THE BLOG
09/27/2011 05:17 pm ET Updated Nov 27, 2011

The Fillmore Silver Spring: What's in a Name?

What's in a name? In this case, it's either everything or nothing. As the venue up the road in Silver Spring begins to put on shows, patrons will be greeted by a large sign that reads "Fillmore." The venue is being marketed ad nauseam as "psychedelic," and we are continuously reminded that there are chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and posters on the wall. The controversy that surrounds this building is far larger than these ploys alone, but plenty of that ground has been covered. So much seems to have been made of seemingly irrelevant design, so let's take this step-by-step.

The name is intended to force our minds to travel to a time during which we might catch the Grateful Dead and Miles Davis on the same bill. Allen Ginsburg may be in the audience, and if we were to be handed a drink, its chemical components should not be questioned. The greatest music halls in America gain character from those who walked through the doors and onto the stages. There's history in the stick of the dance floor and occasional bad sight-line. And while friendly people may be employed everywhere, recognizable faces at the door or behind the bar don't materialize overnight. The "trademark" chandeliers are barely worth mentioning. Replication of this kind should be saved for Epcot and themed restaurants.

A Bill Graham Presents poster, meanwhile, is more than nostalgia. These over-sized pieces of paper were partnerships with some of the best of a time and region. They would set the tone for the style of a generation, and play inspiration to every rock poster that would follow. A symbol of Bill Graham's ability to give back while still being a master businessman, posters were given out after the show as to persuade people to head for the exits and allow for clean-up. There's real history here. But with the sale of these images by the Graham estate, the artists have lost much of their intellectual property rights, and the display of these images rings hollow.

Intricacies of a grand theater should be appreciated, but a club not need concern itself too much with design esthetics. Make it comfortable and make it sound good. While concert-goers are a finicky bunch, I assure you that a neutral primary color choice for the walls will do just fine. The use of the aforementioned "psychedelic" is as much cliché as it is kitsch. At this point in time, it should be reserved for parents trying to fit in or undercover police officers in brand new tie-dye shirts. It's been too long since Grace Slick brought psychedelics into the White House for this word to be anything much more than derivative.

Full disclosure of my allegiances: should the 9:30 Club ever face destruction, you would likely find me tethered to the radio tower. That being said, I am not boycotting that place up in Silver Spring. I'll go when the music is good, smirk when it's not, and rejoice when I can avoid the beltway to get to a show. At the end of the day, however, a venue of its size could do us some good, because no one likes seeing music in a cavernous tomb. Sorry, Constitution Hall.