What: Rock performance space
Where: Across the waterway next to Hard Rock Cafe
Tickets: $10 and up, depending on the act
Hours: Most shows start at 8:00 p.m.
The Orlando Hard Rock Cafe may be the world’s largest, but what really makes it special is its next door neighbor, Hard Rock Live, the chain’s first live performance venue. Underneath that retro take on Rome’s ancient Coliseum is a cutting-edge rock performance space loaded to the gills with sound, light, and video technology, including two video walls flanking the stage. In its standard configuration the joint holds 1,800. If they pull out the seats and turn the first floor into a mosh pit they can pack in 2,500, which still makes it “intimate” by rock standards. At the other end of the spectrum, they can use flywalls and props to shrink the performance space to the size of a truly intimate club.
The large stage (60 feet wide and 40 feet deep) offers bands plenty of room in which to rock and the computerized lighting system, strobes, and fog machines create the kind of dazzling effects that rock fans used to have to roll up and bring with them. Most important for the true aficionado, the sound system answers the burning question, “What does it sound like at ground zero of a nuclear explosion?” In other words, the place totally rocks.
Given the limited capacity, it’s unlikely that the real giants of rock will be able to play here (at least not too often), but Elton John has fluttered like a candle in the wind here and hemi-demi-semi-stars both rising and falling are booked here with some regularity, including thus far the likes of Weird Al Yankovic, the Pet Shop Boys, Indigo Girls, and Elvis — Costello, that is.
If the music isn’t blowing you away, you can repair to one of six bars and, depending on the show, you may be able to get something to nosh on from the Hard Rock Cafe kitchen, like hot dogs, wood-oven pizzas, or nachos.
Ticket prices are moderate, with most acts checking in at between $25 and $35 with the occasional show rising to $75 or so. Every once in a while you can catch an evening of rocker wannabes for as little as $10. Tickets can be purchased at the box office or, for an additional fee, from TicketMaster at (407) 839-3900. Tickets for some events can also be purchased online at www.hardrocklive.com. Most shows begin at 8:00 p.m., with the box office opening at 10:00 a.m. Information about upcoming events is available by calling (407) 351-5483 or online at the address just given.
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