Welcome to the wide, diverse world of the Quad-Cities music scene
I went through about a dozen different drafts for this first column, laying out my personal history in the Quad Cities music scene, in-depth retellings of experiences I’ve had in the past 16 years playing with every manner of musician, quantifying and qualifying all of the reasons why you, possible visiting music fan, should believe me and pay my opinions credence.
In truth, just the fact that I can say I’ve played with the heaviest metal bands and the softest neo-folk artists all within the geographical area of the Quad-Cities is in itself a better testament to the collection of creative souls in my hometown than burdening you with individual tales of house shows with collapsing floors or double-bookings leading to arrests for trespassing. Those tales will come out in future columns, there are too many beautiful Polaroids of this area’s strange circuitous growth in the last decade and a half to escape shaking out for you eventually, but for right now, why not a quick primer on where you could be spending your nights listening to music in the area?
The Quad-Cities has nearly a half dozen venues with event calendars so densely booked and musically diverse that you could visit each one every weekend for a month and never see the same band twice. And, for reasons likely steeped in historical relevancy and sociopolitical neuromancy, the bulk of these all have names beginning with “R.”
In downtown Davenport there’s The Redstone Room. Originators of the River Roots Live festival, The Redstone Room often features blues, roots, and jazz music, and hosts dozens of locally produced shows every year, such as the dynamic and ever-sequelizing Damn Good Time series of concerts, which have become a quarterly attraction.
Two blocks away is the brand new and quickly growing internet wunderkind Daytrotter studio and live venue. Known recently for organizing the weekly Moeller Mondays concert series, and the Daytrotter Downs festival, Daytrotter began as a website hosting one-off sets from nationally touring bands as they made their way through the area, and has grown into a local institution.
Just across the river there’s the eclectic and vibrant coffee hangout Rozz-Tox. In addition to formerly hosting the aforementioned Moeller Mondays concert series, as well as other similar shows, Rozz-Tox is also home to Junetopia, an all-day festival of music and art. Nearly every day of the week, Rozz-Tox is a space that celebrates local and regional creatives featuring touring bands, film festivals, and artist galleries. They make great food, too.
Less than a half-mile from Rozz-Tox, in the heart of Rock Island’s weekend hotspot called The District, is the Rock Island Brewing Company. RIBCO, as the QC calls it, hosts more known-name touring bands than any other venue in the area, and much of the time it taps local support for opening acts. This guarantees that whether you’re from the QC or just visiting, there’s something new and exciting for you on their calendar every weekend. They also host one of the area’s popular and diverse Battle of the Bands, with prizes such as studio time at one of the many QC recording spots and band merchandise from our many t-shirt and print media companies.
Finally but not at all least, in Moline there’s the Home for Heavy in the Quad Cities, Rascal’s. In addition to hosting countless local rock shows a year, Rascal’s often books favorite 80’s and 90’s groups, again providing a place for local bands to open. Rascal’s also works with local radio station 97X hosting a yearly Battle of the Bands which awards the winner an opening spot on a national tour show at the largest concert venue in the QC, the iWireless Center.
While each of the venues has its forte, in common they all share an enthusiasm and bedrock support for local music that extends to the audiences themselves. Seeing a show here is a slice of midwest eclecticism that never fails to surprise and entertain. Next time, we’ll talk about something else, so stay in touch!