Words & Deeds

Down in front! Knitting Factory wants its concert capacity increased by nearly 200 fans

Alt-folk-rockers Rainbow Kitten Surprise played for this sold-out crowd at the Knitting Factory in Boise on Aug. 14.
Alt-folk-rockers Rainbow Kitten Surprise played for this sold-out crowd at the Knitting Factory in Boise on Aug. 14. Fadewoodlive.com

If you’re a fan of live music in Boise, you’ve probably experienced a sold-out show at the Knitting Factory Concert House.

Perhaps my cranium has even blocked your view. (Normally, I try to stay in back. Being 6-foot-2 is what it is.)

Either way, the maximum legal capacity at the Knit has been 999 people since it opened in 2008 — and for seven years before that, when the venue was called The Big Easy Concert House.

But things might be getting cozier.

Knitting Factory, 416 S. 9th St., wants its legal capacity to be increased to 1,195 people, according to an application with the city of Boise. The size of the venue would not magically get bigger. Just the number of fans allowed into a busy concert.

“Knitting Factory is always looking for ways to improve our guest’s concert experience,” general manager Gary Pike explained via email. “Two years ago, we completely updated our sound system, lighting and mixing consoles. We also remodeled the upstairs restaurant and bar and rebranded that area as 9th St. Parallel.

“Now we are in the preliminary stages of exploring what else is possible. ... These improvements may include updating our bar and concessions area, improve the sight lines to our stage, increase the number of bathroom facilities, and update our fire alarm and emergency exits. These improvements could possibly increase our total capacity.”

For fans, there’s one obvious question: How would a guest’s overall concert experience be improved at a sold-out show by adding 200 bodies to a room that’s not becoming larger?

Pike did not respond to a follow-up email last week.

Bumping capacity would be beneficial to Knitting Factory. The club could host larger, potentially more profitable events. The ability to serve nearly 1,200 fans would make it even more competitive with the 2,200-capacity Revolution Concert House in Garden City.

Fans certainly wouldn’t frown on the idea of another bathroom and improved exiting, either. Those are the only improvements listed on the application, which is centered on increasing capacity.

But it’s hard not to be spooked by the prospect of cramming more Boiseans into a packed Knitting Factory. If you’ve been to a sold-out show with 999 sweaty concertgoers, you know the drill. It can be challenging to see the stage, let alone find a little breathing room.

As Pike points out, the Knit has made recent upgrades. That new sound system was a difference maker. Until we know more, fans will just have to trust that their best interest is being kept in mind here.

“As exciting as this all sounds, it’s still very early in this process,” Pike said. “At this point we are just exploring what may be possible.”

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