Creative Economy

New mall venue will feature big shows, BBQ, no hip hop

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New mall venue will feature big shows, BBQ, no hip hop

Crossgates Mall is getting another concert venue.

Skyloft Albany, an 800-person capacity rock club that doubles as a smokehouse barbeque joint, will be opening its doors on April 25. According to Skyloft marketing director Patrick Ryan, the space will also be available to rent out for corporate events, weddings, and other private parties. The venue will join Funny Bone Comedy Club and Jupiter Hall—a slightly smaller concert room that also functions as a multi-purpose event center—as the fourth live entertainment company to open in Crossgates since 2015.

One of Skyloft’s distinguishing features will be flexibility. The room is divided in two by a giant sliding door, which can either remain closed to separate the dining area and the venue, or be opened up to create one large standing room. There’s a small balcony that seats roughly 45 people and two huge bars in the club area. Ryan explains that depending on the event, the bars can be outfitted with stools, and a set of removable tall tables can be brought out onto the floor space. There’s also a massive LED wall on one side of the room that can be used for psychedelic light displays, powerpoint presentations, or even serve as a TV screen.

“We’re gonna have a big-ass Superbowl party,” Ryan says, excitedly.

The layout is a far cry from Skyloft’s other location in Laguna Beach, CA, a multi-floor building with a roof deck that overlooks the ocean. Owner Ivan Spiers runs another Laguna Beach restaurant called Mozambique, as well as the folksy Americana club Daryl’s House in Pawling, NY.

Ryan, who also works for Daryl’s House, says that Skyloft (which began in 2015) was looking to expand into the East Coast for a while now, and the building in Crossgates was “ripe for the picking.” It was initially constructed in 2016 for Rascals, a short-lived steakhouse and entertainment venue that left behind many of the accouterments Skyloft was looking for (big stage, dining area, green rooms, etc.). Despite the previous tenant’s failure, Ryan seems encouraged by the area’s cultural scene.

[Albany] seems like a vibrant music and arts-loving market.” .

He says that the venue’s location within the city was another selling point.

We just felt like we’re filling that void [for a] close to downtown, general admission rock club.”

The Skyloft event calendar was recently updated with a smattering of shows booked as far out as October 2019. The acts range from millennial indie bands like Real Estate and Twin Peaks; underground acts with a substantial following like X and Sleep; to legacy artists like Allman Brothers drummer Jaimoe and guitar virtuoso Gary Hoey; as well a number of tribute bands covering the likes of Tom Petty and The Eagles.

Many of those shows could conceivably be housed at Upstate Concert Hall, a Clifton Park venue with a similar room capacity and target audience to Skyloft. When asked about his awareness of other venues in the Capital Region, Ryan, a Connecticut resident who has yet to visit UCH, stressed that he and Skyloft “want to work well with all our neighbors.”

“We’re just going to pursue bringing in shows that we feel [fit] our space—we’re not looking to disrupt. We’re only looking to complement the existing music scene,” he says.

So far, none of the shows Skyloft has lined up feature any local artists. He says that local showcases and adding local openers to touring bills are things he plans to do going forward, but he’s been distracted by the bustle of the venue’s opening arrangements. While describing what he thinks makes Skyloft an appealing place for musicians to play at, he emphasized the lavish green rooms, great sound system, and high-tech lighting unit that lets touring parties bring their own lighting rigs.

Ryan will be overseeing all of the event booking at the club, but so far he’s partnered with regional promotion company Dan Smalls Presents (who books at Ommegang, State Theatre, Daryl’s House, to name a few places) for a number of the shows on their current calendar. He says that he and Dan Smalls have a longstanding relationship that predates Skyloft, but that he’s interested in working with other local promoters.

“We’re very easy to work with and open to any opportunities.”

Unless those opportunities involve hip-hop. All of the currently announced shows feature artists playing some derivative of rock music, and although Ryan says that they plan to open up Skyloft to electronic music going forward, he sheepishly declined the prospect of booking hip-hop performers.

“I don’t have experience promoting those events and I am not connected in the hip-hop industry,” he says. “So one, I’m not comfortable—it’s not my wheelhouse, I guess is the answer. I’m not a hip-hop promoter.”

“It’s like, if I were to start booking orchestras, that’s also not my wheelhouse,” he adds. “We won’t be booking any classical music.”

Skyloft Albany opens 4/25 with a performance from Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band. Tickets are $25-$30.00 and are on sale now.

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