By Joe Hadsall
Globe Features Editor
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Halloween was a good night for Ben Bauder and Whitney Cosby.
After working for weeks coordinating volunteers and spending more than $10,000 renovating the large building in the 2300 block of E. Seventh Street, the two and other members of LoveWay Records opened the doors for the Ganesha Theatre's first show -- a Halloween concert featuring live music from metal to electronic.
"The show was really great," Bauder said. "Other than some sound issues, everything was awesome. We had a great crowd, and we were stoked that we were able to keep going until 2 a.m. with no noise complaints."
He and Cosby, his girlfriend, are the co-managers of the venue. Bauder is also one of the founders of LoveWay Records, the label started by Christofer Drew of Never Shout Never. Bauder and Drew also are the duo behind Gonzo, an electronic dance band whose first album, "Beet Pharm," was released in April.
In addition to working with local bands such as Me Like Bees and Remnants, the label has organized several music festivals, including a large outdoor festival in August.
The opening of the venue marks the completion of a long-time goal for the label. Bauder said that staff members have long wanted their own venue for concerts.
"This gives us the chance to stop worrying about hauling all of our stuff around," Bauder said. "This can be our focus. It's way more expensive finding new locations. It's nice to have this place."
The managers have a lot of ideas of what the Ganesha Theatre is, and can be. It's easy to point out what it is not: a bar. Gatorade, tea and water are the only beverages available.
But the venue has a lot of features helpful for nightlife, including a stage, large dance area, bar-style counters and plenty of space. Bauder said their vision for the venue is to be a hub for art and culture, and to bring a new angle to Joplin's entertainment scene. Ganesha is one of the most revered gods in Hindu religion. Bauder said the god speaks to new beginnings and birth.
"We want to be a place where anyone can feel comfortable coming to," Bauder said. "We want to host a great variety of music and art. Anything we can do to keep the culture and creativity of the town going."
The building is the former home of Vibe, an all-ages venue that closed earlier this year. Bauder said he and other LoveWay staff discovered the building because of its close proximity to the label's office.
"Our office is a block away from here," Bauder said. "We had seen it up for rent, but it was a fleeting thing. We thought it would be sweet to have our own venue."
On a visit to Joplin, Drew and Bauder decided to check it out, Bauder said. They took a look around and saw it was laid out perfectly for their needs.
"It had everything we needed. The next morning we signed the lease," Bauder said. "It was a spur of the moment decision, but we had always talked about a place for having our own shows. We knew that this was the place, and it's why we were willing to put so much work and money into it." The building took some work to prepare -- they sanded floors, completely replaced bathrooms, removed carpet and lighting and painted walls and floors.
Not everything went smoothly: Joplin building inspectors initially issued a long list of improvements to be made. But they said city officials helped them get up to code once they were able to explain their commitment.
"I think a lot of it was our age," Cosby said. "With us being younger, they didn't know what to expect. When they saw us doing work and not just painting, they saw we want to make this a better place for Joplin."
Currently, the venue is hosting ElectroDisco, a weekly electronic dance concert featuring artists such as AC-130, Pamu, Party Hard Mafia and Frindli Quinnli.
Once upgraded sound equipment is installed, the venue will feature more variety, including everything from metal to bluegrass. Other plans include themed nights such as '80s or prom, Cosby said, and open mic nights. There are also plans to add booths and offer coffee drinks.
"That way we can be more of a lounge environment," Bauder said. "People can just hang out. Like a hipster lounge kind of place."
Already the venue has been booked for special events: Cosby said Art Feeds will host a watch party in December for the American Giving Awards, sponsored by Chase.
Once the summer approaches, Bauder said bands could get bigger. Drew has already talked about the venue in Alternative Press magazine and filmed a music video for "All Mine," a song from Never Shout Never's newest album "Indigo." His connections in the music business should help land some bigger acts, Bauder said.
Bauder's experience organizing events is also key: In addition to several LoveDaze events that he has organized, he also organized zombie marches annually for three years.
He said that he thought working at a venue would be one of the sweetest gigs ever. Now that he and Crosby are in charge, their mission is even more real.
"I know I've said this before, but there is so much talent packed into this little town," Bauder said. "We want everyone to meet on the same level here, where they won't feel discriminated, and they can be encouraged to express themselves."