Chris Mueller takes a look at Q4, a new, customisable live music and event venue space that allows promoters and performers to think outside the box. Photos by Fred Wissink.

A blank canvas is sometimes all that is needed to create something truly unique.  And this is exactly what Q4 — the newest, and possibly the only — dedicated events venue in Ho Chi Minh City. The space can host anything from large-scale concerts and parties to fashion shows and corporate events.

Hidden behind the storefronts separating Nguyen That Thanh Street in District 4 from the riverfront port along the Saigon River, Q4 has transformed an 80-year-old warehouse into a versatile space that allows the imagination of an event promoter or performer to run wild.

“We wanted to create a big, multi-purpose space that can do anything,” says Rod Quinton, CEO of Saigon Sound System, the live music event production company behind Q4. “What people want to do with it is only limited by their imaginations.”

Well, it’s also limited by their budgets. The entire space, except for the structure of the building, can be changed to whatever the promoter desires. The walls can be repainted, or even painted on by guests during an event. Moveable forty-foot shipping containers are also available and can be converted to sitting or bar areas, once again it’s entirely up to the promoter. Right now, one of the containers is painted with graffiti, but that too can be changed.

But all of this creativity comes with cost and part of the contract to use the space stipulates that the promoter must pay to have walls painted over after the event.

Nick Do, the creative and content manager for MTV Vietnam, which held the MTV European Music Awards party at Q4 last month, says the money may be a problem for some smaller promoters, but if you want an event done right, it’s worth it.

“Saigon needs something like this,” Do says. “We need better places for better parties. Cost wise Q4 could be a problem for a lot of people, but for people who want a proper party it is the best place in the city.”

The 1,600m2 warehouse is big enough to fit 1,500 to 2,000 people comfortably. But for smaller events, strategically placing the stage and backdrops will allow promoters to create a cozier atmosphere. Quinton says soon they will install a heavy custom-made curtain that can be hung from the ceiling trusses to make it easier to change the size of the space.

In such an old building with so much wiring being used for lighting and sound systems, some might be a little uneasy to be packed into the warehouse. After all, Vietnam isn’t known for its dependable or safe wiring.  But because Saigon Sound System was serious about making it a safe, professional venue, the entire warehouse was wired to international standards and can support a huge amount of equipment and lighting.

To further improve the building’s safety, they also added fire retardant to the grass roof, which they use to both dampen the sound heard from the outside and to keep the building cooler. They also hired an acoustics engineer to treat the walls and ceiling, ensuring the entire space has exceptional sound quality.

Q4 is still new, only opening at the end of October, but Quinton says he hopes the venue will attract a range of local artists, big international acts, and alternative bands from around the world. One of the biggest reasons so few artists come to Ho Chi Minh City, he says, is because there are few dedicated places to put on a concert, so maybe Q4 has changed that.