What’s all this racket about a new music venue?

Ian Crane

In a single room, a stage is dimly lit by two sets of multi-colored stage lights.  Sound monitors dot the front of the stage with amplifiers sitting symmetrically on each side.  A drum set is near the back wall.

This is what Christopher Shelafoe thinks of when it comes to small local music shows.“This is what live music looks like to me and that’s what  I want to see from this venue,” Chris said. Chris is referring to The Racket, a new music venue that is scheduled to open in Marquette Feb. 28 and is co-owned by Chris and his wife, Kerri.

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It is located on U.S. 41 West and is the second business opened by the couple in Marquette, the first being Rendezvous Tattoo and Precision Body Piercing.

Chris found that Marquette had few places for bands to showcase new, original music that don’t sell alcohol.

Much of Marquette’s music scene is connected to the bar scene, Chris said.

“There’s a lot of talent in Marquette and we want a place for them to play that is more concerned with the bands than with getting people in the door for a drink,” Chris said.

Chris said one of the problems facing the Marquette music scene are bars that keep young adults from seeing live music.  Kids and young adults often times can’t go to many of the live music shows that come to Marquette due to their age.

“Let’s make something perfectly clear: The Racket is not a bar and it will never be a club,” Chris said. “This is an                   event center.”

Marquette has an abundance of places to drink with many of them hosting live music, said Kerri, who added that The Racket doesn’t serve alcoholic beverages of any kind and doesn’t intend to.

“If we became a club, we wouldn’t be original, not to mention all the extra competition we’d have that we just don’t need,” Kerri said.

While it could be beneficial to Marquette’s music scene, the venue’s location was considered a possible problem. However, the owners don’t see it that way.  The parking lot holds about 80 cars and it is right off the highway, said Chris.

“We heard the same thing about the tattoo shop, but this location has been great,” Chris said. “I don’t think I’ve heard of anyone actually having a problem with the location.”

The Racket has already put on a few shows as test runs, such as two drag shows.

The Racket will be more than just music, Chris said. Plans for having a movie night are already being made and more catered events are being taken into consideration. Adult-only nights, such as the drag shows, are also being planned.

“A lot of ideas are in the works,” Kerri said. “Original acts are super important and that’s what I want to play here, but that definitely doesn’t mean that other events won’t be happening here.”

Local musician and The    Racket staff member Marcel Grengs sees this as an opportunity for the Marquette community to see more local bands.

The venue will also give local bands exposure they wouldn’t normally receive, Grengs said.

“This venue is going to be sweet,” Grengs said, “Once the bands start playing, this is going to be like nothing in Marquette.”

The Racket’s official opening show is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 28 at 8 p.m. with the band Fried Chinese Donalds playing. The Gray Beast, Dead Friends and Face-Bomb are also scheduled to play.