Scene Report: Providence

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 (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 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:
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.

Visiting Providence:
Fall is the one of the best times to hear music in Providence. Before visiting, check out an amazing website: 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:

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

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13 thoughts on “Scene Report: Providence

  1. Somehow I find it hard to believe that Providence is all that sweet, but hey if you say so! I might even check it out next time I’m in Boston…

  2. Thanks for this article, I am going to Providence next week to visit my brother at RISDi and this is some good shit. Word up to Ric Befara, love the new site!!

  3. This article is a good attractor to the eye but i would like to follow it up with a big old black-eye eye opener. I think alot more about load and drop dead could have been said, as well as hospital. plus brian oakley has lots of great skeletons in his closet that could have been exploited

  4. Yeah, I heard the mayor will actually pee on you if you’re in one of these “art rock” type bands. That still wont detour me from going to the most happnin place this side of MTV. Providunce rocks!!

  5. Yeah,
    I found out this morning that my largest puppy has been an ostrich all along. I am an adult, and can make my own decisions. I loved my largest puppy. I loved it with all my heart. It’s just that… this is hard to say, but just as my only ostrich is not my largest puppy, Providance is no Miami. It’s like eveyone there grew up wanting to eat highlighter markers. They never got to, because mommy said so, and now they are all messed-up adults making bad business decisions.

  6. providence is about the best place to go. in fact skip boston totally. come…well all eat
    hi-lighters together…….

  7. Providece, especially Olneyville, rocks. Unfortunatly yuppie urbran sprawl is creeping up on the cheap industrial rent spaces.
    Look out for Vincibus Eruptum. CD coming soon on LOAD RECORDS.
    As for Mayor Buddy, he did a lot of great things for the art comunity here.

    please visit my site and see Providence being hit hard by my alien minions.

  8. Nice city, but the enormous shopping mall in the center blocks the sight of the old city from Olneyville. Driving a taxi at night there, the best part of the shift was seeing the shades of blue and purple sky over the cluster of colonial buildings on the East side in the hour before dawn. No shortage of pretty women, though.

  9. I’m moving to Prov in two weeks. Hear so many good things about it. Was living in Fort Lauderdale. Nothing to do their but drink!

  10. Providence sucks. Everyone and their mother who is involved in any sort of so-called underground art scene loves to suck Providence’s dick lately, but its getting played out soooooo fast. By next year everyone will have forgotten about Olneyville because it will turn into the trendiest place to live this side of the east village in NYC. There is not enough room and too many artists who want to live there. I’ve been to all the spots mentioned in the article and they are mostly watered-down-and-spread-extremely-thin versions of the once great and inovative Fort Thunder. I’m sorry if this sounds bitter, but I am bitter so I can’t help it. I went to RISD, I live in a loft in Williamsburg, so I can’t claim to be any better than any of these folks, but the whole thing is growing out of its own briches. Thats all I have to say. Sorry.



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