The term “Silent Disco” seems more like an oxymoron than the latest entertainment craze. Yet crowds have been jamming the Silent Disco tent at several festivals in the area ever since Porterhouse Productions introduced the concept to the region a couple of years ago at the Traverse City Microbrew & Music Festival.
“The experience is a riot as you walk in and everyone is laughing and signing (off key) and dancing to a popular dance song but there is no music,” said Sam Porter of Porterhouse Production. “Then once you put your headset on it is impossible to not dance and laugh and sing along. This has been an extremely popular addition to all of our festivals.”
This Friday night, March 9, Porterhouse Productions will host two Silent Disco events to benefit Youth Union. The first will be an all ages/teens event from 6 pm to 9:30 pm.
The second starts at 10 pm and will be for 21 & over only with both events featuring DJ Dominate spinning the tunes and Wulf Pak putting on the laser light show. Tickets are $10 and includes free pizza and Northwoods Root Beer for the early show and some adult beverages for the 21 & over show. Both events are taking place at The Good Work Collective on Union Street.
Porter launched Porterhouse Productions when he was a mere youth himself. He was asked to serve as President of media mogul Ted Turner’s (CNN) Bozeman Youth Initiative in Bozeman, Montana, where Porter oversaw hundreds of youth led events. He has now incorporated that same concept here in Northern Michigan.
“Youth Union (YU) is a group of high school students who meet at the Good Work Collective Art Gallery on Tuesdays between 4 and 6 p.m. It is a grassroots gathering called ‘Hang’ where they start with Northwoods Root Beer, then talk about organizing youth led events, art shows, open mics and other concepts,” said Porter.
“Sometimes they just quit talking and break out a beatbox jam then just hang. They also hold meetings called ‘Sessions’ where local mentors and leaders will hold hour long workshops teaching youth their trade.”
Sam along with his wife Abby led the first few sessions and are sponsoring the venue, root beer and hang resources. Porter is quick to point out that YU is youth driven and led.
“While we offer some guidance, this group and their direction is in their hands,” said Porter. “When these high schoolers are empowered to be in charge of their events they organize shows, concerts, art events and other things that are of interest to them. They are also learning how to promote shows, be organizers. They are learning the importance of being responsible and following through with commitments.”
Porter heard about the Silent Disco concept from some fellow promoters and now has partnered with Silent Events, the company who brought the concept to America from Europe.
“We are representing Silent Disco throughout the midwest,” said Porter. “Since it is new, some people are having a hard time grasping the concept, but it has been a hit every time we have used it. This is a perfect fundraiser and is fun for people of all ages.
“You could have a Silent Disco every weekend in Northern Michigan and people would come out to it. I have been talking to some of the other festivals around Northern Michigan and they are looking at it as well. It works at school dances and proms even.”
The next night, headphones will be unnecessary. Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellys with special guest Song of the Lakes will perform on Saturday night. The double bill starts at 8 p.m. with doors opening at 7:30. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.
Lansing-based Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellys formed a couple of years after a chance meeting between guitarist and vocalist Lindsay Lou Rilko and mandolin player Joshua Rilko.
“We met at an open mic night and hit it off,” said Lindsay Lou. “Not only did I join his band, we got married.”
The other Flatbellys are Spencer Cain on bass, Keith Billik on banjo and Mark Lavengood on the dobro. The band’s roots in bluegrass were deep, and Lindsay, who grew up with both a classical and pop music background, was quickly converted.
The group focuses on the original tunes of Lindsay Lou, which include true-life tales of bank-robbing aunties, moonshinin’ grandpas, and celebrations of love, life, and nature. Don’t be surprised to hear bluegrass standards, Beatles hits, and contemporary classics at a Flatbelly’s show as well.
Their good friends Song of the Lakes have agreed to open. Both groups are purveyors of America’s “fresh coast” sound with tight harmonies and creative arrangements, all essential characteristics of their unique sound.
“They have been big supporters of Song of the Lakes over the years and we wanted to repay the favor of all their support,” said Michael Sullivan, Song of the Lakes bandleader.
“It is an honor to open for them. They are a talented bunch and this is going to be a great night of music.”
Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door but seating is limited and this double bill is expected to sell out. All funds gathered support the musicians, The Good Work Collective and SPACE. For more information on the Silent Disco/ Youth Union event on Friday night or the Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellys along with Song of the Lakes show on Saturday night at The Good Work Collective on Union Street, check out porterhouseproductions.com. Call 231.499.4968 for tickets or to get information on how your festival or organization can host a Silent Disco event.