Sun 9/2 @ 8PM
Phantasy Nightclub co-owner Michele De Frasia said the popular concert venue, which has provided Northeast Ohio’s music scene with diversity, eclecticism and originality over the last four decades, appears to be closing its doors for the last time.
“It’s bittersweet, because it’s like my home,” said De Frasia, who started booking the Phantasy Entertainment Complex in the ’80s. “It’s just a big part of my life that will be missing. I haven’t had time to even contemplate my future because we’ve been trying to figure out what to do with the ship and liquidate stuff. It’s just hard.
“But I have to admit, it’s time to move on. The building was getting older, and somebody wanted to buy it. And, it’s not a done deal yet. We’re still waiting for confirmation on the sale. I don’t like to count on something and then have it fall through. That really gets depressing. And if it doesn’t happen, I’m back to booking.”
The Phantasy Entertainment Complex includes the Phantasy Nightclub, the Symposium, the Chamber and Phantasy Music Theater. The new unnamed buyer doesn’t intend to book music.
The famed location hosted countless local acts, including the first Nine Inch Nails show, as well as Lucky Pierre, the Generators, Insanity and the Killers, SlamBamboo and Ronald Koal and the Trillionaires. There were also early concerts by national touring artists such as the Ramones, Iggy Pop, Sonic Youth and Joan Jett.
“I remember one time during the ’80s Elvis Costello came here to hang out,” De Frasia said. “Also, The The’s lead singer, Matt Johnson, came out one night and started spinning records.”
Looking back, De Frasia said the ’80s were the Phantasy’s heyday.
“That’s just because of all of the original bands,” De Frasia said. “It was just packed every night. It was a lot of fun, and I was younger too.”
Lately the Phantasy Nightclub has booked mostly hip-hop, rock, metal and electronic artists.
“To be honest, I think people are more interested in having food than seeing live music anymore,” De Frasia said. “I don’t know what the deal is. It seems like it’s more important.”
Once closed, the Phantasy Entertainment Complex will become yet another in a long line of defunct Northeast Ohio music venues.
“I hope we’re remembered for supporting the Cleveland music scene and helping individual artists take the first step,” said De Frasia, who after the sale may explore her mixed-media artistic talents.
“We started a lot of national bands. We’ve just been there for musicians. And we tried to have quality sound. That was the most important thing.”
Scheduled for the last Phantasy Nightclub shows are a couple of reunions from bands that played the Detroit Avenue venue over the years. That includes local indie rock act Death of Samantha and punk legends the Floyd Band on Sun 9/2, along with a “mystery guest” and surprises. That afternoon there will be a final “Phantasy Phlea,” where people can pick up rock & roll memorabilia, including souvenirs from the club.
“I think that’s the best thing on earth,” De Frasia said. “We’re going out with a bang, that’s for sure.”
[Written by John Benson]