Since 2005, the Town Ballroom has been a prime destination for just-breaking young bands and tenured veterans alike. You might see an of-the-moment EDM act one night, an underground legend or jam band the next, and an oldie-but-goodie alt-icon, a la Psychedelic Furs or Peter Murphy, the next.
From the 1940s through the '60s, the site at 681 Main St. was known as the Town Casino. It lived up to its name as showgirls and tough guys commingled while they drank and gambled. Musical icons played the room, too, among them Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong.
For a period of time, the building intermittently sat dark, hosted Studio Arena and UB's Pfeiffer Theatre, and housed Sphere Nightclub. It was reopened in 2005 as the Town Ballroom by Artie Kwitchoff and Donny Kutzbach of Funtime Presents. The pair keeps a rotating cast of talent moving through the room and has succeeded while simultaneously satisfying older music fans and taking chances on young artists in a variety of genres, including hip-hop, EDM and jam bands.
Two nights of the Hip
Those who made it to one of the shows will not likely ever forget the transcendent magic the Tragically Hip summoned and celebrated across two nights in March 2007. Sharing an intimate experience with a band of this stature felt like a rare gift.
A club-within-a-club, the Leopard Lounge is off the lounge/bar area in the front of the Town Ballroom. Named for the funky animal print that adorns the walls, it has hosted the likes of Hollerado, the Stick Men, the Living End, Craig Finn (of the Hold Steady) Tommy Stinson and Willie Nile since opening in 2010.
My list of memorable shows at the Town Ballroom is immense one, but here are a few of the artists whose appearance there earned an A-plus rating: Steven Wilson, Muse, Ratdog, the Tea Party, Peter Murphy, the Tragically Hip, Ian Hunter, Peter Wolf, Clutch, Rakim, the Continental Reunion, and Marillion.