Michigan Music Venues We Truly Miss


Image of a band performing in a club venue.

Concert image – Story and photo by Anne Erickson

We truly miss these incredible Michigan music venues, but at least we’ll always have the memories

They say all good things come to an end. Sadly, that even includes great music venues. There’s something special about a favorite music venue. It’s attached to so many different experiences and memories. “If these walls could talk,” right? In honor of some of the most beloved and lost musical spots in the Mitten, here are some Michigan music venues we truly miss.

I’ve actually been to many of the venues below, with the exception of Small Planet and Silverdome. I was a bit too young for those venues. But, I’ll never forget the many concerts I saw at The Palace of Auburn Hills, Orbit Room and, yes, Silver Dollar. In fact, one of my favorite concert memories happened at The Palace. I interviewed Billy Corgan and the Smashing Pumpkins at the venue in the 2000s, and Corgan was incredible kind to me. He even had me stay for the band’s soundcheck, which I was allowed to watch on the stage. It was as if the Pumpkins were serenading me. Definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I’ll never forget. But, here we go with five Michigan music venues we truly miss.

Small Planet in East Lansing

Anyone who lived in or around East Lansing in the 1980s and 1990s remembers the Small Planet. I was too young to step foot into the venue, and by the time I was 21, it had closed. But, I heard so many stories. Small Planet was a small venue in downtown East Lansing that was home to many budding Mid-Michigan rock bands bands. This was a hotspot of entertainment, especially during the grunge and alternative years. Seattle had its scene, and Lansing had its scene, as well. In addition to lost of great local talent, Small Planet also booked some national acts. Some of those acts, such as Weezer, would go on to become of the biggest rock bands of the 1990s. The venue closed in 2000.

The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills

The Palace of Auburn Hills is one of those venues that seemed to close before its time. The legendary arena venue opened in 1988 and was the home for the Detroit Pistons of the NBA. In addition, it was a legendary concert venue. When major tours came through Detroit, this was the venue they played. Just a few of the big names that performed at The Palace include U2, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Madonna, Prince, Bon Jovi, Creed, Taylor Swift, Coldplay, Radiohead, Van Halen, Grateful Dead and many more. The venue’s final event was the Taste of Auburn Hills on October 12, 2017. Couldn’t it have been a big rock show? Regardless, Detroit’s main indoor venue is now Little Caesars Arena, which is located in the heart of downtown Detroit. Little Caesars is also the new home of the Pistons.

The Orbit Room in Grand Rapids

On the west side of the state, The Orbit Room in Grand Rapids was an indoor music venue that was just big enough for some big acts, but certainly not the size of an arena-type show. The music venue, located off Lake Eastbrook Blvd. SE, was open for around 25 years and closed in 2018. The venue often welcomed modern rock acts that were breaking on the radio, including Chevelle, Disturbed, AFI, Nonpoint, Papa Roach, Testament, Slayer, Fear Factory and more.

The Silver Dollar in Lansing

The Silver Dollar had a loving nickname of “The Dirty Dollar,” and for good reason. The venue would have dance nights were people got down and dirty on the dance floor. But, the venue, located on the edge of East Lansing just going towards downtown off Michigan avenue, also booked a lot of great live music. In fact, the Dollar booked plenty of acts that went on to be huge, including Aerosmith, Alice in Chains, Bob Seger, ZZ Top, REO Speedwagon, Kansas and more. Unfortunately, Ingham County foreclosed the venue in 2006, due to unpaid property taxes. Then, the Dollar was torn down in 2009 to make way for some new apartments. Call it the end of an era.

The Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac

The Pontiac Silverdome was the place to see major acts in Detroit in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. The venue opened in 1975 and served as the home for the Detroit Lions of the NFL and, for a while, the Detroit Pistons. Some of the big acts that came through the Silverdome during its prime included Elvis Presley, Elton John, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Genesis and more. The Silverdome was condemned and demolished in 2017.

Anne Erickson
Posted by Anne Erickson | Alternative, Features, Music, Rock