While living in Madison, I have never gotten into a drunken brawl in front of a nightclub -- at least not on King Street. Which is to say, the recently re-opened Majestic Theatre was new to me when I went there for the Porchlight fundraiser on Wednesday night.
Five dollars gained you entrance to a show featuring the likes of Ben Sidran, Louka Patenaude & Frank Martinez, El Clan Destino, and The Midwest Beat, plus free pizza and beer. As the evening started, this good cause drew in various downtown folks, such as ubiquitous neighborhood advocate Rosemary Lee, former UW regent Fred Mohs, and city historian Stu Levitan.
Lasting well over eight hours, the event saw a different set of local peeps later in the evening, such as artist and entertainer Angela Richardson, musician Peter Kaesberg, Majestic co-owner Matt Gerding, and the theater's events coordinator Bessie Cherry.
At the new Majestic, the gold leaf trim hugged the corners of the walls where attractive hipsters didn't. It looked like this venue was giving Genna's a run for its money in the hot, arty, young professionals department. Aside from the awkward door staff who didn't grasp my question of "Do I need a wrist band?" -- Greek, I know -- the persons inside were ace.
The upstairs is similar to the Bowery Ballroom, one of Manhattan's primo venues. The side mezzanine and opera boxes make for a great view to the stage and dance floor. Not only did I get a great view of the chamber orchestra rock band, Pale Young Gentleman, but I also was entertained by the "So You Think You Can Dance" wannabes and a lyrical dancer dude who were dazzling like champs on the floor below. This voyeuristic perch is why tickets for these spots shall cost a few pennies more for future shows.
I will admit, if I hadn't been given a guided tour of the place by Ms. Cherry, I don't know if I'd be back at home writing this, or if I'd be lost in some nook or cranny, getting high off the new paint smell. The various niches -- from the dark corners by the downstairs bar to the hidden Marquee Room behind the projector in the upper level -- make for plenty of places to neck with or run away from your date.
Whoever initially built those downstairs bathrooms behind and below the stage -- props to you! I really enjoyed exiting during the culmination of alternative-90s riff rippers Whore du Jour. As the applause rang out, I felt so elated, "Congratulations on the culmination of your urination!"
In a city filled with concrete bunkers and shiny condos, the Majestic is a nice throwback to a more aesthetically pleasing time.
On Jethro Tull's album Benefit, Ian Anderson sings, "I'm going back to the ones that I know, with whom I can be what I want to be. Just one week for the feeling to go -- and with you there to help me then it probably will." And in this case, he is totally right.
Even if you don't want to take suggestion from a guy with a flute, take it from me. Keep up with this place, particularly the Soundlab party on October 12 when Nick Nice spins indie for your dancing pleasure.