Update on the Emerson Theater 

Clearing up news of noise complaints

A few weeks ago, a MySpace message made the rounds that legendary local all-ages venue the Emerson Theater was having serious problems with the local community and encouraged music supporters to come to the neighborhood association’s meetings. Josh Russell, manager of the Emerson, says he’s not sure where the incorrect message came from, so he gave NUVO a rundown of the current situation.

In late March, the Emerson was sent a warning by the city, stating that it was in violation of city noise ordinances that prohibit sound amplification “plainly audible to a person with normal hearing from any place on which the sound source is located while the device is being operated from 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.” Two inspections since then have left it up in the air exactly how serious the warning is. Russell believes most of the complaints are coming from one person and hopes to solve the problem soon.

NUVO: What about the city citations?

Russell: About a month before I got that letter, the police would show up and say that there was a noise complaint, but that they didn’t see any problem with it. Then I got a threatening letter in the mail. After that, the next week, the first inspector showed up and said [the venue] was too loud and he could give us a ticket any time. A week after that, after I’d called and talked to people at the Division of Compliance, they sent someone out the next weekend and they said that we were fine. After that, nothing much really happened; I just sort of waited it out. The few people we talked to said nothing much was going to happen. But from what I understand with the people at the city, if there are any problems, we’d have to start shutting down shows at 10 p.m.

NUVO: What are you doing to deal with the sound issue?

Russell: We have some sound insulation that we’re working on putting on the back doors, and I’m always there making sure that nobody opens the back doors. I’ve been back there when the bands are playing, and it’s not that loud. The only things you can really hear [are] the bass frequencies, and it’s pretty hard to stop those from going through the building. If worse comes to worst and something else happens with this, we’re going to have to build a partition wall and have it soundproofed, which will cost a ton of money, but we figure that it’ll be the only way to stay open. I don’t want to have to start shutting the shows down at 10 if I don’t have to

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