With hip-hop artist Chingy, local venue fulfills mainstream music mission

BY RYAN FOSMARK | JULY 23, 2009 7:15 AM

“Right Thurr,” “Holidae Inn,” and “One Call Away” — all songs Chingy has scalded into the long-term memory of mainstream American music.

The musician will bring his catchy hip-hop tunes to Iowa City this weekend. While the town is no stranger to hip-hop, this show will be a milestone for the Industry as well as for the Iowa City music scene.

Chingy will play at the Industry, 211 Iowa Ave., at 8 p.m on Saturday with openers Animate Objects and local band Rudy Work. Tickets are available at the Den — $25 prior to the day of the concert, $30 on Saturday.

Prity Kumar, the manager of and booking agent for the Industry, said Chingy, in addition to his chart-topping club hits, will give the venue a sense of fulfillment.

“We wanted to bring mainstream music to Iowa City, because there’s finally a locally owned, not a city-owned or university-owned venue, where we can house and host acts of this caliber,” she said. “That it’s actually happening now, and we’re meeting those goals that we started out with, is fantastic.”

The Industry opened in April 2008 with the intention of becoming Iowa City’s source for mainstream tunes and serving as an all-around event host. Some may wonder why the Industry hasn’t brought in any large-scale acts until now, but Kumar said it’s not for the lack of ability.

“It wasn’t at all that it was a challenge getting this caliber of artist,” she said. “We’ve always had the tools available to bring in artists of this caliber — we just needed to prepare ourselves in the past year to make sure the business was able to handle it in a way that our reputation would precede us.”

Kevin Koppes, a booking agent for the Picador, 330 E. Washington St., sees the show as the Industry possibly sliding into a niche in the local music scene.

“It’s its best chance to get some footing as far as live music in Iowa City goes,” he said. “Big hip-hop acts and dance/house-type music — that’s what the room is best suited for, and that’s what the [sound system], I think, is best suited for. It’s not a rock bar, you know? It’s just not.”

With a total capacity of more than 633, the Industry is Iowa City’s largest club venue. Koppes said that feature alone is very desirable in the hip-hop business, and the venue is well-equipped to deliver big-name acts.

“The Industry will eventually do big hip-hop shows that do a lot better than this one, but I think it’s a good tester,” he said.

On top of making sure the staff is up to the demands of a higher-caliber gig, the Industry will also find out if the local audience is there.

“If they get 300 people out at 25 bucks, I’ll high-five them all the way across the board,” Koppes said. “It’s one of those untested things; I don’t even know what to make of that. This will definitely be a pretty telling thing for [the Industry] and for everyone else who is interested in getting a big nationally recognized act in like that.”

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