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Voltage Lounge: The Intimate Showcase.

September 15, 2016


Text by Matthew Hulmes. Top image by Rachel Del Sordo.

Some people stand back as some of the crazier people mosh around, spread out in a circle. Rings of Saturn, a heavy metal band and headliner of the night, scream hoarse lyrics. A big guy with a thick black beard marches towards the bathroom yelling, “Bleeding!” while holding out his elbow with a gash in it.

Voltage Lounge, located at 421 N. Seventh St., wasn’t always like this. It started as a hookah bar and nightclub with a few showcases. Those days are in the past.

Now, it is no stranger to sold-out shows, having hosted everyone from Black Dahlia Murder, a popular Michigan-based death metal act, last March to Mobb Deep, a classic New York hip-hop duo, in April.

“Those shows have definitely helped, you know, and they were great memories,” says Sean Salm, the booking manager (pictured above). “It’s crazy to see the room filled like that… and to have them in an intimate setting with Voltage.”

Things started to change once Salm started working there.

“I saw it had more potential as a music venue,” he says.

“We have a really dynamic show that’s energetic and Voltage was one of the first places to really cater more to our sound,” says Ray Lewis, lead singer of Last Minute Hero, a local five-piece alternative rock band who have been performing for a couple years now. “We truly stand behind the venue and its growth.”

That growth included a vision to show-off the up-and-coming acts and the legends who have been around. The space inside Voltage has less capacity than places like its neighbor, the Electric Factory, or the TLA. This makes them suitable to showcase acts that are on the cusp of the mainstream.

Salm’s experience with booking shows began at Rio, a bar in his hometown of Levittown, Pennsylvania. There, he booked Dice Raw, a songwriter and collaborator with The Roots.

“Dice played our showcase,” Salm says. “He loved it. He loved the organization behind it.”

From this, Salm was given the chance to work with Dice Raw again, organizing an after-party at Voltage for the annual Roots Picnic.

The big guy who cut himself shows up with a bag of ice taped around his elbow. He gets back into the pit, unafraid. It doesn’t look like anyone at Voltage Lounge is letting anything slow them down.

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