They say once is chance. Twice is coincidence. But the third time — that’s a pattern. Tallying our votes for the third year of Best of the West here at Revue, several favorites in the music category achieved what has eluded many in any given field: the illustrious three-peat.
Five of this year’s winners dominated their categories for the third year in a row, with the Grand Rapids Symphony, 88.1 WYCE and Vertigo Music cementing their long-established titles as iconic institutions within the West Michigan music community. Supported by loyal listeners, vinyl lovers and classical enthusiasts who share their avid appreciation via social media and word of mouth daily, it’s no surprise this triad of greatness has become the gold-standard for West Michigan’s musical legacy.
Meanwhile, Grand Rapids cover band Brena and GR DJ AB (a.k.a. Adrian Butler) both continued their reigns as they work hard to rock the local scene.
As for venues, the massive size and wide-reaching appeal of 20 Monroe Live drove the now one-year-old venue to the top of our Best Music Venue list after bringing in dozens of bands that didn’t have quite the proper venue before. The Intersection also changed the game earlier this year, adding two new venues under its roof — The Mint and Elevation — earning it a solid third-place finish behind last year’s winner and strongly-beloved indie-rock club The Pyramid Scheme.
Two third-place finishers from last year also soared into first place this year, as GR rockabilly duo Jesse Ray & the Carolina Catfish jumped up to the top of the Best Original Band Category, and GR rapper Lady Ace Boogie took home top honors as Best Solo Music Artist. That latter category emerged as the year’s most interesting, as all three top slots went to female artists for the first time, with Earthwork Music pioneer May Erlewine and Kalamazoo music ambassador Megan Dooley joining Lady Ace in celebrating the depth and diversity of talent right here in West Michigan.
Check out the rest of this year’s results to see if your favorites made it onto the list!
- Project 90
- Todd Ernst
- DJ Kane
- Founders Fest
235 Grandville Ave. SW, Grand Rapids
- Electric Forest
- Festival of the Arts
- 20 Monroe Live
11 Ottawa Ave. NW, Grand Rapids
- The Pyramid Scheme
- The Intersection
- Jesse Ray and the Carolina Catfish
- The Crane Wives
- Trixy Tang
- 88.1 FM - WYCE
- 97.9 - WGRD
- 93.7 - B93
Solo Musical Artist
- Lady Ace Boogie
- May Erlewine
- Megan Dooley
- Grand Rapids Symphony
- Grand Rapids Youth Symphony
- Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra
Vinyl Record Store
- Vertigo Music
129 S. Division Ave., Grand Rapids
- Corner Record Shop
- Dodds Record Shop
The Go Rounds
Logging long hours on the road for years now, including helping to found the truly unique Farm Block Fest in the Upper Peninsula, Kalamazoo psych-rock band The Go Rounds hasn’t earned as much hometown love on this list as it deserves. But that should change. Still touring steadily all around the Midwest and elsewhere in support of its brand-new EP, the group has a new full-length album on the way and continues to evolve a mind-blowing sound. — Eric Mitts
Park Theater 248 S. River Ave., Holland, MI
The Park Theater, a nonprofit music venue huddled in the heart of Holland’s downtown, is one of the lakeshore town’s greatest hidden gems. Bustling every Tuesday evening for the open-mic night, people of all ages and performance styles sign up for 15-minute slots. The Park cultivates community alongside its great open mics and shows too, so if you show up to the theater regularly (which you’ll want to do), you’re basically guaranteed a crowd of cool new friends. — Michaela Stock
Audiotree Music Festival
Each year, this growing music festival just continues to branch out, expanding its lineup, its scope and its scale of what a city-based music festival can do in West Michigan. Returning for two days (Sept. 22 & 23) at Downtown Kalamazoo’s Arcadia Creek Festival Site, Audiotree extends to another level with high-profile names like Father John Misty and Local Natives topping the bill, alongside a collaboration with Western Michigan University’s own student-run radio station 89.1 WIDR-FM for the creation of a locally focused second stage.