There’s something about live music, isn’t there? An experience one can only get by being there, at the venue, with dozens of other people all sharing a great musical moment. So what makes it so special? The band should be good, of course. Usually a larger crowd creates an atmosphere of energy and excitement, although smaller crowds can help enhance the intimacy of a show.
What about the venue itself? The sound, the look, the vibe. All of these things are crucial to a great show-going experience. The best band in the world can’t make up for a bad sound or a bad vibe. A venue should enhance the show, or at least stay out of the way.
Providence has a great music scene. The fans are supportive, the bands are talented and entertaining, and the venues are there to put on great live shows.
Let’s take a look at the top 5 places to catch a show in or around Providence.
71 Richmond St, 2nd Floor, Providence
Before we crack into the Top 5, it is worth mentioning one of the newest venues offering a place for live music to thrive. Alchemy has only recently opened, but is already making a splash around the area. The set up is top notch, and it’s clear that a lot of work has gone into making it one of the premiere venues for live music in the area. This is definitely a place to keep an eye on.
301 Harris Ave, Providence
Don’t judge this place by it’s size. It may seem small, particularly when compared to some of the other venues on this list, but Dusk has all of the ingredients of a great venue. The gothic horror feel of the interior is perfect for setting the stage on a rock or metal night. The sound is surprisingly great, offering a quality not often seen out of a smaller venue like this. And while the size is at times difficult to overcome, the intimate setting it provides acts as a stark contrast to the large, open rooms of so many other venues. They also host events of all types and genres, including DJ’s and award winning Dance Night. When you put it all together, this versatile club is deserving of the number 5 spot on this list.
4. Fete Music Hall - Lounge
103 Dike St., Providence
Okay, so we’re cheating a bit here, but hear us out. Fete Music Hall provides two very distinct show-going experiences, they just happen to be under one roof. The Lounge is the smaller of the two, but certainly stands as tall as it’s bigger brother, the Ballroom. The first, and most notable, aspect of the Lounge that should be pointed out is the sound. The system is high quality, able to keep up sonically with (and at times outshine) the Ballroom. Booth-style seating can be found in corners of the room, as well as the usual bar seating, but it isn’t often you are sitting while you’re there.
The stage could use an upgrade, as it’s size often force average sized bands to creatively use their limited space, and the layout of the building means the Lounge can often serve as little more than a hallway to the outside smoking area. The parking situation at the Fete can be troublesome as well, and you will often find yourself deciding between a dark, poorly lit alleyway a block away from the venue, or paying for the valet.
Those negatives certainly don’t outweigh the positives for this great venue, however, and it is certainly one you should visit soon.
3. The Met
1005 Main Street, Pawtucket
Let’s get the bad out of the way first; the parking situation at the Met is one of the worst you will find among these venues. If you don’t get there early and snag a streetside spot in front, good luck.
Ok, so now let’s talk about what makes the Met so great. The vibe of this club is like no other. The stage is front and center, and is certainly large enough for any band to perform at their highest level. Almost the entire interior is floor space, and you can’t find a corner of the room that doesn’t offer a view of the stage. Famous artists, from Hendrix to the Stones, are painted around the interior walls, reminding you of just what this place is about: the music. And the Met delivers on that front. From nationally touring bands to local throw downs, the Met never disappoints, and is a mainstay on the local venue circuit.
2. The Ruins at the Colosseum
180 Pine St., Providence
The Ruins is such a great venue, it was difficult NOT to put it at #1. The club has the best layout of any of the venues, and sticks to it’s “ruins” theme very well. Like the Met, the Ruins allows a good view of the stage from anywhere in the room, helped in part by the massive stage wrapping around an entire corner of the club. All this combines to create a unique and exciting atmosphere.
But the real selling point of the Ruins is it’s sound. Rarely is there a night where the sound is anything less than superb. Making average bands sound great and great bands sound incredible is what the talented sound engineers at the Ruins do best.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to catch a rock or metal show at the Ruins, you are missing out on a great experience.
1. The Fete Music Hall - Ballroom
103 Dike St
The Fete Ballroom is what people imagine when they think “Rock Show”. This is the type of room bands fight to be able to perform at. A huge room, boasting an upper balcony along the back wall, the Fete can house some of the biggest shows in Rhode Island, and often does. Frequently the site of large-scale, multi-band festivals, the Fete Ballroom suffers the same potential parking issues as the Lounge (see #4). Aside from those, there is little to criticize.
The stage is among the largest in the state, offering a staggering amount of room for the performing bands to move, and sits high enough to offer a view even to those at the bar in the back. The sound and lighting match the professional quality of the stage and layout.
Many well-known, national touring bands stop at the Fete on their way through, and often return if they come through again, an indication of the quality of the venue. If you’re looking for the ultimate “rock concert” experience in Rhode Island, the Fete is the place to be.
More WBOB Reads