by Derek Kreider

From the middle of a residential neighborhood, the Dome blooms like some weird mushroom. The former strip club turned music venue is slowly but surely carving out a place all its own in the Northeast Ohio music scene.

Located at 166 Currie Hall Parkway in Kent, the Dome has been having shows since the summer. A full calendar of events has propelled them forward: The venue hosted 14 events in September and 17 in October. Every Monday is open mic night. Every Wednesday is LGBTQ night, coordinated by Cassandra Harner, who runs Drag News Ohio. The Dome has welcomed monthly burlesque shows, comedy nights and even a seance, which took place a little more than a week before Halloween.

All manner of musical acts have played at the Dome. Doom metal, horror punk, acoustic, indie and hip-hop acts are all mentioned in a quick perusal of their past events archived on Facebook. 

A schedule like that can be hard to keep up for long. 

“When I first took the job, I was that foolish, gung-ho person that’s like, ‘We’re gonna have a show every weekend and then some,’ and we did. Which was cool, but it’s hard to manage,” says Brooke Forrest, one of the people responsible for booking. “After talking to the other bookers and the bands themselves, I think I’d rather focus on every show more.” 

So far, things have been hit or miss in terms of attendance, but even the sparsely populated events have a positive result. “One of my first shows was really kind of a very slow one, a little dead, and one of the acts met another person that was in the audience and they’ve been dating since,” Brooke says. 

“I wanted to foster some sort of community and helpfulness to the music and arts scene in Kent and the surrounding areas because I care about them,” she says. “It’s a diamond in the rough, but it can be a place for people who are looking for somewhere to go, somewhere to show their art, to show off their talent.”

Indeed. While Akron’s slew of house venues is perfect for these kinds of diverse events, Kent has recently been inhospitable to house shows. House venues are often shut down as fast as they can be established there. Noise complaints and the overzealous response of the local constabulary do not make for a welcoming atmosphere for DIY shows. 

The name isn’t just a name, either. The Dome is an actual geodesic dome, making it unique from other bars and concert venues in Kent. Standing inside is like standing inside some demented planetarium. Compounding the appeal is the occasional presence of the sadly defunct Stone Tavern’s sonic wizard David R. Kiss running the sound board.

The Dome shows no sign of slowing down. “There’s continually things on our calendar. It’s always a little bit all over the place, in a wonderful way,” Brooke says. 

If things continue along as they have, the Dome will soon have a reputation as a reliable stronghold for independent music in Kent that they’re working hard to obtain. 

Follow The Dome on Instagram at @thedomekent and on Facebook at facebook.com/TheDomeInKent.

Derek Kreider is a freelance writer and sort-of musician hailing from parts unknown.

Photos used with permission from Brooke Forrest.

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