The microphones hadn’t been set and the curtains onstage weren’t brushed to the side, but Gary Hicks could practically hear the music.
“This is a promoter’s dream,” Hicks said on a recent tour of what will soon be The Compound at Fuzion in Huntington Beach. “I’m so excited to put on a good show.”
The Compound is set to open Friday, transforming a section of the Fuzion event center into a modern concert venue with room for 400 people.
Hicks, a Laguna Beach resident who promotes music artists, has been busy lately.
Every Wednesday for the past two months, he has provided a local music segment for “The Groove Express” on Laguna Beach radio station KX/93.5 FM. About three weeks ago, Hicks was hunting for a venue that could hold a record-label showcase, and he reached out to one of his contacts, Keeli Scott Lisack, owner of Fuzion. During the conversation, Lisack said the event center had dabbled in live entertainment but hadn’t established continuity in hosting shows or concerts.
The two embarked on a musical project for Fuzion, which offers banquet rooms, a restaurant, multiple bar areas, arcades and mini bowling lanes. Hicks will oversee all entertainment acts at the new Compound and will be responsible for finding and attracting musicians to perform in the 5,000-square-foot room.
“We’re trying to let people know we’re serious about live entertainment and that we have interests for all age groups,” Lisack said, noting the center’s live jazz concerts. “We want the bands and the clientele to have a positive experience.”
Hicks said the position appealed to him because he is passionate about spreading awareness of local bands. He books musicians at Laguna’s The Cliff restaurant and runs BDMcGees.com, a guide to live music in Orange County that allows artists to submit their names in the directory and list their concerts.
The website, Hicks said, was built two years ago when he was frustrated by not being able to quickly locate live music in the coastal community. Online pages he stumbled on were either outdated or limited in their information.
Hicks’ site doesn’t charge musicians to post information. He said advertisements help fund the page, which is about 2,000 clicks shy of 100,000 views.
Hicks said he wants The Compound at Fuzion to be “the musicians’ venue where they are well taken care of and they say to themselves, ‘We may not have gotten instantly rich, but we were well-provided for.'”
Hicks pointed toward the parking lot, where musicians may park 10 feet from the stage and have easy access to quickly unpack and pack their instruments.
Some venues, he said, don’t serve food, but at Fuzion’s restaurant, bands will be able to eat and have a drink.
He plans to launch a rock ‘n’ roll summer school where students can learn about stage presence and practice on instruments, taught by instructors with backgrounds in the music industry.
The center routinely will feature a reggae band Thursdays, younger local artists Fridays and more-established bands on Saturdays.
The venue’s grand opening Friday will spotlight Undecided Future, a group of five Orange County School of the Arts students whose songs range from funk to ska. The band won the People’s Choice Award at the 2014 OC Music Awards, an annual event that honors local artists in multiple categories.
Also performing will be 16-year-old Sabrina Lentini, a Tustin resident who last year made it to the Top 48 on Season 13 of “American Idol” out of more than 75,000 contestants.
“We want the best of the best,” Hicks said.
On Saturday, Pato Banton, a reggae singer from Birmingham, England, will perform, as well as Pilot Touhill, a singer whose influences are rock, pop and reggae.
Hicks said he also wants to place local musicians with touring bands so up-and-coming artists can share the bill with better-known acts.
Hicks said he will forbid pay-to-play schemes in which young artists wanting to improve their profile and get more and better gigs pay a promoter to play a show.
Hicks said musicians who will play at The Compound will earn a percentage of proceeds from tickets sales. He said he hopes that down the line he can attract sponsors, because the money would help cover costs and eventually lead to a bigger percentage for bands.
“I haven’t met a musician who is a businessman,” Hicks said. “When they come here, I want them to be artists and rock stars onstage. I’m not hiring Girl Scouts to go door to door to sell tickets.”
As he strolled through the unfinished room, Hicks was optimistic.
“It’s going to be a great venue,” he said with a smile. “I want the bands to love this place more than I love it.”
If You Go
Who: Undecided Future, Sabrina Lentini
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: The Compound at Fuzion, 7227 Edinger Ave., Huntington Beach
Information: (714) 377-7671 or fuzionhb.com