Founder Previews New Infinity Hall

Infinity Hall founder and owner Dan Hincks was a guest on the Aug. 16 edition of Greasy Tracks where he talked about the pending opening of the new Infinity location on Front Street in Hartford.

Not a bad seat in the house: A view from the orchestra seating area at Infinity Hall in Hartford. (Chris Cowles photo)

Not a bad seat in the house: A view from the stage at Infinity Hall in Hartford. (Allan Camp photo)

Click here for the Hincks interview.

Hincks spoke in-depth about the 17-month, $6.8-million project and the anxiousness related to finally opening the doors to the new 500-plus seat club where he expects to present 250 shows a year.

“This was like building a ship in a bottle,” Hincks quipped at a media event on Aug. 21 as he discussed the process of gaining the funds, finalizing the design and ultimately completing the long construction of the venue — including digging through a pre-existing concrete floor and down nearly five feet below street level to create an intimate and acoustically friendly space.

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Spacious yet intimate: A view from the orchestra section at the Hartford Infinity Hall. There is stage-level seating for 415 and 90 for the mezzanine. (Blue Chip Photography photo)

Initially slated to cost $5 million, the project was hit with structural changes, delays and cost overruns, putting Hincks in a position of seeking additional funding. What began as a primarily privately-backed venture culminated with the state stepping in with nearly $2 million in loans. “I love the creative side,” Hincks said, “but going out and getting the money was essential.”

The hall opens officially on Aug. 28 with California alternative rock band Toad the Wet Sprocket playing the official inaugural show.

“This is a historic and memorable day,” said Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra at the event, “and I’d like to thank Dan (Hincks) for being in Hartford.”

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy was enthusiastic about the opening, remarking that it was a long time in the making.

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Renowned reputation: The Norfolk Infinity Hall opened in 2008, survived the crushing recession and emerged with a great reputation with artists and concertgoers. (Photo courtesy of Infinity Hall)

“I’m not sure if three and a half years ago people would have predicted it (opening) would be happening now,” Malloy said, adding how the opening of the Norfolk location in 2008 coincided with the start of a massive economic recession.

“We’ve seen it (Infinity) succeed in Norfolk through some of the toughest economic times,” Malloy said, “but not only survive that (recession), but to increase its footprint here is remarkable.”

Noting that the Hartford venue is booked until mid-January 2015, Jack Forchette, Infinity’s director of entertainment says that he doesn’t foresee any real challenges when it comes to buying talent for two locations.

“We’ve got so many options, based on the size of the two venues,” said Forchette. “There are hundreds of bands that I’d like to bring in, but the great thing is that there are a lot of artists who want play (at Infinity).”

The high-end sound system was custom-designed by d&b audiotecknik of Germany and Hincks is confident it will equal the renown the Norfolk venue has gained when it comes to aural satisfaction for performers and concertgoers alike.

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Looking after the artists: Well-appointed band rooms and satisfying food are part of the good reputation Infinity Hall has with touring artists. (Chris Cowles photo)

The reputation of the 300-seat Norfolk venue will benefit the Hartford location, according to Hincks and Forchette who said bands appreciate how well they are treated by the staff.

“They (bands) all love the sound and the intimacy of the venue and that’s what we’ve tried to bring to Hartford,” said Hincks, “but another thing they love is the kitchen and how good the food is.”

Similar to Norfolk, the Hartford location has a bistro, albeit a larger one which seats nearly 100 people. The concert hall designs are similar — each having a orchestra seating area and a mezzanine. Hartford can accommodate 415 at the stage level and 90 in the mezzanine. For a general-admission show with no seats, the club will hold more than 700.

Greasy Tracks, the longest-running soul-based radio program in the state, airs Saturday’s 3:30-5:30 p.m.

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