Live on King Street a sweet musical treat

Live on King Street a sweet musical treat

When Scott Leslie left Buffalo, New York, he took with him an interesting idea: a free concert series called Thursday at the Square. Started in 1987, the weekly summer event in Buffalo booked acts like The Mamas and the Papas, the Violent Femmes, Neko Case and George Clinton over the years.

Leslie, who co-owns the Majestic Theatre with Matt Gerding, wanted to retool the free outdoor concert concept for Madison. With Peter Bjorn and John already booked to play the Majestic Theatre in August 2011, they decided to move the concert outdoors as an experiment.

Setting up a stage on King Street, just outside the glowing marquee, the one-time show was a big hit. Crowds flocked with excitement to the edge of the Capitol Square. Clearly, Madison wanted more.

So the Majestic kept doing it—slating not one, but six major King Street concerts each summer. Now, with an average turnout of about 4,000 people, Live on King Street has become a can’t-miss Madison staple. Past years have brought big names like tUnE-yArDs, Ziggy Marley and Cloud Cult (twice!) to the 100 block of King. This year, catch Ra Ra Riot, The Kills and Horseshoes & Hand Grenades.

Now in its fifth year, the momentum of Live on King Street keeps growing. As Leslie puts it, the concert series has become “a defining part of what makes Madison, Madison in the summer.”

After all, who can say no to free music on a summer night? Get there early, buy a beer and enjoy a festival-level lineup of national acts in the heart of our city. Then you can find out if beer truly tastes better in the front.

Live on King Street schedule

June 24: Dark Star Orchestra
July 15: Lewis Del Mar July 29: Ra Ra Riot August 5: Horseshoes & Hand Grenades
August 12: Rod Tuffcurls & The Bench Press September 16: The Kills