Pabst Theater Group Introduces New 450-Seat Venue, to Be Named Vivarium

Name and Plans Revealed for New Venue Opening Early 2024 on Milwaukee’s East Side

Milwaukee, Wis – Pabst Theater Group announced Vivarium as the name of its new all-ages entertainment venue opening in early 2024 on Milwaukee’s East Side at 1818 N. Farwell Avenue.

The 450-seat Vivarium will be a unique club featuring dialed in sound, great sightlines, natural cream city brick, wood walls made from 100-year-old trees from Northern Wisconsin, skylights open to the Milwaukee night sky and a natural feeling main room filled with live greenery. It replaces the nearby Back Room @ Colectivo, which will close at the end of this year.

“Vivarium is a Latin word literally meaning ‘place of life,’ and that is exactly what we intend to create with this new venue,’ said Gary Witt, president & CEO of Pabst Theater Group.

“In the nearly eight years since we’ve opened The Back Room, we’ve discovered how much it has added to and helped grow the Milwaukee club scene. Its all-ages experience helped to open doors for many younger bands and their fans, giving them a place to gather and to share their passions. Vivarium will be a continuation of The Back Room’s efforts, working to compliment an already thriving small venue ecosystem that includes Cactus Club, Shank Hall, Linneman’s, X-Ray Arcade, the Cooperage (and others) by creating more space for the Milwaukee community to gather and artists (local and national) to perform.”

“It will be a living, breathing space, filled with plants and creative energy—encapsulating the vibrancy of Milwaukee’s East Side. Live music venues will continue to lead the way in making Milwaukee a great place for developers to build hotels and apartments, companies to relocate and for people to choose to live here.”

Architecture and urban design firm Kubala Washatko Architects (TWKA) is working with the Pabst Theater Group to redesign the space and create an environment that builds community, both inside and out.

“We want to transform the space so that it looks and feels unlike anything else, a club setting that completely defies expectations,” said Chris Socha, partner, TWKA. “The experience will reveal itself in layers starting with an enhanced pedestrian space that brings positive energy to the public realm. Upon entry, guests will be immersed in a truly living space, where an industrial aesthetic of brick and steel meets the lush serenity of real plants and greenery.”

Additional enhancements will include a blade sign featuring the venue name on the building’s facade, an on-street parklet for bicycle parking and back-of-house amenities for traveling performers, including a secure load-in space, laundering area and green rooms.

General Contractor Findorff has been selected as builder and partner for Vivarium. Construction work began in the space earlier this week. “We are thrilled to be partnering with Pabst Theater Group and TKWA on this new venue on Milwaukee’s East Side,” said Matt Schroeder, senior project manager with Findorff. “Having the opportunity to bring the group’s vision to life, for both the local club scene and the surrounding community, is equally unique and exciting. It is also a great opportunity to showcase the talents of our Milwaukee tradespeople in building a beautiful venue!”

District 3 Alderman Jonathan Brostoff added, “This venue is a big win for the 3rd District. Not only is this a great additional asset to Milwaukee’s thriving music scene, but this will also be a safe space where our youth can hang out and socialize.”

Kelsey Kaufmann, owner of Cactus Club, also commented on the positive contribution Vivarium will have on Milwaukee’s small club scene. “Congrats to our friends at Pabst Theater Group on opening Vivarium. We’ve needed a room of this size for a while,” Kaufmann noted. “We’re building a culture of camaraderie in Milwaukee across venues, genres and artistic disciplines. The Cactus team is excited to collaborate with Pabst Theater Group on shows and events in the years ahead.”

Vivarium is a testament to Pabst Theater Group’s tireless 20+ year commitment to help nurture and grow Milwaukee’s music scene and overall economy by providing spaces that support artist growth and offer exceptional customer experience. It proudly joins a creative and vital community of independent venues and promoters, helping to secure Milwaukee’s status as a nationally appreciated destination for live entertainment.

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A look inside the future home of Pabst Theater Group’s upcoming East Side concert venue

Pabst Theater Group opening new East Side venue, leaving Back Room @ Colectivo