Rocks Off got word today that Meridian (1503 Chartres) is going through a hefty remodeling and restructuring project. Sometime next week, the Warehouse District venue will be rechristened Wired Live, with all-new signage and from talking to manager and booker Mike Kelley, a whole new attitude and business model. Meridian has undergone a myriad of changes in the past two years. First, previous operator Bob Fuldauer began trying to utilize the venue's wasted space on the first and second floors. An art gallery and tattoo shop opened up, and plans were made for a bowling alley and massive sports bar on the ground floor. Those plans were scuttled and what Meridian ended up doing was creating a smaller sports bar in one part of the second floor and moving the venue's main entrance to the Chartres side instead of on the north and south sides of the building. This created some confusion at first, but was quickly sorted out. Last summer, Fuldauer left the venue, citing health problems; many of the operation's longtime associates, including John Escamilla, D'Neta Cavazos and Jill McKee, left for other musical ventures soon after. Kelley, previously from Northside metal/emo venue Java Jazz, began managing and booking the venue. He brought most of his steadily touring stable along with him, a change that allowed for better value and a wider variety of bills.
Today Kelley told Rocks Off that the complex will now be four new parts. The main room will stay the same - it's the club's big draw and allows them to book larger shows, including upcoming Mike Snow and Booker T dates.
The Red Room is to be remodeled into something akin to the House Of Blues' loungy Foundation Room, meaning no more shows inside it. The sports-bar area will become the Channel Room and will act as the venue's smaller setting for local metal and alt-rock showcases. Kelley will book most of the acts on that stage, and hinted that one of the lower floors will be turned into a separate dance club.
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The changes behind the soon-to-be-former Meridian are being led by new owner Anosh Ahmed, perhaps telegraphing a bigger nightlife shift into that part of Houston. Development is ramping up, especially in regards to housing and bars. It doesn't hurt that that district is just blocks away from two of the city's largest sports complexes, Toyota Center and Minute Maid Park.
It makes more sense for the people who catch a game at one of those two places to walk or take a quick cab or car ride into the Warehouse District to do their after-partying. It makes a hell of a lot more sense to go there than to brave the cops staked out on Washington or the treacherous red-light journey into Midtown or even Montrose.
Wired Live's first show is set for Saturday, February 6, when the venue welcomes Chicago house DJ Mark Farina to the main room. The venue's lineup for spring and fall has not yet been announced, but Kelley did throw out some pretty cool names to help usher in the complex's new era. Rocks Off will tell you who they are... eventually.