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Zac McBee on the stage he will soon begin reconstructing at Hattie's Tap & Tavern.

Ryan Pitkin

Zac McBee on the stage he will soon begin reconstructing at Hattie's Tap & Tavern.

How To Turn a Bar Into a Legitimate Music Venue 


"Clarity is key."

That's a phrase that Zac McBee kept coming back to as he walked around Hatties Tap & Tavern showing Creative Loafing all the things he plans to do in the bar to make it a legitimate music venue by the time summer rolls around.

"We can have clarity and you don't have to peel people's faces off," McBee said. "Customers are not just here to see music, they're here to have an experience. They're here to have a date or to meet their old best friend and have a good time. If the music's blaring so damn loud, it's hard for them to do that."

Listed below are some of the key elements of the work McBee will be doing in the coming months.

Stage The stage currently sits eight inches high and echoes loudly when people walk around on it. McBee plans to raise it nearly a foot to about 18 inches. He'll put a half-ton of sand under the stage to deaden the echo and place two 12-inch sub-woofers under it as well.

"The subs that are going up under the stage, they're auxiliary. You want that punch in your chest, and that's where it's going to come from."

Sound McBee plans to stagger sound treatment panels across the ceiling in a checkerboard fashion. The panels are two feet by four feet, one inch wide and fireproof. The duvetyne fabric on the panels is made to absorb light and, more importantly, sound.

"That's how you really shape your room, it's not your speakers or anything like that. Your room changes its tone the more people you have because you have a bunch of water bags, that's all we are. If you can control the initial sound of it through treatment, it tones it down a little bit. But you don't want to go super crazy to make it completely dead."

Speakers "We're going to have four speakers on the left and four speakers on the right, and these are going to be zoning speakers. We'll have to quit playing bar music through the PA system, because when you crank it up it gets to be too much and you can't communicate. Those speakers are designed to pierce through a crowd."

Curtains McBee will install curtains around the entire stage, with a track that will allow staff to shrink the stage at will for smaller events.

"The side curtains are going to be able to trolley inward and outward to the wall. If you have smaller acts — if we have spoken word or we have people doing a Ted Talks or Moth Radio Hour or something like that — they can just tell their stories. Maybe some acting, and you don't want that huge stage feeling, you can bring it in a little bit and have it focused."

Cameras McBee's original plan includes placing all TVs inside and outside on a splitter so that they can run simultaneously with a 6K projector he'll be installing soon. This will be effective for Game of Thrones watch parties or other presentations.

Later on, McBee plans to aim a camera at the stage and connect it to the splitter as well, so folks taking a smoke break or just a breather won't miss any of the on-stage action.

"We'll throw the volume outside, so if it's too crowded and you don't feel like dealing with all that at this moment and you want to take a break, go outside, the band's going to be paying on the TV and the music will be playing for you, too."

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