Our intrepid correspondant hits you up with the best clubs, bands, and record labels in America’s most surprising city… Providence, RI
By Stephanie Gregerman
OK, Providence, RI is a hot music town. YUP, Providence, RI. In fact, it seems to be one of the premiere places to hear new music…absolutely amazing stuff has been happening here.
And this is not news to anyone in the scene.
“A good amount of people know Providence. It’s setting the pace,” says Brian Oakley, founder of Corleone Records, an independent record label founded in Providence 5 years ago.
“There is a Providence esthetic and look that has permeated the music industry. There’s a ‘Providence’ look and feel everywhere in the music scene. You can see it in cover art tour posters, album inserts, and hear it in the music.”
If you don’t know about Providence, you should. Here’s the lowdown on where to hear the bands, who’s making the albums and where to buy the stuff you love.
Clubs: Although there are clubs to hear bands, like AS220, the Met Café or Safari Lounge, some of the best places are not clubs at all, but warehouse spaces that are used on the QT as music venues. They are mostly in a weird, no-mans-land section of Providence called Olneyville and have names like the Dirt Palace, Sickle and Hilarious Attic. They provide more independent/art/rock venues. Who’s playing where is often left to word of mouth, but you can find listings on a great website called www.Lotsofnoise.com (see listing at the end of this article) All I can say is these events are very, very cool.
Bands: The names and sounds. Providence offers a huge diversity of bands and styles of music. A few bands are well known because they’ve been around forever and others have just recently become very popular. But there are a lot of bands that have huge followings, for whatever reason. Bigger names in the indie scene right now: Lightening Bolt and Arab on Radar. V for Vendetta is a female duo playing good math rock with a large following overseas. Landed V Majestic and the Eyesores have been fixtures on the scene for a long time.
Some of the more well-known people/bands that have come out of Providence: Jon Spencer of the Jon Spencer Blue Explosion went to school here, where he was in a band called Shithouse. Les Savy Fav started here, but moved to NYC after the release of their first album. Men’s Recovery Project and 6 Finger Satellite came outta Prov as well.
Record Labels: For a small town, Providence has quite a few record labels—a testament to just how strong the commitment is to having good music available to everyone and making it heard.
Load Records. They’ve been around for 6-7 years and has several large names on their roster such as Scissor Girls, Landed, Arab on Radar, Lightening Bolt, Olneyville Sound System, 6 Finger Satellite among others. Check out www.loadrecords.com for a complete listing.
Coreleone Records: Probably the most diverse Providence label, they certainly have a lot to offer. They just came out with a superb album, This Robot Kills, and have three new titles coming out soon: Landed, with a 12” EP; Jason Farrell (of bluetip, swiz, retisonic) pt. 2, a 500 copy, red vinyl limited edition album and a new Barnacled album. Check out the website ASAP: www.corleonerecords.com
to hear the bands and order albums.
Vermiform Records: A East Coast/West Coast label, with a partner here in Providence. Artists include: Mens Recovery Project, Fast Forward, Brinkman, Rah Bras.
Hospital Records. Noise label. Artists include Prurient, Emil, Sudden Infant, Football Rabbit, Smash Femur Dance Party.
Armageddon: A record store that also is the label for Full Blown Dead. Local kids produce their own material and often sell them exclusively at the Armageddon store counter.
Contrast: Mostly a record store, but they also put out albums. Located in the old Fast Forward space.
Fall is the one of the best times to hear music in Providence. Before visiting, check out an amazing website: www.lotsofnoise.com. They pretty much have everything you need to know about who’s playing, where and when and the addresses of venues. They also have a lot of info on bands, photos, MP3, and cool tee-shirts for cheap.
To check out club listings: http://www.providencephoenix.com
Julian’s Restaurant at 318 Broadway . This is THE place to get a great meal and also get info on bands. A lot of the indie music crowd hangs here. It’s a sure bet that the bartender will know who’s playing that night and at what warehouse space.
Armageddon Records Right down the street from Julian’s on Broadway. A must-stop for picking up albums and getting info.
Stephanie Gregerman covers New England for USOUNDS