All Ears, All The Time: Studio Park’s Listening Room will be a new kind of venue

In the digital age, every diehard music fan has attended at least one concert where the whole vibe got ruined by one person. Whether it’s a fan holding up an iPad to record the entire show or a drunk who won’t shut up once the music starts, crowds can completely remove you from that magical moment where artist and listener become one.

Enter the new Studio C Listening Room.

The new 200-person capacity music venue currently plans to open in November as part of the recent multi-million-dollar Studio Park project along Oakes Street SW in downtown Grand Rapids. In the works for more than five years, the area also will house restaurants, retail space, apartments, a hotel and a nine-screen movie theater. 

Nestled right in the middle of all this exciting new development will be the new Listening Room. A concert-going experience unlike any other currently available in GR, the Listening Room will be seated for every show and the focus will be entirely on the music.

The project is headed up by former WYCE Station Manager Quinn Mathews, who teamed up with JD Loeks, president of Studio C.

“While I was at WYCE, being a community radio station, we all worked very closely with the community to promote music in West Michigan,” Mathews said. “I had met with JD Loeks while at the station about teaming up for some events and sponsorships for movies and film. He informed me of his desire to open a music venue that has a listening room environment more than just a bar or rock club, where you really go to experience the art of music.”

Seeing the potential in the Grand Rapids community, Mathews — now music operations manager and talent buyer for the Listening Room — developed the venue, drawing on his years of experience in the music business.

“I’m oddly enough not even from here,” Mathews said. “I grew up in North Carolina and spent 10 years in Nashville (as a touring musician) before coming here.  I’ve been in and out of every club, bar, coffee shop — you name it — playing music, so I feel like I’ve seen it all.”

Mathews came onto the project last August and has been going nonstop, working out everything from acoustics and audio to interior design and more.

“This place was a parking lot and we needed to build a music venue, and we needed to get info to the builders fast,” he said. “What I can tell you is that this room will just plain feel really good. It’s got a Sinatra vibe to it even, with booths along the walls for larger groups of attendees. There’s a bar with servers. Nice bourbon, beer, wine. But when those house lights go down and stage lights go up, you shut up and listen for the next two hours.”

With construction on schedule, Mathews said he plans to host a soft opening featuring local music for friends and community members in October, with the Listening Room’s official opening slated for November. 

“I’m booking and planning programming now and I can tell you it’s going to be some amazing shows,” Mathews said. “We are hoping to be active with music as much as 20 nights a month. You can plan on shows here four or five, if not six or seven nights a week. (And we’ll have) a little bit of everything. Tickets could be as low as $5 and as high as $75. National talent in an environment like you have never seen them. Regional touring artists, local artists, community events … it’s going to be an active place, and I can’t wait to see you all this fall.”