aboard locals Bowie Van Ling and Arieh Sampson to handle the music booking, and the summer talent has been stellar. Later this week, the venue will host the DIG Festival and then the Lee Boys, for example.

A spokesman from New Mountain that I interviewed back in the spring outlined other big plans: a rooftop bar, solar panels, a green parking lot and possibly a brewery. The venue and its ownership aims for “conscious and sustainable” development and talent, he said. He also said the goal was no less than “to hang with The Orange Peel.”

A spokeswoman for New Mountain said today that those plans are no longer the vision for the venue, and that they’ll have an announcement next week outlining everything.

The Orange Peel has a national reputation as one of the best small music clubs in the U.S. since it opened 12 years ago. It has hosted a long list of memorable shows, from Smashing Pumpkins to the Beastie Boys, and has been unchallenged in the niche it has held. With AC Entertainment booking its shows, it continues to enjoy top talent. (Earlier this year, The Peel celebrated its recognition by Pollstar as the top ticket-selling venue in the Southeast.)

New Mountain Asheville has a long way to go to match that reputation, but it appears that it’s on its way.

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16 Comments

  1. OP falls into the category of “places to drink, smoke and be loud” (Charlotte Street Pub comes to mind, and to a limited degree, Over Easy) rather than to enjoy good music, food or drink.

    The fact that such places thrive seems to indicate that there is a market for it, probably a very young market. I think they call it “energy”. The same motivation behind eardrum-splitting techno music at a youth clothing store in the Asheville Mall (I forget the name).

    I went to OP once (Dan Timynski) and that was enough for me.

  2. This story is some lazy ass journalism. Ashvegas quotes some months out of date ‘spokesman’ and shares outdated, obsolete information with the public even though they admit in the same freaking article that the vision for the club has changed. The whole mention of comparing this venue with the OP at all was from someone no longer affiliated with or contributing to this venue. Then to top it all off, they run a paragraph ABOUT the OP at the end of the article. There would be zero discussion about whether this venue is going to dethrone the OP if AV would have just reported facts instead of slapping together some badly written press release with some hodge podged ‘facts’ about this new venue, which, let’s face it, probably isn’t going to run AC Entertainment out of town any time soon.

    • I completely agree! I seriously think this was written by a new contributor, an intern or 9th grader, possibly? There are so many non sequiturs. I’m surprised it got posted as is and wasn’t touched up by the editing department at Ashvegas HQ. Lazy, indeed.

  3. boatrocker says:

    Yeah, I agree with most of the comments about not giving the OP my entertainment dollar. I see many other comments that reinforce my beliefs.

    Question then- why do we as a city keep voting that place in polls as ‘best place’ to hear live music? I know those polls are only an Internet popularity contest, but still- that’s the best place you’ve ever heard a show in Asheville?!?

    If the OP is on some Rolling Stone magazine list of best places to hear live music, what does one suppose the other places are like? I’ll take real glass pint glasses, seats (depending on a show) and no TSA style pat downs before I enter the premises.

    I’ll give New Mountain a chance as a venue, provided they don’t pull the same tricks as the OP. I’ll be the one who waits a few months until the bugs are worked out of the system.

  4. Smashville says:

    I have not yet been to this venue but I work nearby and see guys working on it all the time. I am very excited about the possibility of another spot in town that would challenge the all mighty Orange Peel. I will check out a show at New Mountain soon, perhaps Vieux Farka Toure… until then I will just state the reasons why the Orange Peel blows.

    First, I will say I have been going to the OP since it opened. I have seen epic sets. The Beastie Boys was the best concert I have ever been to. However, overall the place is major weak sauce. If the venue capacity is 1,000 why sell 1,100 tickets? Every sold out show in there is jam packed to an uncomfortable level. And of course you are getting beer spilled all over you. The small plastic cups they serve it in ensures that if you manage to retain 75% of it by the time you bump your way thru the crowd the rest will be a lukewarm puddle of sweaty hops. The security wanders thru the crowd shining flashlights in everyone’s face, which is lame. The sound echoes off the back wall and is only good if you are in the middle. As stated by another poster, unless you are in a good spot to reap the benefits of the big ass fan then its hot as shit in the summer.

    I think the only reason the OP attracts so many artists and sells so many tickets is because they haven’t had any competition. So here’s to New Mountain getting it done and at least providing an alternative for some acts when they roll thru town.

  5. Doors for the Lettuce show were 9pm, first act scheduled for 930. Considering Lettuce was booked last minute and it is a fresh venue, I think New Mountain deserves a break for the slightly late door time fudge.

    There is a hell of a lot of work that goes into these productions, (OP included), and it is unfair IMO to harshly critisize any music venue new to the scene. Voice your opinion and even chat with the owner, but please allow the time and $$$ to work out the bugs in such huge operations!

    • ashevillain says:

      The Facebook Event page for the show says 8:00pm.

      My original post about the time discrepancy was definitely not “harsh” criticism. It is constructive criticism.

  6. What Bruce said +1.

  7. Crissa Requate says:

    As the “spokeswoman” in this story, I feel I must clarify… The “spokesman” quoted in this story not a spokesperson for the venue. He was never one of the partners nor a full time employee and is not a current employee of New Mountain. I asked that his quotes be removed because his speculative musings do not necessarily reflect the views of the team. New Mountain is excited to involve the community in their plans, but only when they can deliver 100% on their announcements.

  8. The sound is terrible in the Orange Peel if you are anywhere but out in front. If you are leaning against the walls on the side it is completely unacceptable. Of course, no one would be leaning against walls if they were a first class operation and had seating. Clubs in other cities manage to bring name acts in, provide seating and make a profit. I saw Emmylou & Rodney Crowell at OP and they made two references about how surprised (and sorry) they were to see the audience standing like cattle.

  9. A venue will be unable to “Hang with the Orange Peel” until they can book acts on par with Orange Peel. If they can get acts the likes of the Beastie Boys, Dylan, Smashing Pumpkins, etc… then and ONLY then can they even begin to “hang”…

    Otherwise… keep your heads down and work out your venue’s issues.

    • Like the OP gets that level of act on a regular basis, haha.

      Most of the time Mothlight is outbooking them for newer, more currently relevant acts (unless of course you consider the Umphree’s McGee/Trampled by Turtles set).

  10. Do they have A/C? I’d go there over the Orange Peel just for that if they did. I’m sorry but a Big Ass Fan doesn’t cut it in July and August in WNC.

  11. Bruce Bijesse says:

    The Orange Peel is way overrated. Overpriced drinks, inconsistent sound quality, security w/ flashlights getting in people’s space in the crowd, show’s end early, and people get kicked out all the time for silly reasons. Would much rather see a show at AMH or New Mountain capacity permitting.

  12. ashevillain says:

    I’m not sure if I’d classify it currently as “smooth sailing.”

    I heard a report from Friday’s Lettuce show… The doors were advertised to open at 8pm but in reality they did not open until after 9:15pm (about the time the music was originally set to begin). It’s this sort of operational discrepancy that leads me to believe that it is indeed NOT “smooth sailing” at this point.

    Hopefully, they do get fully organized and provide the Orange Peel with some more competition. If not, it looks like they’ll have more in common with the Asheville Music Hall.

    • avilleplayer says:

      Another report from the Lettuce show. They rehearsed right until doors opened. Guitarist Eric Krasno was not there. Then they took forever to take the stage after the opening band. Venue is not necessarily at fault for these things. What they don’t have is air conditioning. If they do, it doesn’t do the job. Very hot in there.

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