New music venue District 142 readies for opening in Wyandotte

Owners say to expect rock, country, tribute acts, and more

Mar 10, 2023 at 6:38 am
click to enlarge A long-abandoned Downriver building has become District 142, a new music venue. - Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo
A long-abandoned Downriver building has become District 142, a new music venue.

Metro Detroit’s newest music venue, District 142, is a flurry of activity as it prepares to open its doors. Its P.A. system was installed last week, and its new marque was just installed on Wednesday. On Thursday, workers were on hand well into the evening, loading beer and mopping floors as the venue preps for a VIP party Friday and its grand opening to the public on Saturday.

District 142 is owned by Julie Law and Joshua Cade, who decided to open their own venue after their experiences in hospitality and event production in Wyandotte. Law says the venue will focus on primarily rock and country acts, the latter of which she says is a bit of a gap in the metro Detroit market.

“Country is hot right now, and there’s really not a lot of country venues, so we really want to focus on that,” she says. “I produce a lot of festivals in the Downriver area. I know what my fanbase likes and wants. It just made sense.”

With a capacity of 700, District 142 is on par with Detroit’s Magic Stick, bigger than a spot like El Club (400) and smaller than Saint Andrew’s Hall (1,000). She says a venue of that size should fit nicely in the metro Detroit music scene.

That was a happy accident, she says.

“Well, honestly, it’s what the building capacity would allow, but then afterwards I found out that it is a sweet spot,” she says. “There’s a lot of smaller venues — which everybody loves because of the intimacy that it provides. There are a lot of 400 and below venues, and then you kind of jump to about 1,100 to 1,500 to even 2,000.”

Acts announced so far include nu metal band Saliva on Friday, March 24, metro Detroit rock acts Eva Under Fire and Kaleido on Saturday, April 1, country music artist Alex Williams on Thursday, April 20, Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad on Friday, May 12, New Country 93.1 Goose & Renee’s Secret Superstar Birthday Bash on Wednesday, June 14, and new wave band A Flock of Seagulls on Saturday, June 17, among others.

The first concert announced was the Eva Under Fire show. “They’re originally from the Downriver area,” Law says. “They have recently been signed by a label and have been on national tours and big festivals, so they really wanted to do something close to home. … It just made sense for that to be our first first concert we’d announce.” That show quickly sold out, Law says.

click to enlarge Eva Under Fire. - Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo
Eva Under Fire.

Another pillar of District 142’s programming is tribute acts, or cover bands. The venue opens to the public on Saturday with a show by The Four Horsemen, “the Album-Quality Metallica Tribute.”

“It’s a huge trend, bigger than I think many people know,” Law says of the phenomenon, adding, “That’s what people want. You don’t want to take away from the original bands, but the reality is, they might be too [expensive] to see, or maybe you just like the music and you want to come and see it in your own backyard.” Other tribute acts booked so far include Jump, America’s Van Halen Experience on Friday, April 7, “yacht rock” band Yachtley Crew on Wednesday, May 24, and Strangelove, a Depeche Mode tribute on Saturday, June 17 opening for A Flock of Seagulls.

The venue will also host non-music events, including a two-day St. Patrick’s Party and “Leprechaun Crawl” on Friday, March 17 and Saturday, March 18 and a vodka-tasting event called Vodka Social on Friday, April 28. It’s also available to book for weddings and other private events.

Law says the 15,000-square-foot building sat empty for 12 years when they acquired it.

“When we first took on this building, it was literally cinder blocks and a dirt floor,” she says. “There was no cement floor, no plumbing, sewer, electrical, heat, nothing. It was abandoned.”

She added, “I don't think there was anybody crazy enough to take it on.”

In its past, the building had been a nightclub, a beer hall, and even a feather bowling alley.

“It’s had a lot of entertainment history to it, and that’s kind of what drew us to it as well,” Law says.

Law says she was charmed by the building’s skylight, which is opened using a system of cranks and gears, and District 142 has leaned into an industrial architectural vibe. A mezzanine level was added, with a staircase built from repurposed wood from the rafters, as well as a “District 142” sign over the stage lit with Edison bulbs.

click to enlarge District 142 is owned by Julie Law and and Joshua Cade. - Joe Maroon
Joe Maroon
District 142 is owned by Julie Law and and Joshua Cade.

The layout wound up being perfect for what Law and Cade needed. “It was like it was meant to be a music venue,” she says. The venue has a relationship with live music production company Live Nation, which can also bring acts there if they need a room that size.

Law says District 142 will add to Wyandotte’s entertainment offerings.

“One thing about Wyandotte is that a lot of people don’t know about it,” she says. “They don’t understand that it’s kind of like the downtown of Downriver, if you will. It’s on the waterfront. There’s tons of bars and restaurants. And when you come here, it’s all free parking, which is also very unique.”

She adds, “You can come have dinner, come see live music, and afterwards, you can go to a local watering hole. I just think it’s a very unique, overlooked space, and that was part of the reason that we really wanted to put this here.”

Location Details

District 142

142 Maple St., Wyandotte Detroit

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