The recent stunning loss of Eclectic (if you haven’t already, sign the petition here) as a venue has inspired quite a bit of discussion about the lack of performance spaces at Wesleyan, and it is indeed lamentable. However, there are options that I haven’t really seen floated.
For one, most of the bars and businesses on Main Street would love to be more deeply engaged with Wesleyan students (The Middletown Eye had a great discussion about this recently).
I attempted to launch a concert series at Public this semester to coincide with bar night, and though it was somewhat successful, I didn’t manage to get a single band in which I do not play to do a gig there (several took the gig and then canceled for various reasons). The owner of the bar is very serious about establishing a night that will showcase Wesleyan music; he’s offering a guarantee and free drinks to the bands, not charging a cover, and in general being a pretty cool guy (the offer of a gig still stands, if interested contact me).
There are several other places to play in town as well. For the traditional bar-type setting there’s La Boca, Hair of the Dog and the brand new and quite cool Fishbone Cafe, while the Buttonwood Tree offers a more art-space style room and Javapalooza is that interesting combination of a coffee shop and a microbrew beer bar (and thus a place where one can have a show that isn’t 21+).
Of course there’s nothing as fun as a dark, sweaty dance party show at one of Wesleyan’s venues (or more often living rooms), but in this age of everything local, why not bring your tunes down to Main Street and encourage your friends to put their PBR dollars into a different coffer for an evening? It’s a proposition that benefits everyone involved: the band actually gets paid, the local venue gets a momentary influx of Wesleyan students, and most of all, a night of music goes down free of the looming threat of a P-Safe shutdown.
This would be great – an excuse to get off campus every once in awhile, add more variety to the social scene, and maybe integrate Wesleyan with Middletown a little better. Not to mention a financial incentive for the musically skilled in these economically challenging times.