Infinity Music Hall To Open Venue At Hartford’s Front Street

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Norfolk-based Infinity Music Hall and Bistro is expected to open a 600-seat live music and restaurant venue at downtown Hartford’s Front Street next fall, with the help of state funding.

“Infinity Music Hall will be a great addition to our capital city, one that will complement the other top-notch entertainment venues,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said today, in announcing the successful live music venue’s expansion into Front Street, the second tenant of the entertainment district.

The Front Street location of Infinity Hall, shown at left, is on the corner of Columbus Boulevard. The Connecticut Convention Center is visible in the background. (CLOE POISSON / HARTFORD COURANT)

The $5.2 million project would follow the opening of a movie theater at Front Street, which is expected to open by early November. The concert hall and restaurant would be located on Columbus Boulevard on Front Street’s northeast corner. 
 The concert hall and restaurant would be located on Front Street on the northwest corner of the complex. (Updated at 12:34 p.m. on Thursday with corrected location.)

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra said the new venue would “create the energy that’s meant to exist” on Front Street.

“I think there will be good synergy,” Segarra said of the Front Street businesses. “I’m glad to see it’s finally come to a place where we can embrace it.”

Hartford’s Infinity theater would include more than 9,100 square feet on a main level, with a mezzanine adding about 4,000 square feet. By comparison, the movie theater is almost 19,000 square feet.

The expansion is contingent on $1.3 million in state bond funding that has been requested by the state Department of Economic and Community Development. The bond commission is scheduled to vote on the request Oct. 3.

Jack Forchette, director of entertainment and business development for Infinity Hall, said the new venue will have a lot in common with the original: it will create an intimate feel for guests and the artists who play there.

“You won’t see chrome and mirrors,” he said. “We’re hoping for an actual reproduction of what we do in Norfolk.”

He described the Norfolk setting as “acoustically pristine” and likened it to “a modern day Troubadour or Whisky A Go Go” — two intimate musical venues in West Hollywood that have featured top artists.

“When this gets done, it’s going to be very cool,” Forchette said.

The Hartford location will feature the same variety of musical guests, ranging from the smaller, lesser known bands to popular artists.

LeAnn Rimes, Phoebe Snow and Kevin Costner and the Modern West are some of the artists who have played at Infinity Hall.

Once the Hartford location opens, Forchette said, he hopes to book musical guests who will play at both venues.

“Artists who play much bigger venues for more money come here all the time,” he said. “What we’re hoping to bring to Hartford is exactly that. Let’s say there’s two bands. I’m hoping one plays in Norfolk one night and in Hartford the next, and the other plays in Hartford one night and Norfolk the next.”

Suzanne Hopgood, chairwoman of the Capital Region Development Authority, said Wednesday that the convention center was a deciding factor in both the movie theater and Infinity Hall leases. She also said an announcement would soon be forthcoming on a third tenant, a restaurant. She declined to comment on reports that Capital Grill was the likely tenant.

Dan Hincks, Infinity Hall’s president said the venue “is delighted to establish its second location for intimate concerts and creative cuisine at the Front Street Entertainment District in Hartford — and are thrilled to be a part of Hartford’s renaissance.”
The 300-seat Infinity Hall location in Norfolk has hosted more than 900 shows and served over 100,000 patrons since first opening in 2008.

“We are dedicated to bringing the best music in the world, of all genres to a high quality concert hall in a relaxed environment,” Hincks said. “We have become known for our pristine acoustics, our friendly staff and our first rate restaurant at our Norfolk location. We look forward to bringing those same high standards of quality to Front Street Hartford location as well.”

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52 thoughts on “Infinity Music Hall To Open Venue At Hartford’s Front Street

  1. GerryG

    Fabulous! Can’t always get out to Norfolk. They have some great performers come through.A real plus for Hartford!

  2. efg

    Wow! This is great news for Hartford. We wont have to drive to Northampton or Norfolk to see this kind of show. I can’t wait!

  3. Mike

    This is awesome! I’m so sick of seeing shows in arenas with horrible sound just so they can pack us in. I just recently saw Marc Cohn at the Infinity Music Hall in Norfolk, CT and the venue was great. The sound was amazing and the whole place made for an amazing experience. Rebecca Pidgeon opened up for him and she put on a spectacular show. Her voice is amazing and her new album Slingshot is really good. I can’t wait to see a show in this new venue since it is much closer to me than Norwalk, but I will definitely be going back to the venue in Norwalk in the near future. I saw Aaron Lewis in the Caberet Theater at Mohegan and it was amazing. The sound was incredible. Now he plays one show in the arena instead of fifteen shows in the smaller venue. It is still an awesome show, but not nearly the same quality of sound and the experience just isn’t the same.

  4. Rob

    This may be the first time I’ve read something in the Courant with all positive comments. Its about time! I agree that this will be a great addition to the city, and will help to fill other space at Front St as well.

  5. janet

    For those of you who posted – have you ever heard of The Sounding Board in West Hartford? We have been presenting the best folk music around for 39 years!
    The opening of this club kind of scares me a little because of the Sounding Board and the music that we both present. Our 40th is next year and I would like to see us continue at least till the 50th!

    1. Penny

      Hi Janet, Don’t feel threatened. There’s room for everyone. Infinity is not strictly folk music and has some pretty big names appearing.

      1. janet

        I know that they present all kinds of music but they sometimes get those “big names” in folk music and then I can”t afford to hire them. But my hats off to them for trying another venue. And I do not feel threatened.

    2. Robert

      The sounding board people can be rude and condescending. Maybe this will scare you into some polite behavior toward people.

      1. janet

        excuse me? Sounds like you are the one that is rude? If you have a problem, please email me and we can talk privately.

        1. janet

          excuse me? If you have a problem, please email me and we can talk privately. Perhaps in the past – when other people ran it – this might have been true. We are all very friendly (well at least I think so) and will go out of our way to make your night enjoyable.

          1. janet

            Robert – I must apologize for my remark. We are an all volunteer organization and we WANT to be there every Saturday. We enjoy the music and we enjoy the people that make up our audience every week. There was a couple of years when my family did not run the Sounding Board, and because of the personnel, we lost a lot of our members. We have worked hard to rebuild that trust and are succeeding.
            I would like you to be my guest some Saturday. Just come on down and introduce yourself at the door as Robert from the Courant and we’ll give you free admission!

  6. Harry Hampton

    Even though I don’t have any interest in this type of venue it sounds OK. I guess if the State is willing to pick up the bill for a significant portion of the expenses after paying for most of the initial development it should make it a lot easier to make money.
    This has a much better chance of doing well then another movie theater in the area.

  7. Rod

    I will answer Janet’s question – I have lived here for over 52 years and NO, I’ve never heard of the Sounding Board.

    You should advertise, but not here. For this article is about the Infinity taking a gamble to bring good music downtown, something that’s been sadly missing.

    Rod

    1. janet

      to rod- we can’t afford to advertise – we are non profit. I wish them well and sorry if it seems like I was advertising the Sounding Board

  8. Penny

    Yay! I’ve often seen shows there that I wanted to go to, but it was just too far. This is great news! Can’t wait!!

  9. GerryG

    Janet – so how do we fnd out about the Sounding Board? Do you list your events anywhere? Maybe you can list it Cal or the Advocate? Sorry if you already do, but I never heard of it and I’ve lived in central CT for 18 years.

    1. janet

      just google the Sounding Board. We do list in most of the newspapers, including the Cal section. We have absolutely no advertising budget so we rely heavily on free listings.

      1. Susan Forbes Hansen

        Infinity Hall is a multi-genre establishment and it DOES feature excellent folk/Americana performers in its roster. [Perhaps now the Courant will pay more attention to such performers!] There are other venues including the Sounding Board that also present fine performers, including the Roaring Brook series in Canton, the Vanilla Bean in Pomfret, Branford Folk in Branford, some folk performances at Bridge Street Live in Collinsville, and more. There are also series with just occasional performances, as well as house concerts. These events are always announced on the folk-based shows on WWUH/91.3 and WHUS/91.7, and WWUH has a folk-line at (860) 768-5000 (and of course the folk events at the Norfolk AND Hartford Infinities are/will be included).

        I’m wondering about the “rude and condescending” comment about the Sounding Board — was your experience recent? There were a couple of people involved many years ago who weren’t always polite, but I think you’ll find that the volunteers at most coffeehouses are glad to share the music with you.

        As far as combining alcohol and music: I’ve found no matter what the venue (whether an outdoor festival or The Bushnell), the mix can occasionally be disturbing to other attendees who are not imbibing and who really want to enjoy the music. Sometimes that enjoyment is interrupted by alcohol-induced behavior that’s very distracting.

  10. Jim

    Not to be a downer, but I’ll believe it when I see it. Front Street has had a lot of big plans announced, then dashed. Anyone remember when the Shaboo Inn was supposed to be reborn in Hartford on Front Street? Toad’s Place? Or the ESPN Sports Zone? I disagree with Harry Hampton, the progress on the movie theatre is encouraging, having a theatre in between Manchester and the other end of Hartford is a good idea and will probably do as well, if not better than a music venue that would really do its best business after dark. A good movie theatre can do business all day.

    1. Harry Hampton

      I say another movie theater because even the develop said that they need to pull people who don’t live in Hartford to succeed and I can’t see people outside Hartford driving into Hartford, paying to park, and then probably seeing a movie they can see more locally to them. In the last few years East Harford, East Windor and the Brainard field movie theaters have closed or in the case of Brainard merged (and took over screens that they couldn’t fill). If so many are closing why will opening one with the drive and parking succeed.
      A music venue is much more unique.

      1. Jim

        The theatres in East Hartford and East Windsor only closed because they couldn’t renovate to the stadium-style seating found in Manchester and Enfield. Cinema City was in a bad location that had little else to attract patrons in the evening and its theatres were too large for the type of films they showed. Yes, a music venue is unique but I doubt any families will take their kids there when there’s a movie theatre up the street. As for parking, I don’t hear anyone complaining about the cost of parking at the Science Center or the Convention Center when there’s a car show or the Comicon convention is in town. Plus this isn’t a Multiplex theatre and can support a smaller audience during the day when Infinity isn’t open.

      2. Di

        I believe that this movie theater will be bringing in more Independent and Art genre movies, which aren’t always easy to find in other theaters in the area. Even though I live in the Farmington Valley, I would go into Hartford to see a movie that may not being playing elsewhere.

  11. Gerrymander

    This is indeed great news for Front Street and for the city. Hopefully the arrival of two anchor tenants will encourage smaller retailers to fill out the remaining space at Front Street. Another restaurant would be good, but what downtown could really use is a mid-priced clothing retailer. Many of my co-workers speak wistfully of the former TJ Maxx located in the civic center mall. A store like that, or a Gap, would benefit from the business of convention-goers, downtown residents and office workers alike and would help to complete the retail puzzle.

  12. alexd.

    Janet – unless the sounding board draws 600 people to see nationally known rock, blues and country artists, I wouldn’t worry. I checked out your website. Pretty sure there is no overlap.

  13. John

    I wonder about the effect this new venue will have on the original Infinity Hall — a fantastic place. Who in Central, Eastern, or Southern CT. will want to drive to to Norfolk when you can see the same artists in Hartford?

  14. Ellen

    I think this is a great thing! We go to Infinity to see Rock & jazz shows and we will definitely support this. My 2 sons are musicians and this is the perfect place for their bands, and easier for us to see them than Toads.
    Can’t come soon enough!

  15. Jeananne

    Absolutely adore Infinity Hall. Drive over an hour, even in the dead of winter (to the Ice Box of CT = Norfolk!). Great venue, wonderful acoustics, always a perfect vibe. Keep the small feel in Hartford, keep the prices in check, and “if you build it, they/we will come!” Can’t wait!

  16. Iran Brugueras

    At Harry you might have a point,but in this case this theater will contain a restaurant and a sports bar that will allow you too bring the food and alcohol into theater.The seats will have trays behind them like airline seats, and their still working on either validating parking or keeping cost at $5 bucks or under.They will also premiere lots of international films that local theaters don’t.That being said the 700 capacity seating theater and Music Hall will attract tourist and other merchants which could set off the “Hartford Reinasancce”

    1. Harry Hampton

      I hope you’re right. When the movie theater announcement came out the article talked about the same independent films showing at the Park Street movie theater. Even so I think the audience for that type of movie is relatively small and it is the blockbusters that all the theaters have that keep them in business.
      I’m not sure how the eating while seating will play out – not sure that is for me.
      However, I still think driving past other movie venues to travel to Hartford is something many won’t do. If this weren’t a highly subsidized program I doubt any of these businesses would be thinking about being there.
      We’ll see and I wish them all the luck.

      1. Dan

        I don’t know how the eating combined with alcohol would work in a Hartford theater but the Gilson Theater in Winsted has been doing it for decades. It’s definitely an adult atmosphere, leave the raucous teenagers at home. It’s set up more like a restaurant or cafe though, with tables and chairs and waitresses. You might call it civilized. Hartford…well, maybe not so much.

        1. Waquoit

          There was a movie and beer place called Poor Richard’s in E. Hartford way before Gilson. It closed because it lost it’s lease, not because it was less civilized than cosmopolitan Winsted.

  17. Bruce

    Hate to be a downer, but $1.3M in state fudning durring a recession. Doesn’t seem to make sense to me. What would attract me to go downtown would be some free parking.

    1. MusicMan

      I can understand the cynical view, but cultural organizations like this one represent one segment of the economy that is not shipping jobs overseas. They hire locally. The service they deliver provides a tremendous financial benefit to their communities, and neighboring businesses. They also improve the quality of life and have a positive impact on property values. Pretty good investment I think!

    2. mike

      Parking is free in Hartford after 6PM and all day on weekends… has been for years… not sure if you have been downtown lately, but parking is not at all an issue if you know what you are doing.

  18. Brian

    Dan Hinkcs and his crew have done an exceptional job in Norfolk. Living in the Canton area – I now can have two new options for awesome live entertainment – and a reason to go to Hartford. Artists aren’t playing large arenas anymore so AEG and pay attention to your “Civic Center” and think about making Dan a nice offer $$$$$$.

  19. Sara

    This is GREAT news – Norfolk is a bit far for a show but they attract some fantastic performers. Can’t wait.

  20. Cindy

    Great news, since the last time I went to the Infinity, I had to drive home in pouring rain on those unlit roads, and I couldn’t see a thing! Also, as much as I love the Infinity, when planning the new one, I hope they slope the orchestra seats. I had a bad experience in Norfolk the last time – view was blocked by someone who was not all that tall, but I couldn’t see the singer & drummer at the same time. It was either/or. The acoustics are exceptional, but the view is sometimes not. Anyway, heading back there Nov. 28th for the great Steve Earle – front row this time!

  21. becky

    Can we please get some good rnb acts to come?!?!?!! Some of us who don’t have to travel into Hartford enjoy live shows.

  22. Robert Michalowski

    I’m glad they aren’t closing norwalk.I love the ride and the theater.Recently had front row for robert randolph,awesome.Great bistro,just an all around great place.

  23. Ken

    The Sounding Board is mostly old school folk and Americana music. I expect the Infinity group will bring a wide variety of up and comers as well as some classic rock, folk, blues acts. The Sounding Board has a niche. A small niche.

  24. ED STACK

    The Connecticut Blues Society has always been impressed with the diverse acts presented at Infinity Music Hall. We are excited about Infinity’s expansion to Hartford, and the development of a new venue for blues fans and musicians.

  25. Bill

    Great news for Infinity in Hartford. If it takes away from any other venues,,, It will definitely be Infinity in Norfolk. Ive been around these parts forever,,, and Yes i know of The Sounding Board. Janet, Just keep up your good work. The Sounding Board is one of a kind, kinda like what Norfolk Infinity USED to be.

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