Peek inside Witch Room, Sacramento's newest music venue

Cool folks from Submerge Magazine enjoy the new booths at With Room.

At events like the opening of a new music venue, everyone likes to get all chin-scratchy about the good and bad of the local music scene. And everyone suddenly becomes some kind of expert about how to put together a venue. Such pontification happened last night at the soft opening of Witch Room, sure. But the prevailing attitude was that the brain trust behind the new venue did it right.

That brain trust includes former Bows & Arrows owner Olivia Coehlo and musicians Liz Mahoney and Liz Liles (with a little help from sound guy Drew Walker and musician Mark Kaiser, etc). The group transformed the building, which back in the day housed a popular recording studio and recently was home for Bows & Arrows, into a dimly lit, spacious hang that will appeal to adult showgoers as much as 18-year-old newbies.

Owners Olivia Coehlo, Liz Liles and Liz Mahoney (left to right).

Last night’s soft opening was a sold affair. Entrance to Witch Room is in the alley across from Safeway at S and 19th streets. Burly dudes check your IDs. Yes, it’s a real venue. No sneaking in like at The Hub or whatever.

Eight bucks earns admittance for a five-band gig on a Tuesday night. There’s an actual door guy seated behind a wood slot-style desk. He’s got a laptop and a register. You can also buy merch from him, which is smartly displayed nearby. All very pro.

Straight ahead after entering is the old Bows & Arrows bar. Brews and wine, plus some snacks like the nachos you were served in elementary school. A pint of Drake’s 1500 was $5.50. Decent value. To the right, outside, is the old Bows patio, unchanged. 

To the left, things get different.

Witch Room doesn’t feel like any venue, restaurant, club, bar—anything—in Sacramento. A pie-slice-shaped stage rests in the southwest corner. Red-velvet curtains hang as backdrop. The surrounding walls are painted plum and black. Approximately 150 people can enjoy the show. There’s no reason to fault the soundsystem or acoustics. Good room.

You can tell that musicians were in charge of the venue’s layout and design. There’s a sound-booth area, flanked by brass railings, which is great because the sound engineer at small-venue shows usually gets screwed when it comes to elbow room. There’s even a green room for bands. Nice touch.

At the back end of the assembly part of the venue is hangout space. A photo booth for memories. Farther past, more booths, this time for seating. Dark leather and wood, lit with gel-tinted overhead lights and beaming candelabras. People were vibing on the dark ambience.

Last night’s band’s were solid—especially openers So Stressed, who I’ve always admired despite their wariness to do press or play a ton of shows.

But the evening ultimately was about taking in the new room. It’s a two word review: Nailed it.

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