Aug. 31 2012 12:00 AM

Venues, record stores, music shops and local radio stations around town


If moving into your new digs at Michigan State University included lugging heavy boxes of vinyl LPs and guitars up seemingly endless flights of stairs, getting hip to Lansing’s music venues should be at the top of your list of things to do instead of homework. While mid-Michigan doesn’t have a St. Andrew’s Hall or Majestic Theatre, there are some great spots to check out left-of-the-dial tunes and some national touring groups. You may find there’s no need to make that hour-and-a-half trek to Detroit Rock City. Here's City Pulse's guide to everything you need to know about Lansing's music scene.


Blackened Moon Concert Hall

This music venue (no bar) holds over 400 people and specializes in all metal events – hence the cryptic name. Aside from live and loud hard rock events, the front of the concert hall also holds a metal-merchandise store – a huge variety of CDs, band shirts and other metal baubles. The venue’s bio states it perfectly: “This is for sure the spot for committed metal heads.”

The Green Door Blues Bar

Seems like ever since Jack White covered a couple Son House blues tunes and the Black Keys revitalized the genre, it’s been hip for students to dig on some Delta blues. The Green Door is a go-to blues joint, for sure. It has guitar slingers nearly every night of the week. Also, each Monday night, Steppin’ In It, a veteran Lansing roots band, performs hours of classic country, folk and blues. Aside from the basics, the band also incorporates an array of instruments, including a trombone, trumpet, Cajun accordion, dobro, slide guitar, Cajun fiddle and claw-hammer banjo.

The Loft

After walking up the huge flight of stairs it takes to get inside The Loft, a first-timer may be surprised at the size of the club. The venue, located in the Stadium District, opened in April 2010 and has since hosted weekly local music nights and national acts. There is free parking for The Loft in the lot behind Omar’s Show Bar and The Exchange. Big touring indie acts often stop here — Otep recently packed the house and The Wombats headline Sept. 8.

Mac’s Bar

This is Lansing’s classic dive bar/music venue. While the sordid floor at this place has seen better days and the black walls, plastered with gig posters, make the darkest of metal heads feel at home, Mac’s is actually host to all genres of under-the radar music. From its annual indie folk festival, to hardcore punk, hip-hop, electronic, and Monday night comedy shows – it really covers all bases. One night could be a touring national act, the next a roster of locals cutting their teeth. For those looking for a high-energy dance night, Detroit techno legend Terrance Parker spins a set at Mac’s on Oct. 20.

Pump House Concerts

Pump House Concerts is an intimate, community-operated “listening room” tucked away in East Lansing’s Bailey neighborhood at 368 Orchard St. It hosts solo artists and duos, mainly in the area of alt-country, Americana and folk — often from Nashville and other twang-friendly cities. The building itself is a converted water-pumping house built by the Works Progress Association in the 1930s, creating a distinctive space for an intimate live show. The venue operates solely on donations; all money goes to the performers.

(SCENE) Metrospace

This low-key gallery/venue in downtown East Lansing opened in 2004 and has since become a fixture in the Americana singer/songwriter and indie music scene. It’s also a great place to meet other locals steeped in the arts. It’s an art gallery (no bar), but this city-funded space isn’t intended for getting plowed on PBRs and mosh pit — it’s about experiencing creativity in a mellow atmosphere. Aside from music events and art exhibits, there are also theatrical productions, independent film screenings, dance and poetry.

The Ten Pound Fiddle
This concert series has been the heart of the Lansing folk scene since its debut in 1975. Since then, the concert series has grown in volunteers and members (members receive a discount on ticket prices). With a strong focus on a diverse mixture of traditional folk, the Fiddle could showcase a national Celtic artist, a renowned banjo player, and a bluegrass picker all in the same season. The shows are held in various locations, most often at the Unitarian Universalist Church and the Hannah Community Center, both in East Lansing. The series goes on a short hiatus over the summer but starts back up Sept. 14 at 8:00 pm with a farewell performance from Nervous But Excited at Unitarian Universalist Church, 855 Grove St., in East Lansing.

Uli’s Haus of Rock

Hard and heavy bands often crank it up to 11 on Uli’s stage. The venue and bar brings in some national and local headbangers multiple times per week. You can also grab lunch, dinner, drinks or some coffee while you’re there. Thursday the venue hosts Texas-based rockers Twice Broken, along with openers The Darwin Project and Silent Theory.

Zeppelin’s Music Hall

This is the newest addition to the Lansing music scene, opening just a few months ago. Located across the street from the Green Door, this 18 and over venue hosts all types of music, including goth, industrial, punk, jazz, rock — even some comedy shows and film screenings. The owner has some original Warhol drawings showcased on the walls, so pop-art lovers may want to give it a shot, also.


Club X-Cel

This is another downtown Lansing spot for bumpin’ bass beats and booze. X-Cel’s Facebook bio states “Club X-Cel is young, fun and offers an atmosphere much closer to Chicago than to Lansing with a one of a kind design.” The 18 and over club has a new light show and sound system, massive dance floors but also ample seating for those needing to take a break from doing their erratic dance

The Firm

The Firm bills itself as “the ultimate dining and dancing experience.” It’s located on the Washington Square strip near the Capitol Building and features a unique drink menu and an “exciting nightlife atmosphere,” including live music spun by energetic DJs. For the wallflower types, there’s pool tables.


Spiral dubs itself as “Lansing’s Premier Alternative Nightclub.” This 18 and over club has been the go-to place for dance nights and drag queen performances for years. There are drink specials and other weekly events that keep the place bumping. Friday: 97.5-FM and Spiral host “Fusion Friday” featuring DJ Sammy spinning the best in Top 40, hip hop and dance music. The following night is “Uncut Saturdays” with DJ John Cruz, 21 and over get in free until 11 p.m. Spiral’s Facebook says it’s “our biggest night … these nights get packed!”


Flat, Black & Circular

Since 1977, Flat, Black & Circular (FBC, for short) has been the hub for local music lovers and collectors. The second-floor store stocks hordes of rare LPs and 7-inches of all genres, including punk, classic rock, jazz, electronic and hip hop. There are also thousands of new and used CDs and DVDs – they even still stock some choice cassettes, so if you’re still looking for “Nevermind” on tape, you could be in luck. This is also a great spot to pick up a new/used turntable and stereo equipment.

The Record Lounge

Just down the street from FBC sits another indie record shop. The Record Lounge only sells vinyl — its sidewalk sign even has “No CDs” scrawled on it. It’s got everything from new indie LPs to thousands of used classic rock records. If you’re on a limited budget, pick up a few band stickers or some old music magazines. This store also hosts a bunch of local music in-store performances.


88.9 WDBM-FM The Impact

The Impact, MSU’s student-operated station, plays a lot of alternative rock, but it also supports local artists. Every Thursday, “The Basement,” an hour-long show, plays strictly Michigan (and often Lansing-based) musicians. Area folk singers are frequently featured performing live on the show, which airs from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. If you and your roomies decide to start a band, The Basement could likely be your first exposure to the FM airwaves.

889.7 WLNZ-FM

WLNZ, Lansing Community College’s radio station, not only plays an assortment of tunes from local artists, but also a long list of area musicians even host shows on the station. WLNZ is also known for getting out into the community and broadcasting live from Sir Pizza in Lansing’s Old Town. Check out the “Live and Local” playlist at its official site.


Elderly Instruments

Elderly’s brick and mortar and online store has been a local sanctuary for folk instruments since 1972. The massive store, located at 1100 N. Washington Ave. in Old Town, carries everything a person would need to start a finger-pickin’ bluegrass group or a twangy roots band. The store has a repair shop and also hosts many in-store events, often in the realm of folk and country music. If you need a rare $10,000 acoustic, or a deal on a used electric guitar, this community staple is worth a shot.

Marshall Music

Marshall Music Company first opened back in 1948 in a modest spot in downtown Lansing. By the mid-60s, the store was selling piles of guitars to kids wanting to imitate the Beatles. Today, the store still sells stringed instruments, amps, drums, horns, pianos, sheet music and more. It’s even grown into a small chain across a few cities. Since late 1978, the massive store has been located in the Frandor Shopping Center (a.k.a. the invisible line many MSU students supposedly seldom cross).