It looks like the city of Gainesville has found a use for that huge downtown parking deck after all — as a rooftop bar and concert venue.
After two new levels were added for a now-defunct “fourth side of the square” condominium project, that fresh, new top level will be used, at least this Friday, as a concert venue. And the first planned concert is set to be different than any other Main Street Gainesville has hosted.
“We’re not set in our ways,” said Kristen Redmon, Main Street manager. “There are things that are tried-and-true, but we want to expand our boundaries.”
The free Fall Equinox Concert, scheduled 7-11 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20, will take place under the moon and stars on the top level of the parking garage. The fifth and sixth levels will be closed, but the others will be open for parking. You can use the stairs or elevator to make your way to the action and views up top.
“The moon doesn't actually rise until 10:43, so we’re saying we’re going to party until the moon comes up,” Redmon said.
Even though Redmon has wanted to plan an event on the top of the parking deck for some time, this event came as a sort of surprise to her. As she was walking downtown one day, she heard music coming from somewhere. She followed the guitar chords ringing in her ears to the fifth floor of the downtown parking deck and saw Dylan Miller, an instructor at Let There Be Rock Schools in midtown, playing his guitar through an amplifier.
Redmon asked if he wanted a crowd and the collaboration began. Miller said he was enjoying learning Nick Drake’s album “Pink Moon” and Redmon felt that fit perfectly with this time of the year.
“(The album) is all about the moon,” Redmon said. “And I thought that was so cool … So we looked at this weekend and that being the Fall Equinox.”
Drake was an English musician, who, according to the official website of The Nick Drake Estate, released his penultimate album in 1972, calling it “a stripped-bare, 28-minute masterpiece, but, at the time, his worst-selling album.” Drake also released two other albums, “Five Leaves Left” and “Bryter Layter” before he died.
After learning about Drake’s “Pink Moon” album, Redmon knew it was too perfect of an event to pass up, so she leaned into the theme and created an event completely solar focused.
Throughout the night, you’ll hear local artists cover songs from artists like R.E.M., Snow Patrol, Norah Jones, Radiohead, The Coral and Coldplay. — artists that inspired Drake’s music. Miller will close out the night by playing songs from “Pink Moon.”
And while you’re enjoying the music and the views, you’ll have plenty of other things to do, too.
The music will be set up on the side of the parking deck with views of the square — don’t worry, you’ll still be able to make your way over there to look over ledge — and there will be telescopes set up on the midtown side. Redmon said you’ll be able to check out Saturn and its rings as well as Jupiter.
At the center of the top level, Main Street Gainesville will be selling Moon Pie sundaes, made with Bruster’s Real Ice Cream. Hopscotch will have equinox-inspired cocktails while ChopBLOCK will be slinging Blue Moon and a dessert to pair with it.
And if you’re really wanting to get into the theme, there will be rune card readings for sale — and for entertainment purposes only, Redmon insists.
“It will be decorated really cool with a tent you go inside and you get the whole vibe,” Redmon said. “It’s going to be really cool.”
Celestial Studios will be doing a live painting, too. So throughout the night, you can see the progress of the piece.
Redmon hopes to bring more events like this downtown, hoping to get new people to the square and show them what downtown Gainesville has to offer.
“It’s very niche,” Redmon said of the Fall Equinox Concert. “It’s different, and that’s what I really like about it. Hopefully … this being something diff really draws people out. I‘m thinking we’ll see a new crowd at this one. We’ll see some of the regulars, but I’m hoping we see some new faces, too.”