Waco, Baylor divided by differences in live tunes

Jack Ingram
Photos by Matt Hellman and Makenzie Mason

By James Herd


Despite Baylor’s place in Waco, there could not be a further distance between the two in terms of the live music scene.

Or so it seems.

Live venues on or near campus, such as Common Grounds, have begun to cater to the Baylor audience. According to Wes Butler, the live events coordinator at Common Grounds, the venue has begun its own crossing over between the two atmospheres of Baylor and Waco.

“I feel like we cross over more than most people in the area. We are trying to get in some country shows, because I think that there is a market at Baylor of students that would want to come to those shows that we haven’t really offered in the past,” Butler said. “That’s something that we’re trying to do to kind of blend those things, capitalize on the market that is here at Baylor, which is our target market just because of our geographic location.”

As for the identity that Common Grounds has created for itself in relation to the music scene, Butler said the venue tries to keep the type of performances by bands and musicians consistent.

Butler said Common Grounds tends to look out for its audience through their show selection, but only because he feels that every show should be worth the money that students spend to attend.

“We really try to guard ourself with things that we feel that we can put our full weight behind. We want you to know that it’s always going to be a good show. It’s always going to be worth your money,” Butler said.

Where off-campus music is concerned, Kieran O’Connor, manager of local country music venue Wild West, said he believes the separation between the two cultures is for the best. O’Connor said he believes the future will reveal similarities between the two scenes.

“I think in coming years we’ll probably see a little more crossover. However, I think there will still be two distinct genres playing and in all honesty, that’s a good thing,” O’Connor said. “That way, Baylor has their music and their genre, and they can bring in students in their crowd, and we can have the crossovers here or at other locations within Waco. That way it allows for us to focus on country.”

“The other thing you have to look at is the venue,” O’Connor said. “Common Grounds is a great venue for smaller bands, but when you look at bringing in some of the larger country music bands they’re not typically equipped to handle that kind of sound equipment that’s necessary.”

On-campus, Uproar Records does several things to promote the up-and-coming Baylor artists as they begin their professional music career. Uproar Concert Promotions, a newly formed division of Uproar Records, aims to promote large-scale concerts at larger venues, such as Waco Hall.

Areli Mendoza, assistant vice president of publicity for Uproar Records, said the group, along with Common Grounds, seeks to expose new musicians to the eye of Baylor students.

“I think Common Grounds has done a great job at bringing musicians to Baylor students,” Mendoza said.

James Lafayette, the owner of Legacy Cafe in downtown Waco, said he wants Legacy Cafe to be an avenue between the Baylor campus and downtown.

While Legacy Cafe hosts a variety of music, except for hip-hop, and often feature Baylor oriented bands such as Dreamboat, Lafayette said there needs to be a link between the two locations, rather than a separation.

O’Connor said the separation between the Waco and Baylor music scenes could be because of Baylor’s Baptist orientation.

Michael Gungor
Matthew Hellman | Lariat Photographer

“We tend to play a lot of Texas country music. It’s bar music. So you get a lot of the songs that come through, that you know country music tends to revolve around you know, drinking, partying, and a lot of things like that, some things that Baylor wouldn’t necessarily endorse,” O’Connor said.

Butler, however, said the reason Common Grounds often hosts Christian bands is due to the type of students at Baylor.

“We’re not bound by anything Baylor. So you know we’re not subsidized by Baylor in any way,” Butler said. “So we really have the freedom to do whatever we want. The reason that we have so many Christian shows is just because of the market here, and a lot of us that work here, we really like those artists anyway.”

Regardless, there are many opportunities both on campus and off campus for students and Wacoans to become apart of the live music scenes and to experience what Waco has to offer in terms of entertainment.

Such opportunities include the various concerts that Uproar Records has in venues such as Common Grounds or even Waco Hall through Uproar Concert Promotions.

Off-campus opportunities include the live shows that are held at locations such as Art Ambush, Wild West or Legacy Cafe, to name a few. Live music schedules can be found at each of the locations’ respective websites.