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Congress Theater Owner Defends Venue

By Samantha Abernethy in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 26, 2012 5:40PM

Congress Theater owner Eddie Carranza sat down with WBEZ's Jim DeRogatis to discuss the Deleterious Impact/Public Nuisance hearing that Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) announced he is bringing against the music venue. Moreno claims Carranza hasn't addressed any of his requests for sound reduction, crowd control, underage drinking or security. Carranza claims he has done everything Moreno asks, and he says the Congress is in no better or worse shape than the Metro, the Riviera or the Aragon.

The interview is tense. DeRogatis doesn't hide his contempt for the venue, and he defends Ald. Moreno, saying he "has the strongest record of supporting independent music businesses of anyone in city government." Carranza says Moreno has a personal vendetta. Carranza is clearly fired up, and several times he even interrupts his attorney Homero Tristan to defend the theater.

In the comments section of our post last week, neighborhood blog The Pipeline echoed claims that Moreno is partial to Congress-competitor V-Live. DeRogatis claims, though that "there was anger in his (Moreno's) voice and frustration that you have not been dealing with what he says are serious problems."

Here is an excerpt from the interview, which shows the real reason the Congress doesn't have to clean up its act — despite the sound and the dilapidation, people go there anyway because they still get good acts. Read the full exchange on WBEZ.

Q. You still haven’t really addressed the complaints I hear from many fans about the quality of the experience of seeing live music at the Congress.

Carranza: We sell out all the time. If people didn’t want to go there, we wouldn’t be selling out!

Q. Let me read you an email I just received while we’ve been talking: “It was about 100 degrees inside, they ran out of water about halfway through the show, and the sound is the worst of any venue I have ever been to, ever. The sound swirls into the 300-foot-high dome, it echoes, it’s terrible. I vowed never to return to that sh*thole.” And it goes on…

Carranza: Fine! Five people, 20 people [complain]—who cares? We’re still selling out shows! The Aragon, the Metro, they all have the same comments I’m sure. I’ll go to Yelp and I’ll see the same crap!

This hearing is not to take away our license. It’s just to address the alderman’s ongoing issues that we’ve addressed. We’re going to go there and say the same things we’re saying to you: We’ve met all the conditions. It’s not like we’re fighting for our license. The alderman wanted a hearing so we can discuss this.