By Brittany Plothow
Downtown Provo is home to two major music venues: Velour Live Music Gallery and Muse Music Cafe. A lot of people are familiar with Velour, likely due to the fact that major music acts trace their roots back to Velour’s stage. Neon Trees, Fictionist, Imagine Dragons, Mount Saint, and many other name-droppable acts have come of age at Velour. But Muse is also a frequented location – it being the oldest venue in Provo despite changing hands a few times.
Velour and Muse are mere footsteps from each other on University Avenue in the heart of the surprisingly cool downtown Provo. Velour tends to be a little slicker in decor and advertising. The stage may be a little more aesthetically pleasing than Muse, if you’re a fan of stained glass that is. Velour also tends to feature bigger acts which pulls in a larger crowd.
Muse is not without its charms. It often features music that Velour does not, providing an outlet for bands who play metal, punk, and ska. Muse is in fact a “music cafe” by its very name and is known for its food. The small, dark, room in the back where artists play has exposed brick walls that are covered with the names and signatures of hundreds of concert patrons from years past. It’s really cozy and has a nice feel about it.
But which venue do locals prefer?
“I prefer Velour. I’ve been to both, but I’ve listened to all my favorites at Velour including, but not limited, to JWride, Fictionist, and Imagine Dragons,” Mark Rellaford of Provo said when asked which venue he frequents most. “I like the feel of the place. It has a good amount of space for those who want to stand and even areas for sitting, which is great! Imagine Dragons was the first band I saw there and it was awesome!”
Aimee Vargas works in the local music scene and she also prefers Velour saying, “When I go in, I feel like I’m at home and I can shut out all my problems within those few hours I’m at Velour. The owners are really nice. They are incredibly professional, know what they are doing, and love focusing on increasing awareness of the local talent. They support downtown Provo on many things like Rooftop Concert Series.”
However, there are those for whom Muse is the better choice. Chris Larson is one of them. “Muse is usually less pretentious. They will let anyone have the chance to draw a crowd and play a good show. Velour has been known to turn down acts on style and genre. Muse always pulls down all kinds of acts. Further, Muse has a cafe that makes some bomb grilled cheese sandwiches.”
Others also echo Larson in feeling like Muse is perhaps more welcoming. “The ownership of Velour is quite frankly pretty rude sometimes. They think they’re way cooler than they are and Muse is the exact opposite. They let younger bands play without a fuss and are easy to work with. I’ve never had a negative experience with Muse,” said Muse loyalist Josh Paul.
Chris Gerber said it simply, “Muse is definitely less pretentious.”
Both Velour and Muse have helped the growing and ever impressive Provo music scene thrive and both have helped local bands launch rather impressive followings and careers. Without either venue it’s fair to ask if we would have Neon Trees or Imagine Dragons like we do today. What would The Perks of Being a Wallflower movie be without the tunnel-driving anthem of “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons? And what would we do without Tyler Glenn’s infectious and just plain wonderful on-stage antics and fabulous fashion sense, not to mention that powerful Rolling Stone interview?
Well, Provo would be a hell of a lot more boring, that’s for sure.