Playing Music in the Quiet Zone

Music in the Stacks returns to the Grand Rapids Public Library on Oct. 19.

The hottest live music venue in town might be… the Grand Rapids Public Library? Yes, you read that correctly. A place that’s known for whispered conversations and hushed tones, the downtown library will turn up the volume once a month for its Music in the Stacks concert series.

The library is launching its fourth season of the program, with the first performance featuring Hollywood Makeout, Thursday, Oct. 19, at 7 p.m.

Librarian Katie Broderick first suggested the idea, inspired by Take-Away shows from video-blog La Blogotheque, which posts intimate videos of mostly underground artists playing in unusual settings.

“The program not only serves as a platform for independent artists, but it also brings local music enthusiasts together to share a unique, intimate experience,” said Broderick. “Libraries still deal with the ‘shh’ stereotype every day, so this program is just one way to break down that stereotype.”

The shows are held in the Bibliography room, a space that features surprisingly good acoustics. The location also promotes a family-friendly environment, introducing the performing bands to a new audience of future fans.

The Extra Texture perform as part of Music in the Stacks series.
The Extra Texture perform as part of Music in the Stacks series.

The 2017 seasonal debut band Hollywood Makeout is ready to rock the library. This will be the first event for the indie rock/surf band, which had to adjust its set for the unique venue. The band is using acoustic guitars and light percussion, which will result in a quieter sound.

“We can’t hide behind massive volume the way we normally do,” said Tim Warren, the band’s guitarist.

He said the band’s looking forward to the more intimate setting. “We’ve seen several of our friends’ bands play there; it’s a great way for non-club/bar people to see local bands.”

The library isn’t the most unusual place Hollywood Makeout has played. It’s also performed at a roller rink, a playground for kindergartners and most recently, the Grand Lady Riverboat to celebrate the launch of its newest album.

The library has three concerts planned for the rest of the year, including October’s event. Next month’s event will feature Karisa Wilson, Thursday, Nov. 16, and they have a special Christmas set with The Bootstrap Boys on Thursday, Dec. 21.

“Libraries are an important part of any community,” adds Warren. “Music In the Stacks is definitely a great example of that.”