The Westcott Theater: Bringing People Together with the Power of Live Music


Photo Courtesy of PNG Photos.

The white hot stage lights burn past two figures; towering silhouettes gripping guitars are paused like statues before an intimate audience. Tension builds; jarring opera blares as the crowd is suspended in anticipation, waiting for the first note to drop from the Scottish rock band, Biffy Clyro. Just the right amount of discomfort stirs in the air, so when the opening chord of “Wolves of Winter” strikes, everyone is relieved — and ready to rock.

This was my Friday night: It started among strangers, my head bobbing along to the beat, and finished with my arm around a new friend, swaying and howling lyrics into the air. That’s the power of live music; It brings people together.

That’s also why I have a special place in my music heart for a little-known, old movie theater turned music hall. About a 6 minute drive from campus, The Westcott Theater is nothing spectacular during the day — an unlit marquee; a sloped, sticky, empty floor; a decent size stage. It’s something easily passed by, but I think that’s a mistake.

At night, when music lovers have filed in and a light show cuts through the darkness, The Westcott Theater is a space for transcendent experiences, as all live music venues should be. It’s hard not to be moved by the rhythmic thud of the bass in your chest. It’s hard not to melt when the voice you’ve heard through your headphones finally soars out of a singer’s mouth.

It’s impossible to see this same experience reflected in a complete stranger and not feel intimately connected. This is what people come for: a highly personal moment shared with others. Live music has never really been about the location; it’s always been about the atmosphere, and The Westcott Theater oozes that goosebump inducing vibe.

The venue, unsurprisingly located on Westcott Street, was originally built in 1919 and used as a cinema house until 2008 when it was renovated into the music hall it is today. In 2014, new remodeling updated the space with two additional bars, removable seating, lighting tresses, and an improved sound system — all without losing it’s original luster. With low-priced tickets and artists from all genres welcomed to the stage, a wide range of people come together to share in their common love of live music.

In a space like this, there’s a special type of performance, one only possible when the artist is able to look each audience member in the eye, that just isn’t possible in big stadium arenas. These are the nights filled with enough intimacy and intensity to send chills down your spine or bring a tear to your eye — the nights that matter.

These are the shows happening right down the street from Le Moyne. Whether you’re into punk, jam, rock, or bluegrass, there’s a meaningful moment waiting to happen within the aged walls of The Westcott Theater.