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The Rock: A staple concert venue in Tucson

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Courtesy The Rock

A band performs at the Rock, a local music venue. Many famous bands and artists have performed here, including Korn and the Goo Goo Dolls.

For music lovers searching to try out a new concert venue, look no further than The Rock Tucson. Located on Park Avenue, local and national bands come to share their talent within its black, sticker and poster-laden walls. Fans can stand in front of a small stage, getting up close and personal with their favorite musicians.

While the Rock is known for hosting mostly rock bands, the venue welcomes performers from a variety of musical genres, thus serving a wide audience and giving patrons the ability to discover new music.

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Kent Van Stelle, owner of The Rock, opened his business in 1997 to provide a place to hear live music. According to him, many well-known bands played there during their rise to fame. Notable examples include Korn, the Goo Goo Dolls and Gwen Stefani.

“Thousands of bands have played here and many of them have made it to the top of their game, you know, to the top level of the music industry,” Van Stelle said.

Simon Asher | The Daily Wildcat

A wall of stickers inside The Rock on Wednesday, June 14. The venue has a long history of supporting both nationally-famous and local musical acts. 

Van Stelle believes that The Rock is one of the places many bands feel obligated to perform at. He said that seeing fantastic bands up close and in such an intimate and personal setting is a thrill for him.

“For me, it’s seeing people put their energy into music as opposed to violence or something else," Van Stelle said. "To me, that is really cool. I might not agree with the music or the lyrics, but this is their way of venting their ideas, what they want to say."

The Rock doesn’t only host nationally-known bands and musicians; the venue has a history of helping out the local music scene by giving Tucson bands a place in the spotlight.

“We have seen many bands that start in a garage and start playing out, and we were one of the only ones that helped them for many years,” Van Stelle said.

The Rock often gives local bands and artists gigs as openers for bigger headlining shows.

Chase Welch, production manager at The Rock, is the go-to person for technical equipment at the venue. Welch is looking forward to helping local bands network and expand their professional presence.

Simon Asher | The Daily Wildcat

A wall adorned with show posters and bras, inside The Rock, "where legends are made." The concert venue aims to be a music haven where fans of all ages can come and enjoy live music.

For UA students looking to relax off-campus and listen to new music, The Rock is a viable choice that’s not far away and provides a variety of genres that students can appreciate.

Welch believes that more students would go there if they knew more about the venue.

“[If] somehow we can make the students more aware that we are right down the street, in close proximity, and that we have all kinds of national touring acts, from rock to reggae, to hip-hop… there’s a lot of stuff going on,” Welch said.

Avery Nevae, The Rock's marketing and social media director, also believes that if more UA knew about the venue, they would come and like what they find.

"It’s kind of hard to know about a place unless you are from here and know that it’s already there," she said.

Nevae brings new customers to The Rock by marketing through social media, posting flyers, and talking to people around town. She hopes students see the venue as an off-campus spot where they can enjoy music and be around friends. She believes The Rock gives patrons a chance to experience an aspect of the community that they might not have otherwise seen.

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Regarding the future of The Rock, Nevae said, "I just hope that we’re still able to grow and support the local music scene… and still make music something attainable for people. I believe the local scene is looking to continue to help the next generation and The Rock is the perfect example of that.”

This Saturday, June 17, The Rock will hold an industry networking event with local band "Ensphere" performing.

The event will be an opportunity for local bands and artists to gain insight into the music business. Admission is free and there will be booths manned by vendors and companies involved in the local music scene.

“We’re trying to help local bands network with vendors to teach them what it takes to succeed more than just coming and playing music,” Van Stelle said.

The sponsors for the event include tattoo shops, recording studios, merchandise companies and other businesses that rising bands and musicians can benefit from making contact with.


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