I remember my first time at Newport Music Hall.
I was just days into my freshman year, eager to get involved at The Lantern as a journalism major. As a sports writer, I thought my first story would be showing off the knowledge, or lack thereof, of all Ohio State sports, with my eyes set on football and men’s basketball.
Instead, my Lantern experience began with a concert review of Swedish folk singer Kristian Matsson, better known as The Tallest Man on Earth.
I walked into the Newport for the first time, pen and paper at the ready, eager to impress the members of what I viewed as a newsroom of veteran student reporters.
But once my ticket was scanned and I saw the venue for the first time, those emotions went away. I saw the high ceilings with the designs of a ballroom, the pit where people accumulated near the stage, a simple platform with cracks in it. I saw the balconies where people stood, anxiously awaiting the arrival of the performers.
The Newport was originally built as a movie theater in 1923, later converting into a concert venue and priding itself on being the “Longest Continually Running Rock Club in the Country.”
It looked old, much older than any venue I had been to prior. It looked like it had history.
And it’s that history that earned Newport Music Hall the readers’ pick as best concert venue.
During the many times I’ve been a single concertgoer among Newport’s max capacity of 1,700, I’ve created my own personal history with the music hall.
I remember making the walk to the Newport on the final night of my freshman year from Morrill Tower, and despite my Spanish II final the next day at 8 a.m., I screamed my heart out to “Keep Yourself Warm” with the late Scott Hutchison and Frightened Rabbit.
I remember standing in the front row at an Explosions in the Sky show, unable to stop head bobbing as the Texas-based post-rock band put on one of the best showcases of pure artistry I, a Houston-based reporter, had ever seen.
I remember standing at the back of the pit, watching the crowd, spanning from 10-year-olds to 60-year-olds, mosh to “American Idiot” at a sold-out Green Day show. And I remember running into a mosh pit at a JPEGMAFIA and Vince Staples show, accidentally head-butting a random stranger.
Newport Music Hall is not about the venue itself, with its simple stage, large speakers and lack of seating. It’s about the music; it’s about the history of bands, big and small, that have played there. It’s about what I experienced in my four years at the venue.
My first story, The Tallest Man on Earth concert review, was published the next day. I had tried too hard, describing the crowd as “bearded twenty-somethings,” eventually turning in what was a too-short, 375-word account of the music heard that night.
But that night began my love affair with live music in Columbus, starting at a fancy, old ballroom right across the street from the Ohio Union.