Precious ‘Cargo’ — State-of-the-art live music venue for downtown Reno

Cargo is a street level music venue inside the Whitney Peak Hotel. The building was Fitzgerald's Casino for nearly 30 years. Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
Cargo is a street level music venue inside the Whitney Peak Hotel. The building was Fitzgerald’s Casino for nearly 30 years. Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

Reno’s supreme new live music venue is almost ready to rock.

Crews are working around the clock to prepare the 1,100-capacity Cargo for Saturday’s “soft opening” concert with local rock band Moondog Matinee.

Cargo is a street-level concert hall with an industrial modern motif inside the renovated Whitney Peak Hotel, a landmark downtown location with a rock-climbing façade. It is attached to the famous sign spread over N. Virgina Street. Reno’s Arch touts the “Biggest Little City in the World,” and there are similar expectations for Cargo.

“It takes guts to be a pioneer,” said Project Manager Nicole Gross, who projects Reno as a “mini-Portland or mini-Austin. This will be a destination venue.”

Ed Collins
Production crew member Ed Collins calls his bass player with his band Strange World to attend a sound check inside Cargo on Thursday. Tim Parsons / Reno Onstage

Whitney Peak Hotel literally will be a breath of fresh air in downtown Reno. No smoking or gambling will be permitted. An immediate benefit is the 159-room hotel accommodates visiting sports teams that play at nearby University of Nevada, Reno. The sports sanctioning agency NCAA does not allow students to stay in a hotel with gambling, so teams previously stayed several miles from the campus.

The music will be booked by Devil Dog Production’s Brent Harding, who also brings bands to the Crystal Bay Casino and Squaw Valley.

“This is going to be a lot different than Crystal Bay because we gear it toward the college crowd,” Harding said. “Pretty much whatever college students are into is what you are going to be seeing booked. There will always be music on the weekends no matter what, whether it’s a local show, a bigger show or a smaller show. There will always be music on Friday and Saturday.”

Bands will be heard from a nearly $500,000 sound system, including a Midas Pro 9 digital console, which is set inside an enclosed engineering area adjacent to a long bar. The noise level was tested this week. On the inside it registered 120 decibels but the music could not be heard in the next-door lobby or outside street. Veteran Reno sound engineer Dan Bishop is in charge.

Assistant engineer Ed Collins tried out the system Thursday night with his band Strange World.

“The monitoring system has a wide dispersion pattern,” Collins said. “You can move around and really feel comfortable. It’s a nice, fairly large stage, 20-by-32 feet. The PA is gigantic. It is mammoth sounding, the same type that is used in arenas and stadiums. It’s very impressive.”

“We want to support local artists in a high-production space,” Gross said. “And all the developed artists started in clubs and it’s hard to go back to them. Here they have the same production value as a big show, one of the best in the country.”

Reno is home to emerging bands like Jelly Bread and the Mark Sexton Band and the solo artist Whitney Myer. The Cargo will provide a platform for others to take it to the next level. Moondog Matinee plays rock and could be the next Reno band to emerge. Also playing Saturday is Reno’s Naked For Safety, a rock band with jam tendencies.

The majority of the shows will be for crowds 18 and older. Many will just have a $5 cover.

Major comedy stars will perform, including Brian Posehn June 28 and the Dan Band Aug. 30.

“I stole Dan Band from South Lake,” Harding said. “I’ve been wanting them forever. Harrah’s always outbid me.”

There will be major bands as well, of course. Jonny Lang plays Aug. 3.

KNPB will film a series of concerts in the fall much in the style of “Austin City Limits.” They will be broadcast in the winter, Gross said.

“I’ll be bringing a lot of bands to Reno that have never been here before,” Harding said. “We are tackling a genre of music that has only been tackled at the higher levels.”

The Crash Kings headline the Whitney Peak Hotel Grand Opening June 7.

enginere  got a leg up on Saturday night; ithe montorins sysptem is amazing wide dispersion pattern you can move around and really feel comprotable. Nice 20 32 failry loarge stage. LSup wpooper in the pa awa gigantic. its is amamothon sounding the same type as in areana and staduionm very iompressive

An artist's rendering of the Cargo from the website
An artist’s rendering of the Cargo from the website


ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.


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