The premier 1980s tribute band comes to Marquette

Alisa Fox

New Wave Nation has rocked its way once more to the Marquette area. This ‘80s music tribute band will be performing on the stage at Upfront & Co. this weekend, and these Ohio natives have made Marquette a popular performance location for the past few years.

“We were working with an agent who turned us on to Upfront & Co., but we were like, ‘No, its way too far up there.’ Somehow he convinced us to give it a shot. We assumed it would be a one time thing, but once we got up there we were like, ’This is great,’” said Ken Harding, the guitarist for New Wave Nation. “We had so much fun that first time.”

They have been coming back, gradually increasing their shows from twice a year to four times a year at Upfront & Co., which is something they never imagined they’d be doing. When they first started as a band 13 years ago, they figured they’d be playing for a maximum of five years, Harding said.

“In 1998, everybody was playing ‘70s music. It was cool and it was drawing huge crowds in all the big markets like Chicago and Detroit. So the next obvious trend that we knew would come around had to be the ‘80s, so we kind of made a jump for it and, sure enough, it caught on in a year or two,” said Harding.

Thirteen years later, they are still playing the ‘80s hits with an extensive song list that includes popular favorites like “Jessie’s Girl,” “Love Shack” and “99 Red Balloons.” The work doesn’t end, said Harding. They are always looking for new material to add to the show.

“I don’t like to give this sort of information away, but yes, we will be trying out some new songs at our show this weekend,” Harding said.

With a history of turning up good crowds for New Wave Nation’s shows, Marquette seems a good place to try out new material.

“I wish more markets were more like Marquette, because they turn up and they show up in ‘80s costumes, and they get excited about what we’re doing. You couldn’t pay people in some of these other markets to do that, but that’s what we’re all about,” Harding said.

There are several differences that make New Wave Nation distinctive to all other eighties tribute bands, aside from their Divo-inspired attire. As they play popular hits, the original music video plays on multiple screens behind them, giving the crowd a taste of the ‘80s style.

“All these songs in the ‘80s were meant for what we do, which is crowd interaction and having them be a part of the show and getting them wound up,” said Harding. “If you put a crowd in front of us, we’re going to entertain them for three hours.”

With an amazing average of 40 songs per show and a strong dance beat in every song, it’s clear why Upfront & Co. has a history of filling up fast when New Wave Nation is in town.

Katie Olson, a senior at Northern and an English writing major, said she enjoyed seeing New Wave Nation’s show the last time they were in Marquette.

“I liked a lot of the stuff they played because I knew a lot of it, and they played a lot of songs that I liked. They really got the crowd going so that was pretty cool,” Olson said.

Olson also said that she enjoyed Upfront & Co.’s venue in general.

“(Upfront & Co.) has better music than the Mix, and it’s more upscale. It has a better atmosphere, more mature. It’s a lot of fun,” said Olson.

Another NMU student, Kristina Tickler, a junior computer science major, also said that she enjoys going to Upfront & Co. every weekend for the live music and the dancing.

“Students should come because it would be something to do to take a break from studying and homework,” Tickler said. “(New Wave Nation) seemed pretty cool and very entertaining, plus ‘80s music is always good.”

New Wave Nation will be playing this weekend at Upfront & Co. both Friday and Saturday nights. Both shows start at 10 p.m. and are free of charge; however, it is the policy of Upfront & Co. that people attending after 10 p.m. should be 21 or older. For more information about the show, you can call Upfront & Co. at (906) 228-5200. For more information about New Wave Nation and their other shows, visit