This month we’re taking a look at a new trend in live music venues, the hookah lounge. A sister location to Spiritual Haze, Electric Haze is a new 21+ lounge offering the hookahs you love alongside live music and craft drinks in Worcester MA. It’s is 21 plus, and open 7 days a week 6pm-2am.
The venue has a perfectly size appropriate sound system including a 16-channel presonous mixer, JBL speakers and moitors, and Shure mics. Two different sound people are regulars for shows, and when certain bands need additional sound reinforcement the venue has the ability to bring in additional sound equipment and personnel.
We had a chance to catch up with Victoria Mariano, who is the proprietor and is programming the music at Electric Haze. The lounge is located at 26 Millbury St, Worcester, MA 01610, and you can reach them by phone at (508) 799-0629. Or visit them on facebook here.
LMNR: What caused you to open up a nightclub, a bout of temporary insanity?
I think yes I would be insane to start a night club haha.. but we don’t really consider it a nightclub, we consider it a hookah lounge. There are at least 3-4 nights a week that people just come in to enjoy our hookahs and craft drinks.
Electric Haze was born out of the need to expand Spiritual Haze. Spiritual Haze was consistently having long lines and waits and rather than remodeling the building to fit people, my business partner and I decided to go with a second location with a little different theme ** -live music and bar, rather than smoke shop and cafe to go alongside our hookah lounge business model**.
LMNR: What about your background do you think helped you develop the skills to go about this?
I was a business/entrepreneurship major at Clark University, and I worked full time for a business development company called Innercity Entrepreneurs. I was constantly trained in both school and at work on how to make a business succeed and grow. Then, I opened Spiritual Haze hookah lounge in 2007, so I have been running that for almost 6 years now.
LMNR: What is your musical vision when it comes to programming for Electric Haze?
I work hard to have a very diverse and talented line up. All music artists must be professional and very experienced. The point is to come in for the atmosphere, not because you know who is playing. Every night we have music, you don’t have to worry about knowing who it is because our customers know we book great music.
LMNR: What can musicians expect from their performance experience?
The room looks and feels classy but comfortable. The room is perfect for sound, and we really care about everyone, including the musicians, having a great time.
LMNR: What can an audience member expect? What is unique about the room that is going to be special for the audience?
We will never book someone who is not good at performing live, so your ears won’t hurt or ever feel like you need to leave. It’s also intimate enough to get close to the artist and talk to them afterwards, but it’s big enough to have plenty of seats to lounge, and plenty of dance floor space. We are never going to oversell the space so becomes too crowded. We care a lot about art and atmosphere and you can really feel that in there. All of our products are top quality, so you never have to worry about getting a bad or overpriced drink or hookah.
LMNR: What is it about Worcester? It represents a particular challenge for night clubs in the past; how is putting on shows in Worcester different from other places, and what can the Worms expect from Electric Haze that is particular to Worcester?
Worcester is overall a pretty low-income city; people don’t really have a lot of spending money. A lot of nightclubs in Worcester were pricing things at Boston prices and were expecting Worms to afford it. At Electric Haze, sure we have quality drinks and hookahs, but we still mark it as low as we possibly can so our neighbors can afford it. Worcester has a large artist community and a lot of nightclubs were opening with no artistic feel or uniqueness to them. Just your typically overpriced bar with mostly cover bands. Worcester folks know when an owner really cares about its customers, and what the community needs/wants/can afford, which is how Electric Haze operates, and it’s why we are starting off strong already. Also, Worcester is extremely diverse, so having a diverse array of music includes everyone.
LMNR: What are some of your favorite musical memories that have happened at the Haze already?
Halloween night with Manhattan Project, everyone dancing in their costumes. Not wanting them to stop was really fun. Grand opening with Consider the Source, their unique middle-eastern sounds pared with hookah was really nice. Honestly, those are just a few examples but every night I’ve worked with live music, it’s been very memorable, all the acts we bring in are really talented, it’s impossible to just pick a couple memories.
LMNR: How is the modern world of social networking and technology being brought in to your marketing efforts for shows?
I don’t believe in traditional marketing efforts, I don’t think anyone is going to come because you are obviously trying to get them to give you money. I would much rather put out our information and shows and have them come because they want to, not because we are trying to convince them to come. I don’t do any paid advertisements at all. I’ve relied on social networking, groupon/living social, and word of mouth to advertise my companies, and so far that’s been working great.
LMNR: What are some of the challenges here in the new millennium in terms of promoting club shows and how will you be meeting them?
I think the challenge comes from so many clubs booking bands that aren’t ready to play live yet. Then people are weary of going because they think it might suck if they don’t know the music artists. I think it’s going to take some time for us to be known as a place that always has good music because of how much damage some other inexperienced bands and club owners have done. Also, Worcester is so close to Boston and Providence, that when you’re on facebook looking for a show to go to, a million events pop up within an hour, so there really is a lot of choices when it comes to going to a show.
LMNR: What are some of the upcoming shows you are particularly excited for?
Oh man that’s hard too lol.. so many good shows coming up..
I would say November 9th Peter Prince and the Trama Unit | Lyle Brewer Trio ft: members of The Ryan Montbleau Band, November 22nd Turkuaz and the Hornitz, and the Alchemystics on December 27th.
LMNR: If you had the ability to book anyone ever into the room, what would your dream show be?
I’m a very practical person, I don’t tend to dream things I don’t think I can make happen. Although major name acts that I love like Radiohead and Dave Matthews would be amazing, my mind tends to immediately go towards incredible bands I love that I might actually have a chance of getting, like John Browns Body, Ryan Montbleau, STS9 (little less likely than the others).
LMNR: In your opinion, what are some of the things that you have seen bands do that really made their shows succeed?
When they put a lot of energy into the show, they will get a lot of energy back from the crowd. If a band seems tired at all, it really rubs off on the audience. Also, the sound level is really important, some bands don’t have enough live show experience and think playing real loud is good, but it’s really not. It hurts the audiences ears, so they are not enjoying it and don’t really know why. I have a strict policy not to book bands again who don’t understand how to play at the right volume. I try not to book them in the first place but sometimes it’s real hard to tell how they are going to be. The bands who play at the right volume, and really know how to give each other space in the song to play, the crowd is instantly way more interested, and doesn’t even think of wanting to leave early.
LMNR: What are some of the things that bands should definitely avoid doing to make their shows more successful?
Playing too loud for sure. It’s a hookah lounge, people want to be able to enjoy the music and chat with their friends.