Sometimes, they are jokingly referred to as “fly-over” states, but the Midwest is ripe with concert locations for bands that are just starting out or on a limited budget. Most of these venues are in college towns with a disproportionate number of young fans eager to get to know the latest trends in indie music or support local favorites.
DTE Energy Music Theatre in Independence Township, Michigan
Independence Township is located about 50 miles from Ann Arbor, the home of the University of Michigan. It is located in the area of Pine Knob Ski Resort and Golf Course. At one time, the venue was called Pine Knob Music Theatre. DTE Energy Music Theatre frequently ranks among the best-selling outdoor music venues and has won awards from both Pollstar and Billboard Magazines. “The Knob”, as it is still nicknamed, can seat 7,202 in the covered pavilion and 8,072 on the lawn at the back of the arena.
Central Park Plaza in Valpo, Indiana
Valparaiso, Indiana is home to a number of colleges and universities. These include its namesake, Valparaiso University, a satellite campus of Purdue University Northwest, and an Ivy Tech regional campus. Central Park Plaza is the highlight of the recent Downtown Valparaiso revitalization. It features an outdoor amphitheater for concerts and other events. The Valparaiso events team attracts chart-topping bands to the venue every year. The venue has full sound capabilities and can be reserved from late-April to mid-October. There is a large lawn in front of the stage for fans and spectators.
The Historic Tennessee Theatre in Knoxville, Tennessee
Knoxville is home to the campus of the University of Tennessee, a school with an enrollment of just under 30,000 students. The interior of the Tennessee Theatre has been restored back to its splendor of the 1920s. Today, the venue hosts electronic rock bands, symphony orchestras, comedy acts, Broadway shows, and indie music performers.
Newport Music Hall in Columbus, Ohio
Columbus includes the location of the huge Ohio State University and its enrolled students of over 61,000 students on the Columbus campus alone. As many other indie music venues, Newport Music Hall was originally built as a movie theatre in the 1920s. It reopened for music in 1984, and today, it advertises as the “longest continually running rock club in the country.” The venue has a 1,700 person capacity. It plays host to 150,000 guests each year.
Although they are not on the left or right coast, the music venues in America’s heartland have a lot to offer up-and-coming independent musical acts. These are the kinds of venues that indie bands love returning to once they’ve hit it big, too.