« Terry Stevens' Point

The Real Reason That Band Played in Wausau

by Terry Stevens

You and I need to start having a different conversation about Wausau, and Central Wisconsin in general.

I've had three conversations in the past three days that went something like this:

"Wow, [BAND] played a gig in Wausau?  They must be on their way down."

Or, "WTF is [BAND] doing in Wausau?  This place sucks."

That sort of conversation drives me nuts, because the reality is the complete opposite of that statement.  Let's look at a quick example:  Pop Evil.

PHOTO CREDIT:  Rock 94.7 
The above pic is from when Pop Evil played at the now defunct Bruiser's in Schofield.  It was a cold January night in 2012, and this band with no small amount of radio hits was playing a gig in Schofield, Wisconsin.  In WINTER! 

Later that year, the very same band hit the stage at Wisconsin Valley Fair:

As you can see in the pic, the weather was a bit nicer than their winter gig.  
PHOTO CREDIT:  Rock 94.7
The next time we saw Pop Evil, they had quite a few more radio hits under their belt, and they proceeded to play them in Summer of 2013 at one of the biggest stages in the state. Of course, we're talking Rock Fest:
Again, much nicer weather.
PHOTO CREDIT:  Rock 94.7 
Their stages keep getting bigger, and bigger and BIGGER! So, where did we see Pop Evil next? Wausau, Wisconsin:

PHOTO CREDIT:  Rock 94.7 

There they are.  A band with THE rock song of the summer/year when it comes to airplay ("Trenches"), and they're playing a gig at The Fillmor in Wausau.  Their latest album, "Onyx", will probably have a few more high-charting singles before they move on to the next one.

So, is Pop Evil on their way down?

Hell no!

Wausau, and Central Wisconsin is on its way UP!

Nonpoint.  Massive hits playing a club in Wausau.

Phillip Phillips (yes, it's pop, but bear with me) packs the house at UWSP.

Look at the crowd a Pink Floyd cover band can pack into Wausau's 400 Block!

Major league talent playing fairs every summer.

More artists adding Wausau and Central Wisconsin to their intinerary every day.

PHOTO CREDIT:  Dave Kallaway Photography 
One of my favorite movies of all time is "The Warriors ".  I'll go so far as to say it's one of the greatest films ever made.   One of the standout moments in the film is a speech by a character named Cyrus. Cyrus has a dream.  He want to combine all of the city's gang into one big gang and rule the streets.  Watch the speech.  It's glorious:

Allow me to rework the would be gang kingpin's speech for our little discussion here:

"Can you count, suckers? I say, the future is ours... if you can count!

Now, look what we have here before us. We got Wausau sitting next to Stevens Point. We've got Marshfield right by Wisconsin Rapids. We've got Merrill, Schofield, Weston, Mosinee, Marathon City, Stratford, Edgar, Hatley, Plover, Whiting.

Nobody is wasting nobody. That... is a miracle. And miracles is the way things ought to be.

You're standing right now with dozens of towns, cities and villages. And there's over a hundred more. There's around 134,735 people in Marathon County, 70,443 in Portage County, and 74,424 in Wood County.  That's 279,602 people!  Add in the surrounding counties and we can go ahead and round up to 300,000 !

Can you dig it?


Can you dig it?


Caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu dig iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit?


Now, here's the sum total: individually, we're a bunch of small to medium sized towns, villages and cities.  But together, combining our populations, we're a city roughly the size of Pittsburgh, PA, Cincinnati, OH, or Saint Paul, MN!  

We sit right in the middle of the state, right on the way to Minneapolis/St. Paul, Green Bay, Madison and Milwaukee.  An artist can stop here on their way to the larger metros and enjoy a nice payday at the hands of 300,000 people.

Can you dig it?

Economically, we've had the paper mill shutdowns in the area.  Those have come at a steep cost.  No one can deny that.  But aside from that well publicized bad news, there are quite a few bright spots in this area.

A skilled worker with a degree from an area technical college can make a pretty good living in this market in manufacturing, health care, and I-T.

Can you dig it?

We have all four seasons, tourism in the Winter via Granite Peak and the rest of the year 'round due to outdoorsy stuff.

Our Schools are really awesome.  This is a great area in which to raise kids.

Can you dig it?

Central Wisconsin is growing, and while there are some growing pains, the growth has been largely productive.

Bands don't play here because they suck and can only play in places that suck.

Bands play here because this place is AWESOME!

Can you dig it?


Can you dig it?


Caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu dig iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit?"


Okay, you can stop yelling now.  Your neighbors are going to call the cops.

*In addition to thinking that The Warriors should be referred to with the same reverence that some people reserve for The Godfather"Scary" Terry Stevens is a radio host for Midwest CommunicationsYou can Book Face with him here.