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Live music, comedy returns to downtown venues

Comedy and concerts are making a comeback after 15 months.
Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 3:08 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - For 451 days, The Sylvee has stayed silent. The last time a band took the stage was on March 9, 2020 when Wilco performed live to a sold out crowd.

“It’s been hard to look through these venues everyday and see them empty, dark, and not being utilized,” said Matt Gerding, the president of FPC Live, which operates The Sylvee, The Majestic, and The Orpheum venues.

Gerding says music fans are highly anticipating the moment they can see their favorite artists in person.

“I think if there’s any silver lining from the last year, it’s been that people really realized how much they loved live music as part of their life,” said Gerding. “We’ve heard from a lot of fans that have just missed it terribly.”

Ticket sales for later this summer and into next year are evident of the pent-up demand.

“We’re excited to bring them back with a renewed sense of excitement around live music,” said Gerding.

Right now, the first show scheduled to make its return to The Sylvee stage is Modest Mouse on July 30th.

At Comedy on State, the owners say the venue is filling up with people looking for something to smile about.

“It’s been funny, we’ve had half the amount of people in here and the laughter noise has been the same,” said co-owner Eve Paras. “It feels like home again and it feels like everything is back to normal.”

The club reopened in April at limited capacity and is expanding seating now that the PHMDC order has lifted.

Paras says it has been just as exciting to see other entertainment venues announce their own reopening timelines.

“I’m so thankful that other venues are now joining us,” said Paras. “People have multiple options now when they come out downtown.”

While it was closed, Comedy on State went through a renovation to allow for even more seating and other COVID-19 safety measures.

This weekend, the club will be closed after recent flooding inside the venue. Comedy on State will reopen next week.

Owners and operators say venues are able to reopen because of Dane County’s vaccination rate.

“People getting vaccinated is the reason we’re able to open again,” said Paras.

“The more people that do that, the safer this environment is going to be,” said Gerding.

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