Best Concert Venue - 2009
Though the Varsity Theater has only focused on music since 2005, the popular Dinkytown venue has been around for a whopping 94 years, operating as a theater until the 1980s, when it morphed into a concert hall. The new Varsity debuted four years ago with a Feist concert, wowing Twin Citians with its great sound, spacious main room, and sophisticated but easygoing character. The Varsity is the pin-up girl of music venues, with its lipstick-red decor and a sassy vintage style that shows off its curves. You'll rarely feel claustrophobic at a show here, though it's had its share of packed gigs—including a much-publicized Jayhawks reunion and a show featuring Ms. Beehive herself. "Amy Winehouse played the Varsity after drinking a bottle of Jack Daniels," says booking manager Erik Stromstad, "and was still able to finish the show without falling over." Perhaps the place just has that effect on people—it makes us want to be better music lovers and the musicians better alcoholics...uh, performers.