Right now, the unopened Sugar Creek light rail station is a little tricky to find from the street. You veer off North Tryon Street not far from NoDa Brewing Company, drive past some road closure signs and then you finally glimpse it: the glassed-in station structure behind a white, 45,000-square-foot warehouse.
And there, right behind the building and butting up to the station, is an expansive beer garden and a portable, outdoor concert stage bordered by shipping containers that operate as bars.
Welcome to The Shed Amphitheater at the Station House, the NoDa area’s latest pop-up concert and event venue at 600 E. Sugar Creek Road.
“We got this thing cobbled together to do a short run,” said Jay Tilyard, former owner of The Chop Shop music venue in NoDa, which closed two years ago to make way for development. “We just wanted to test out the viability of it.”
He stumbled upon the outdoor space thanks to Tony Kuhn of Flywheel Group, which owns the warehouse. Kuhn invited him to check it out.
Tilyard’s vision is to bring a broad mix of audience members and shows to the area, much like The Chop Shop used to. So it doesn’t get stale, he said.
The first event in October brought in about 550 people for an EDM-style concert, The Hypercolor Tour, featuring Liquid Stranger and Manic Focus.
Up next, on Friday, Nov. 3, is The James Brown Dance Party, a funky tribute to James Brown hits. The show is 7-11 p.m.
“We’re just kind of putting it together and seeing how the weather reacts and how the neighborhood reacts and how the sound reacts, and everything,” Tilyard said of the mix of shows.
Whether the concert venue stays could also be dependent on who moves into the building. The warehouse, which right now is just a backdrop to the amphitheater, is getting cleaned up and prepared for the right mix of tenants that could range from breweries to coworking companies.
“I’m kind of the flame to attract the moth,” said Tilyard.
The arts are here — now the businesses can join.
“I like the idea of having this thing happen and it developing into a cool cultural thing, kind of like NoDa used to be,” he said.
Tilyard ultimately envisions a multi-use courtyard that can be an amphitheater, a hangout and an overall versatile space.
“Maybe a NoDa-meets-South-End-y kind of vibe, so it’s a little bit cleaner-edge but a little bit funky at the same time,” Tilyard said. “The location is amazing and it’s just a matter of getting the right group of people together to make it pop.”
Photos: Katie Toussaint