Downtown Grand Rapids’ newest concert venue and its debut performers earned high marks from a teeming and happy crowd on Wednesday night. (Review, photo galleries)
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There ain’t no party like a New Orleans party, and Trombone Shorty brought that New Orleans party to Grand Rapids on a wintry Wednesday to celebrate the opening of the gleaming new 20 Monroe Live concert venue.
All indications are it was a triumphant debut for the long-awaited concert hall with 2,000-plus ebullient fans jamming the building for crowd-pleasing sets by Michigan’s own Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers, followed by Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue.
With slick lighting and top-drawer sound, 20 Monroe Live lived up to its billing as a coveted place for bands to play.
“There really isn’t a bad seat in the house,” raved concertgoer Steve Weideman, of Grand Haven, who secured comfortable seats upstairs in the mezzanine. “The sightlines are great.”
Those packed into the standing-room-only main floor, meanwhile, cheered and grooved to the extended jams supplied by Trombone Shorty, aka Troy Andrews, and his uber-talented five-piece band which unleashed musical romps – from “Here Come the Girls” to “One Night Only (The March)” – that were alternately funky, jazzy, rocking, soulful and appropriately festive for the occasion. Andrews, of course, showed off his considerable chops on trombone and trumpet throughout the evening, along with spirited vocals.
(The band played Grand Rapids on a night off from opening for the Red Hot Chili Peppers on a U.S. tour that stops in Detroit on Thursday.)
‘AN EXTREMELY EXCITING TIME’ AHEAD
“We party all night,” a cheerful Andrews sang at one point. Many of the most enthusiastic on hand at 20 Monroe Live probably wished they could have done just that – even on a Wednesday night.
Not that there weren’t a few minor opening-night glitches, with occasional complaints about $12 beers (sold at bars graced with video screens that made sure patrons didn’t miss any of the action on stage) and qualms about the lack of seating on the main floor (seating arrangements can vary, depending on the show).
But mostly there seemed to be a feeling of enthusiasm for the robust schedule of concerts booked for the venue in coming months, with Umphrey’s McGee rolling in on Thursday, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Laith Al-Saadi on Friday and Shinedown and Wayland playing a sold-out show Saturday. Get details and the full schedule online at 20monroelive.com.
Between sets, Greg Gilmore of The Gilmore Collection, which owns The B.O.B. and 20 Monroe Live, and Ron Bension of Live Nation, which operates 20 Monroe Live, acknowledged fans and presented Grand Rapids’ New City Kids organization with a $5,000 check for its after-school programs. To further up the ante, Live Nation also gave two astonished students instruments — a new electric bass and keyboard — with an autographed trombone awarded to Gilmore himself.
“It’s going to be an extremely exciting time,” Gilmore told the audience, noting the 20 Monroe Live project has been in the works for many years.
To add to the upbeat vibe, a Michigan-bred band, Lansing’s Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers, clearly made a lot of new fans on Wednesday, earning a rousing ovation after a funky opening set that wrapped up with a happy Hertler inducing fans to break out the Rainbow Seekers’ patented dance move.
Hertler – who returns for a headlining show with his band at 20 Monroe Live on April 1, following release of a long-awaited new studio album – may have summed it all up best: “This is a really, really nice evening,” he crowed.
PHOTO GALLERY: NO. 1: Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers
Photos by Anthony Norkus
Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers
Photos by Anna Sink
VIDEO: Trombone Shorty at 20 Monroe Live
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