By Mary Grace Richardson, Staff Writer
Stepping into the Orpheum Theater means leaving the predictable minimalism of the urban desert and unexpectedly entering something similar to a luxurious old-world arts society. Beware if you like hard-boiled and bare.
Rated the Best Venue for National Acts by the Phoenix New Times, the Orpheum joined the National Register of Historic Places in the ‘80s and is the only theater designated historic in the Valley. The remodeled interior’s classic entrances and lush chairs contribute to a blend of colonial revival and Spanish Baroque, and though it seems it would clash, it’s actually beautiful and striking. The newer, refurbished details all reference something beyond this time, making for attractive aesthetic play.
With a checkered past starting as a vaudeville house and Spanish-language cinema in 1929, the 1,400-capacity hall is a gorgeous atmosphere for a range of performances from alternative to operatic. It’s hard to come by a music venue like the Orpheum that is both neutral enough and architecturally strong enough to accommodate different styles and types of art.
Celestial and mysterious elements also adorn the venue, such as door panels imprinted with astrological symbols. Adding to the mood of another time and place, the ethereal cloudscape on the stage’s surrounding walls also softens the mood and gives audiences a dreamy impression before they take their seat.
The venue itself a demands a certain level of quality in it, making it understandable that the Orpheum is criminally underused as a music venue. After a stunning City and Colour concert this week, take the rare opportunity to see upcoming national acts, such as Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Ros on Oct. 14 or Iranian singer Ebi on Oct. 15.
If you want to make a night of seeing one of these concerts, grab dinner before the show at nearby places such as Vietnamese restaurant Rice Paper or Noodle Bar. For a cocktail or nightcap after the show, Valley Bar and Bitter & Twisted are also conveniently within walking distance of the venue.
Have fun, music-lovers!