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Is Columbia, SC Becoming a Major Entertainment Market Again?

(On May 13, Alice Cooper will be performing in Columbia, SC for the first time since 1978)

With hip hop sensation J Cole announcing that he's opening his upcoming tour at Columbia’s Music Farm, a lot of attention is being brought to the area. It got me thinking, is Columbia, SC becoming a major entertainment market again?  While it won't rival our neighbors in Charlotte and Atlanta, we may no longer be considered a dead zone in national artist’s eyes. 


I've noticed lately that a lot more national acts are coming to Columbia and surrounding areas. In the past decade or so, it seems that we'd get maybe a handful of marquee names coming through. Now, we're getting big artists of all genres and sizes visiting our famously hot city. 


In addition to J Cole, we're getting acts as varied as Drive-By Truckers, Jerry Seinfeld, Earth Wind and Fire, Ron White, Rick Springfield, R Kelly, Newsboys, Chicago, Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Chainsmokers, Ryan Adams, Local H and even Alice Cooper’s first time in town since 1978. Whether it’s your style or not, these are all big name artists who are coming to the area within the next few months.  What's interesting is that the shows are taking place all over town and in nearby cities like Florence and Newberry. It's not just one venue. It's Colonial Life Arena, Music Farm, Township Auditorium, Koger Center, New Brookland Tavern and more. 


Within the last year or so, we've also seen acts like Jason Isbell, Luke Bryan, Katt Williams, Weird Al Yankovic, Pearl Jam, Dave Chappelle and more. It's interesting to see this sudden uptick in nationally known artists. Back in the 80’s/90’s, it seemed like there were big shows every month. Around the turn of the Millennium, these seemed to only trickle in. You'd get a huge name every 6 months or so. Now, we're getting huge names as well as some of the mid tier acts that always seemed to skip us. What's caused this change?


"Weird Al" played in Columbia on September 7, 2016


I wish I knew. The opening of the Music Farm has definitely helped. It's given us a place to host those large club shows. The Koger Center booking more shows has also played a role. Part of the reason has to also be that now the Colonial Life Arena is a Ticketmaster venue. In years past, they've used alternate ticketing services.


If you're looking for a definitive reason, you'd have to ask an expert. That ain't me!  I'm simply pointing out how things appear to a casual observer with no inside information. The immediate future of the Columbia market for big name acts is looking bright. Let’s hope the scene can support it.  


Speaking of the scene, in addition to major artists coming to town, we also still have a strong showing of local talent thriving here.  Night after night, clubs like New Brookland Tavern and the Art Bar showcase some of the best that this city has to offer.  A strong local presence at shows can only help to attract the larger acts to visit Columbia.  No matter what taste you have, it appears that there is something to satiate your thirst for great music right here at home.  Make sure to support live music in Columbia.  Whether it’s local or national, supporting the entertainment scene here is the only way to keep it growing.  It’s up to us.




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