Josh and I recently headed out to The Agora Theater and Ballroom in Cleveland, Ohio to attend a concert by a couple of our favorite bands, Skillet and Alter Bridge. We are both huge Skillet fans, we’ve both seen them at least 5 times and Josh is a huge Alter Bridge fan, so when he saw they were touring together, we knew we had to get tickets.
When Josh told me where the concert was this year, we both kinda cringed. We had attended a concert at The Agora 3 years ago and had a not-so-great experience. That being said, it seems that over the past three years, they have done some improvements. We’re going to consider several characteristics of the venue in this review: location, parking, ease of entry, facilities, concessions, seating, sound, and staff. Let’s look at how these weighed in at The Agora.
The Agora is located in Cleveland, Ohio. It’s to the east of the downtown area close to the Cleveland Clinic Area. When looking for hotels, there were two in walking distance. Personally, I’m not familiar with the area first hand. I did find that the neighborhood that you drive through to get to The Agora is in is slightly questionable, I just didn’t feel safe. I could be completely wrong about the area but it makes me uncomfortable. I will admit that I didn’t feel as uncomfortable this time, which could have been related to where we parked or the fact that I was not 9 months pregnant this time around.
Parking was much easier this year. I remember waiting in line to park in a poorly lit, dingy parking lot three years ago. This year, we got right into the parking lot, they told us exactly which spot to park in and it was well lit. I appreciated the organization.
Ease of Entry
Going through security was quick and painless and scanning our tickets was quick as well. Josh had the tickets on his phone. Most of the venue is general admission, but you could also purchase seats for this event, so we did. Once they scanned the QR code on the phone, they printed a ticket with our seats on them. Also upon entry, if you were planning on drinking alcohol, you needed to get a wrist band after showing your ID. Not only was this a quick process, but I felt it was also a smart idea as well.
Of course as soon as we got there I had to use the restrooms, which I would consider standard. They were as clean as you’d expect, but not immaculate. Some of the paper towels were empty and the trash cans were overflowing a bit, but I felt they bathrooms were adequate.
The Agora does not serve food but they do have several bars at the venue. I also noticed that the bars did have bags of chips available for purchase. We purchased a beer on tap (approx. 16 oz.) and it was $9. I thought that was average for a concert venue.
One huge plus, or improvement since the last time we were there was the seating. Josh and I are both convinced that they renovated the seating on the balcony. The seats were super comfortable, they looked new and clean! I was please by this update. The only gripe I had regarding the seating was that there was barely any leg room. I’m only 5’3 and I was struggling with leg room so I can only imagine how my 6 ft husband felt.
Obviously sound is an important component when attending a rock concert, or any type of event really. An event is exceptionally less enjoyable if I can’t hear or understand what is going on. Since this was a rock concert, I expected the music to be loud. The problem was, the instruments were so loud I could barely hear or understand the lyrics, especially when I wasn’t familiar with the song. Josh and I discussed this on the ride home and remembered having the same issue the last time we were at The Agora. I’m not a sound expert at all but I feel like there is room for improvement in this category.
I didn’t have much interaction with the event staff. They were quick and courteous as we entered the venue and informative when showing us our seats. I did notice one staff member on the balcony with a flashlight that would shine the light across the entire balcony when someone was looking for their seat. I found this extremely distracting. I also noticed that the front row of the balcony has a glass “barrier” and when someone would lean on it or get too close a staff member with a green laser pointer would shine their laser on that person and then the guy with the flashlight would flash the light on that person. I understand this is a safety issue, but it was again extremely distracting.
While The Agora Theater and Ballroom has made some nice upgrades, I still believe there is room for improvement, especially in the sound department. As far as a venue for a rock concert goes, I’d say it is an ‘okay’ venue. It is definitely not my favorite, but I wouldn’t consider it a deal breaker when deciding if I wanted to attend an event being held there.