Nightlife for the nondrinker: the Ames music scene

Ashley Hunt

We’ve heard it a million times. You don’t have to drink to have fun. Our parents have said it. Our grandparents have said it. Our teachers have said it. Now I’m going to say it too.

Ames has more than enough options for the nondrinking ISU students. Ames has a great local music scene for students of all tastes and preferences to enjoy.

Some of Ames’ most popular venues for live music include the Maintenance Shop, Zeke’s and Stephens Auditorium.

The M-Shop, located in the Memorial Union, is Ames’ longest running night club. Starting in 1974, the M-Shop has been providing the ISU students and Ames citizens with thousands of opportunities to listen to live music.

Each week, the Maintenance Shop has acts lined up for nearly every night. Whether it’s a local band, a big name band or a comedy act, students can find cheap — or even free — entertainment right here on campus.

Tickets for concerts at the M-Shop run from about $5 to $15 for ISU students. Nonstudents can get tickets for a slightly higher price.

The M-Shop hosts approximately 30 musical acts each semester. Usually, there are three bands or artists in the lineup per week. Comedy shows are also popular at the M-Shop but are more sporadic in frequency.

If you haven’t been to a show at the M-Shop yet, put it on your to do list. A fun night club atmosphere right in our very own Memorial Union makes for an unforgettable experience. The M-Shop’s lineup has included countless local bands in the past, but there are some bigger names that have been there as well.

More recently, The Lumineers and The Civil Wars have played at the M-Shop.

Also, in the past — years and years ago — some even more famous acts have played including Jack Johnson and Smashing Pumpkins.

Jordan Garvey, the co-director of the M-Shop, is in charge of booking shows at the shop, running the shows and taking care of the bands that play at the venue.

Garvey said he and the committee work hard to get bands that are maybe not quite famous yet, but have the likelihood of making it big later on. That way, students can say they’ve seen that particular band play right here in Ames and right here on Iowa State’s campus.

“There is a pretty big local music scene [in Ames] and we try to get them into the M-Shop as often as possible so everyone can help support them,” Garvey said.

Zeke’s concert venue, located on Lincoln Way, is also known for its live music selections. Zeke’s, a non-profit run solely by volunteers, seats approximately 325 people. Besides concerts featuring nationally known bands, Zeke’s houses art shows, wedding receptions and club meetings as well.

There are also many concert opportunities at Stephens Auditorium. Tickets for these concerts are typically a bit pricier, but give you a variety of music styles. From symphonies and orchestras to hip hop and country, Stephens holds something for every music lover.

So whether you’re looking for a new band or to come support your favorite local artists, the Maintenance Shop has the right atmosphere and the right location to do that.

“We have shows on a lot of nights,” Garvey said. “So whenever there’s not much to do [elsewhere in Ames] there is almost always something to do at the M-Shop.”