11.1 Million of Montgomery County’s budget went to its newest effort in revitalizing the already buzzing Silver Spring District. With other great attractions like the AFI Theaters, Round House Theatre, and the Discovery Channel Building, The Fillmore was a welcomed addition as it aims to bring about 2,000 patrons to the SIlver Spring Area for live concerts and performances at least four nights a week. Opposite the somewhat unpopular, CityPlace Mall and sandwiched in between a restaurant and an office building, the Fillmore stood out with a tent and marquee welcoming the guitar bashing/ribbon cutting ceremony which happened around 6:30pm.
My team arrived at 6pm, to a line wrapped around the corner with two single file lines. Tickets stated that doors opened at 7pm and 8pm the show would start. This was the rockiest point of the night. Doors didn’t open til 7:30pm and may I remind you that it was RAINING, and COLD, however this didn’t budge the management or security. ALL VIPs and season ticket holders, will call or not, were let in first while the general admission people were left standing in the rain. What I didn’t understand was why we were left in the rain when a huge tent was constructed in front of the place.
After waiting for the VIPs, my ticket was honored, and we finally got in at 8pm, an hour later. Inside, the decor was phenomenal, a dual leveled concert hall with vibrant colors and great sound and dual bars on each floor. My suggestion would be to go for the VIP or box seats, pay the extra penny to sit, as there are no seats on the general admission floor. Regardless, I was fortunate to be front and center. I visited the bar and was surprised to see that Silver Spring allowed a venue to serve both liquor and food. I started to order some food until I saw the delivery and presentation. Well, what could I expect from a true concert venue? Well, the euphemistic descriptions definitely had the majority fooled when it was delivered in a half open chinese food box and called up by numbers. Reminiscent of a cattle call, I passed, maybe they will get a better system and presentation next time.
The Opening Night of the Fillmore bought Mary J. Blige out a little after 9pm, as she and her band rocked most of her My Life Album and a few of the recent titles. There was no opener, and no MC, just Mary J. Blige uncut. As for the performance I enjoyed it, there wasn’t much glitz or glamour and the true Mary fans treated it as a sing-a-long. Mary continually thanked the fans as she reassured them she would be no one without them. She was in CLASSIC MARY style with sunglasses, a dark denim bodysuit and a gold belt, simple and chic.
She also performed the new single from her upcoming project MY LIFE 2. The track 25/8 from the new album closed the show but not before she ran through, You Bring Me Joy, My Life, You Gotta Believe, Never Wanna Live Without You, I’m Going Down, Be With You, I Love You, Be Happy & few others. Mary’s voice is definitely a marvel in hip hop & soul. When Mary J. Blige first released My Life it was full of raspy, uncontrolled breathing and great production, however seeing Mary in concert front and center, I could do nothing but applaud her growth. Her voice was enchanting and crystal clear; her body and image were impeccable, mature and defined, Mary has definitely come a long way. It was almost as if the songs were brand new, in her approach and vocal tenacity. I was floored by her artistry and dedication to the fans, after every song she gave compliments to the fans saying I would be nothing with out you.
Overall The Queen of R&B/Soul, Ms. Mary J. Blige saved the opening night of The Fillmore by giving an outstanding show and selling out the 2,000 seat house. Though a lot of the patrons surrounding me were thoroughly disappointed with the way the lines were handled, as well as, the lateness of the opening of doors and show starting. The Fillmore should keep in mind that when patrons must stand for a concert performance, they will be highly aggravated if they are forced to stand outside in the rain and wait for a late show. They should also revisit their bar & food strategies, maybe some servers? Other than that the show was great, well could’ve been a little longer and a little tighter (noticed a few tracks playing behind the band after the song ended, I know the musicians were slightly embarrassed by that). The Fillmore did show tokens of appreciation by handing out free posters on the way out of the theater commemorating their opening night, another unorganized process. But we live and we learn, hopefully The Fillmore will follow suit.