When I receive concert invites in my inbox, I know there is a 90 percent chance the concert will be held at one of Frank Productions Concerts’ venues. After gobbling up venues and building its own larger venue last fall, the company is poised to continue its reign over Madison’s music scene.
While this monopoly suggests homogeneity in Madison’s musical offerings, the opposite is true. It’s just better business that way. By utilizing line-ups that correspond with the style of each FPC major concert venue, each place holds quite a different experience for concertgoers.
The four main venues — The Sylvee, Majestic, Orpheum Theater, and High Noon Saloon — are poised to hold experiences to remain true to their stereotypical associations this semester. Be on the lookout for these shows this semester which exemplify each venue.
The Sylvee has a big birthday this semester; it’s turning one. With its relative youth as a concert venue comes its continual association in my mind of not quite finding its identity as a venue. “Cement” is the first word that comes to mind when I think about my Sylvee experiences, which is then quickly followed by “gray.” The bathrooms are the most colorful things in The Sylvee, with quirky touches here adding another confusing element to its vibe.
This semester, hopefully the venue will continue to find its footing and identity with another roster filled with rising headliners and popular acts. A quartet of concerts this semester — The Head and the Heart, Lizzo, AJR and The Avett Brothers — are already sold-out in the large venue, attesting to to the draw of the acts in this venue relative to others around campus. Capacity abilities clearly define this venue otherwise, with a ZZ Top 50th anniversary concert among other choices not quite seeming to match the musical identity of the rest of The Sylvee’s line-up.
It is likely the venue’s utility and ability to hold such large concerts will continue to define its presence in Madison. Perhaps this justifies its gray cement aesthetic.
One day, I will stop writing about how Majestic is my favorite venue in Madison.
Today is not that day.
Madison is a quirky city by nature, and the versatility and warmth found at Majestic allow for a quirky and diverse line-up every season. Every time I step inside, it feels like home.
Majestic is continuing to propagate its quirky vibes with unique experiences and artists on the fall 2019 calendar. Musical acts include Sigrid, Bowling for Soup and Misterwives. Majestic will also host a Suicide Girls Blackheart Burlesque show in addition to their Glitz series of drag performances and fun Brew ‘n View movie screenings. Pick your poison with your Majestic experience — no matter who is playing, it is certain you will have a fun, quirky, uniquely Madison experience here.
High Noon Saloon
While every standing room FPC sells alcohol, the High Noon Saloon really is the only one that primarily feels like a bar. According, music is often not the main focus of High Noon Saloon shows. Pun slams and The Moth story sessions are immediately on the horizon for September’s lineup.
Inside, the aesthetic skews country; it is a saloon after all. Traditionally, local acts and up-and-coming artists find their way to the High Noon Saloon, occasionally with banjos. I do not immediately recognize any artists who play this venue, usually leading to a mixed bag of musical experiences here.
High Noon Saloon did recently receive an upgrade to now include an outdoor patio in addition to its main performance spot. Whether this will remain useful once it becomes September is unlikely with Wisconsin weather, but hopefully this move will help solidify the Saloon’s potential as a casual venue. Open Mic and Pint Nights are on the schedule for this part of the venue.
The Orpheum Theater
The Orpheum’s demographic always punches slightly older than the general make-up of the University of Wisconsin’s student body. This makes absolutely no sense to me since it is the closest venue to campus. The Orpheum is a highly convertible space and therefore holds a wide variety of events, yet often they are priced outside of what is attainable for students or inherently attract older audiences.
Fall’s lineup is no exception. The first notable concert of the semester comes at the end of September, when Toto stops through town to actually skrelt “Africa” instead of just having it blast at approximately every bar in Madison at 12 a.m. Goo Goo Dolls, Elvis Costello and more acts that were relevant ten years ago complete the Orpheum’s calendar.
Stay tuned next week to explore Madison’s musical offerings outside of FPC.