In the hallucinatory Hollywood dreams of Live Nation concert promoters, it must appear as the Optimus Prime of live music venues, transforming at will from a cozy 2,500-seater, to a 4,000-seat indoor theater, and then into its final form: an open-air amphitheater with room for 8,000.
The Pavilion—corporate sponsored name change likely pending—owes its flexibility to a hangar-like build that will serve as the focal point of the Irving Music Factory, a sprawling $180 million, 250,000-square-foot entertainment mega-development on the way to Las Colinas. When finished late this year or early next, the entire complex will manufacture fun via an Alamo Drafthouse movie theater and more than 20 restaurants and smaller venues. An office tower is also in the works.
The Pavilion, debuting this weekend with ZZ Top (Sept. 9), has taken a blockbuster approach to booking its opening month, one that’s sure to draw some envious glances from similar-sized venues throughout North Texas. After the famed Texas trio, there’s Steve Winwood (Sept. 19), KISS (Sept. 27), and a Ms. Lauryn Hill-Nas doubleheader (Sept. 28), to name just a few. Looking down the road, the Pavilion has positioned itself as an appropriate venue for less rock and roll programming, lining up Bill and Hillary Clinton for a speaking engagement on Nov. 17.
Construction of the rest of the complex is still underway, and the Music Factory has yet to really take shape. It’s too early to pass judgment on what the Mid-Cities’ latest amusement park will eventually be. The postponement of the Pavilion’s originally planned opening last week, announced barely a day before Dave Chapelle was set to take the stage, did not make for a great start, however.
These sometimes homogenous master-planned entertainment districts often lack the character of more organically developed nightlife-friendly neighborhoods. But the Music Factory will, for better or worse, bank on its scale and location, near DFW Airport and in the center of North Texas sprawl. It makes sense that the Las Colinas area, so adept at building corporate offices and pulling in big business, would set its sights on building corporate live music venues and pulling in big entertainment.
Dallas fun-seekers should be heartened to see that the complex is, relatively speaking, accessible to public transit, with the DART orange line dropping off at the nearby Irving Convention Center. And with Irving itself seeing significant population growth, why wouldn’t the city want an impressive live music venue to call its own?
Perhaps most of all, there’s plenty of reason to believe that if Live Nation builds it, they will come. The largest events promoter in the world has so much of the live music industry cornered, they will have to come. They won’t be able to see the Flaming Lips (Sept. 30), Wilco (Oct. 3), or the Roots (Oct. 17) anywhere else. Live Nation could postpone the opening another week, sell the Pavilion’s naming rights to Blackwater, institute a new $10 service fee, and tell ticket-holders to go jump in a lake, and we’d still pony up to go see ZZ Top.
At the risk of mixing science fiction metaphors, the Pavilion may be less Transformers and more Star Trek. Resistance is futile.
A version of this article appears in the September issue of D Magazine.