The Factory: ‘Just in this for the music’

By Kay Nguyen

Jerry Wald and Shane Ford, owners of Rochester’s newest concert venue The Factory, look at a car with bright headlights driving past the venue. It turns out to be a white Cadillac, not the police car they thought it to be.

“We surprisingly keep a really good relationship with the police,” said Wald. “It’s been surprising — they like what we’re doing and think it’s a righteous thing.”

Very few problems have plagued the duo since the opening of The Factory August 2008. Many touring bands are now choosing the venue over larger and flashier alternatives.

“The word is getting out and about around bands that are from out of state,” said Wald. “It’s cool when we get touring bands.”

Local bands like The Hard Lessons have also benefited from the new lineups. They get a chance to play alongside bigger names and learn about touring.

The small venue brings larger bands back to their roots and serves a springboard for many local artists.

“I love the venue,” said Oakland University sophomore Vivian Rackover. “I really like that it’s so intimate and laid back.”

Rackover, an acoustic/folk artist, is scheduled to play two shows in April after hearing of the venue through word of mouth.

“We never thought we’d be where we are now when we started this thing,” said Ford.

Ford and Wald are now focusing on 2009. They hope to begin building their own shows with contacts they have made over the last few months.

An open mike night is in the works, and a first anniversary bash is planned for August. The Factory may even start renting out practice space.

“We want to get kids out of their parents’ house or basement,” said Ford.

The pair has also opened up the venue’s basement. It features an empty glass case and couches for hanging out.

Ford and Wald hope to sell local band music and merchandise in the case. A listening station is also in the works.

“People usually don’t know what they’re getting when they buy a local band’s album,” said Ford. “It will give them a chance to preview the music.”

There is just one problem with the venue — since the furnace is broken, there is currently no heat in the building. A bucket placed on an old organ in the entry way collects ‘donations 4 HEAT.’

“We’ll also get fans for the summer so that it’s not a sweatbox,” said Wald, gesturing to the single antiquated window air conditioning unit.

The business does not bring in much revenue for two main reasons: no alcohol or any other beverages are served and capacity is limited. The operation is also still completely run by volunteers.

“We’re all just in this for the music,” said Wald. “We want to make a community; it doesn’t have to be tight knit — just a small community.”

Patrons are there for the music as well. Three girls huddled around a cigarette lighter for a bit of warmth while still tapping their toes to the beat at acoustic night Thursday March 5.

It is also not uncommon to see parents or maybe even grandparents in the crowd.

“We hate to see people thinking that it’s a teen club,” Ford said, citing the many genres and age ranges of recent performers.

Many walking into Gus O’Conners, the pub next door, often peek in through the dilapidated windows, piqued by curiosity.

“You get to hear a lot of incredibly good musicians and get to meet some very cool people,” said Rackover. “There aren’t a whole lot of venues out there like it.”

Cover charge at The Factory starts at $5. For more details check out

Upcoming shows at The Factory

Saturday, April 4 – Koji with Andy Zipf, Damion Suomi, We Were Made, The Honest Life, Waverly, Brae and Brad Nash

Monday, April 6 – Atavan with The Fastest Kid Alive, Breathe Electric and No, Really! 

Sunday, April 12 – Backseat Goodbye with The Send, Bradley Hathaway, The Ferdy Mayne, Toast and Aviva 

Monday, April 13 – DAMIERA with Tiger! Tiger!, Man Without Wax, Bahamut and Lay of the Cid