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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    A history of entertainment

    College simply wouldn’t be college without those timeless nights of drunken debauchery and live music. Luckily, Tucson houses some of the most original concert venues a college student could ask for, many of which are located just a stone’s throw from campus. Don’t let this semester pass you by without experiencing a little musical entertainment; the following venues will be more than happy to oblige.

    The Rialto Theatre

    Originally a hotspot for Vaudeville performances, the Rialto has been providing Tucson with musical entertainment since 1920, but the theater didn’t start rocking out until 1995.

    Located conveniently across the street from Hotel Congress and boasting a rip-roarin’ PA system, the Rialto will likely be your venue of choice for big-name bands stopping by T-town this semester. The theater has undergone many a transformation in its time, changing hands between various owners and serving successively as a Vaudeville performance house, motion picture theater, adult motion picture theater and ultimately the concert venue it is today after being saved from demolition in 1985. Since the Rialto was reopened in the ’90s as a concert hall, it has devoted its spacious, 1,400-person capacity to delivering the most musically tight and crowd-pleasing performances possible.

    The theater’s generous size is perhaps its most distinct feature (aside from the signature marquis in front), providing enough room for ensembles like Polyphonic Spree and Gogol Bordello to feel comfortable while remaining just small enough to allow intimacy everywhere on the floor (balcony seating is also available for those with intimacy issues). The theater’s size and impressive sound system are also major draws for many of the big-name acts who frequent Tucson; if you plan on seeing your favorite indie-rock troupe, hip-hop crew or pop idols live this semester, you’ll likely be seeing them at the Rialto. Curtis McCrary, the Rialto general manager, is confident the theatre will supply music fans with what they want. “”(Concertgoers) want to see Ice Cube, and they want to see Beck,”” McCrary said, “”and we’re the only place in town where you can do that.””

    Club Congress

    Beating proudly on the ground floor of the historic Hotel Congress in the heart of downtown Tucson, Club Congress may look small, but it boasts a mammoth reputation. Since its opening in 1985 the club has stood testament to the rise and fall of countless musical careers (including, surprisingly, Nirvana) as it has steadily evolved into “”the longest running club of its kind this side of the Mississippi,”” according to David Slutes, the hotel’s entertainment director.

    Surrounded by Hotel Congress’ old-timey mystique, the club serves as an ideal venue for concert-goers, weary bands in the midst of national tours, and members of Tucson’s local music scene alike. Historic gangster activity involving the John Dillinger gang coupled with modern accounts of paranormal activity in the guest rooms above the club might seem like turn-offs at a rock concert, but Congress’ unconventional history has only solidified its standing as one of the most distinctive and unforgettable venues in the nation. The club’s close proximity to the larger, oftentimes louder Rialto Theatre may invite superficial comparisons between venues, but for decades the two historic landmarks have worked in tandem to create an incomparable energy on Congress Street that just might make you forget that Tucson is a retirement community. Though you’ll be more likely to see the bigger-named bands across the street this semester, don’t hesitate to spend a night in front of Club Congress’ intimate stage, enjoying what David Slutes describes as “”a musician’s utopia.””

    The Rock

    Located just a few blocks south of the Park/University hub, The Rock is easily the closest concert hall to campus, and perhaps the cheapest. Unlike the Rialto and Club Congress, the Rock is a relatively young venue and it caters primarily to a relatively young audience. Students who live in close proximity to the venue have likely felt their homes quake under heavy bass lines and bawdy scream-o lyrics during one of the Rock’s perennial Battle of the Band competitions, inviting amateurs to rock out with fellow amateurs at the behest of the theater’s ample amplification. The Rock seems to specialize in the harder rock genres, but every once in a while an uncharacteristic gem like Streetlight Manifesto will take the stage and give Park Avenue an irrevocable license to dance. If it’s a cheap rock show you want, just say Rock.


    136 n. park ave.

    Coming this semester:

    Battle of the Bands (1/18), Scorned Embrace (2/7), Streetlight Manifesto (2/14), The Airborne toxic Event (3/23)

    Previous bookings:

    Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Apocalyptica, Plain
    White Ts, Deicide

    Average ticket price:


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