Welcome to Beer City 

Its mayors are Stephen Tyler and Chad Whitehead.

click to enlarge The stage is almost complete at Beer City Music Hall.

Berlin Green

The stage is almost complete at Beer City Music Hall.

While the original Beer City was a lawless and short-lived pre-statehood Panhandle town from which Beer City Music Hall took its name, the collective force behind the venue intends to bring the spirit of the town back to life in the form of a new 500-person music venue and survive much longer than the two years behind its namesake.


The partners in the Tower Theatre revival, Pivot, are also the developers in the complex where Beer City Music Hall and others reside.


click to enlarge Artwork by Jack Fowler adorns the bar. - BERLIN GREEN
  • Berlin Green
  • Artwork by Jack Fowler adorns the bar.

“We have always been aware of the fact that Oklahoma City has historically had a shortage of rooms to build artists and it's really hard to just show up, having never played in the market, and sell out Tower Theatre. You're kind of putting an extra risk into the room by not having the band come through the market, to build their audience and to build their fan base,” partner and talent buyer Chad Whitehead said.


While the idea came to fruition in 2018, the real estate was tied up through 2020 and supply line issues have held up the venue in the final stretch but it’s poised to start holding shows as of April 2, Whitehead said.


The first show at the venue will be Eli Young Band, a country performer, followed by a DJ set from electro-funk duo Chromeo. A couple more country acts follow before the first show that’s already sold out, hardcore band Knocked Loose. Two days later, Spanish-language comedy performer Carlos Ballarta is set to take the stage. This musical hodgepodge is precisely the impetus behind the new venue.


“We are going to be able to put some hardcore shows on over there at Beer City because it's a flat floor with a barricade built in. We can't really do that safely at Tower; there's just those terraces and those drink rails. Not a safe environment for any hardcore dancing or moshing or anything like that,” Whitehead said.


“For the growth of the music industry in Oklahoma City, we have to have a variety of these smaller rooms that build up into rooms like Tower and Jones Assembly and Criterion. Really, what we're doing is filling a gap in our marketplace. Everyone's well aware that ever since Wormy Dog [Saloon] closed, there's not been a mid-sized room in Oklahoma City and Wormy Dog only did a very specific genre,” he said.


While there will be exceptions, the idea is to have shows with ticket prices between $15 and $25.


“Hopefully any night of the week, you can go there and see a great show, find a new artist that you're absolutely going to be on their bandwagon for. It's at the level where most of the artists are still going to be in a van, not a tour bus. It's a different hardship at that level,” Whitehead said.


Because of the acts planned to grace the stage, they put special consideration into the venue’s green room, like a shower and washer/dryer.


“A little extra hospitality goes a long way at the level that Beer City's at and we're really excited to forge some relationships with artists and put on great shows,” Whitehead said.


click to enlarge The green room is designed with traveling musicians in mind. - BERLIN GREEN
  • Berlin Green
  • The green room is designed with traveling musicians in mind.

Tyler, who handles the sound and light design in Beer City, said that options were limited in the Tower Theatre, which had already been built compared to Beer City which was a blank slate.


“We didn't have too much choice. It was more of how do we make the best of that situation, whereas over here, it's an empty box so we had all the choices,” managing partner Stephen Tyler said.


“It's always about what's on stage. That is a thing I've said, in many different conversations. There are places that have live music and then there are venues, and that's my distinction. That's not a knock against anywhere else or anything else, but what is the first thing? Is the first thing your booze or your food and then the music is there, or is the first thing your music and then the booze or the food or whatever is to support that? We are music and events first. Everything else is secondary to that, really,” he said.


“Every aspect of the spot — the functional pieces of the bar, the stage — were designed with our team: our bartenders, our bar managers, our sound techs and lighting design. Everybody got to be involved in the process. So everything kind of has those elements to it that are designed not just for efficiency, but for quality performance. The sound system is probably too big for the room. But, you know, why not?” Tyler said.


The bar will have 16 taps, with eight beers to start on them, plus a broad selection of cans and bottles, including Beer City branded beers, the first of which is produced by Anthem Brewing. More Beer City beers are planned and the hope is to stock the coolers with as many Oklahoma beer brands as possible. The menu is also still in development, but its centerpiece will be a burrito.


“They'll be Mission style, if you've ever been to San Francisco. It's a little tighter of a burrito, so it's not like a food baby that's just gonna fall apart and be a big mess. It's not Chipotle, it's wrapped pretty tight so it's a longer burrito. A lot easier to just eat it if you're just holding it configured in your mouth. We wanted something that's clean and easy to take with you on your way out the door or you can just hold it and walk around and street tacos are not going to be clean, We’re mostly thinking about the fact that you can now sell to-go alcohol and having something to partner with that as well,” Whitehead said.


“At the end of the day, our job is to put on an awesome party, bring the coolest music in and have all the great people and have the best drinks and just have a great time,” Tyler said.

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