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Arts, Sports & Culture

Pittsburgh's Rex Theater To Reopen As Concert Hall 'Enclave'

rex marquee.jpg
Bill O'Driscoll
/
90.5 WESA
The Rex Theater as photographed in summer 2020.

The Rex Theater will reopen, but not under that name.

The venerable South Side space, built in 1905, is a former movie theater that was reborn as a concert hall only to close in September 2020 because of hardships brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Chris Firman, who formerly operated the Strip District nightclub Static, announced this week that he is taking over the venue and renaming it Enclave.

Starting in September, Enclave will host a mix of live bands in multiple genres, DJ concerts featuring electronic dance music (EDM), and more.

“We want to be inclusive and we want to do it all,” said Firman. “The goal is to program the room so that there’s something for everybody every week.”

Static, which operated from 2011 to 2015, focused on EDM. Firman’s family also ran Club Zoo, in the Strip, and Trib Total Media Amphitheatre, at Station Square.

“Since exiting out of my Smallman Street locations, I’ve been looking for the next project, and thankfully I was able to work a deal to come into the Rex and continue doing live music and bring it back as a venue,” he said.

The Rex had operated as a concert hall for about 20 years, the final 11 of those under the auspices of Grey Area Productions, when it was among the city’s top independent venues, hosting everything from nationally touring band to the local incarnation of The Moth storytelling series. The pandemic shutdown closed most live-performance venues entirely, and Grey Area’s closure announcement came about six months in.

The reopening of the Rex space is good news in a local music scene that saw several key venues close during the pandemic, including brillobox, in Bloomfield, and Hambone's, in Lawrenceville.

Now, pandemic restrictions have been lifted in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, and acts have begun touring again. Firman called the return of live entertainment on a national scale “exciting.”

“I think that the world is ready, and live music is something that brings people together and gives one a sense of community, so being able to have that back is a really big part of getting normalcy back and having people return to regular life. And doing it safely of course and responsibly,” he said.

Firman said he does not plan major changes to the venue, with its landmark East Carson Street marquee, other than a cosmetic upgrade and a new sound system he’s working on with Carrick-based production house Hearcorp.

The first show to be announced at Enclave is a Sept. 25 stop on the solo tour by Miles Kennedy, front man for hard-rock outfit Alter Bridge. But Firman emphasize that other shows are likely to be booked earlier in September.

Firman is seeking promoters to help book the venue. Anyone interested can email info@enclave.com.