Crucible aims to fill a dark void in Madison nightlife

The long-awaited east side club and venue will open its doors on New Year’s Eve.

The long-awaited east side club and venue will open its doors on New Year’s Eve. (Above: Crucible co-founder Jason Socha in the venue’s bar area. Photos by Emily Mills.)

At long last, it’s all finally happening for Gregory Kveberg and Jason Socha. The co-owners of Madison’s newest entry into the independent club/venue market, now called Crucible, are putting the finishing touches on the renovated, 325-capacity space and looking ahead to its grand opening on New Years Eve.

Located in a former trucking supply shop at 3116 Commercial Ave., in a stretch of the road that serves as a sort of frontage road to Highway 30, the idea started as a Facebook group called Project Sanctuary and is now tantalizingly close to completion. Crucible’s 22′ x 22′ stage is installed at one end of a large, open space where a (padded!) dancefloor is about to go in over the cement slab. Bathrooms are done and the walls painted. Accessible entrances to both the space and the stage are complete. A few final touches remain, but everything is on schedule for the launch.


“We just want to introduce the club to people, and people to the club,” Kveberg says of their hopes for opening night. The “friendly weirdos” behind what was initially called Project Sanctuary have been working diligently for the past three years to make the new venue a reality. Starting with a brainstorming session among former patrons of the now-defunct Inferno Nightclub, Kveberg and Socha took on the arduous task of bringing an actual club to fruition based on some of those ideas and a keenly felt lack of nightlife options for less mainstream segments of the community. Inferno spent nearly 20 years catering to fans of electronic and especially industrial music, hosting fetish nights, and cultivating an eclectic but unmistakably goth-y crowd. Its closing in 2015 left patrons without many options.

Gregory Kveberg surveys Crucible’s dancefloor area, amid renovations.

Gregory Kveberg surveys Crucible’s dancefloor area, amid renovations.

The grand opening, organized by DJ psych0tron, will feature a range of familiar faces on the decks, including Whiterabbit, Eurotic, Siberia, ellafine, Ryan Parks, Senseless, Mindphaser. Performances by Lilly Violet, Lady Harlequin, Sonnet Sin, Arrow, Petra Morgan, and Sophie Shapeless will round out the entertainment for the evening.

Reserved tickets for the event sold out almost immediately (after an initial, PayPal-related snafu forced organizers to re-do the pre-sale entirely), but a number of $10 tickets will be available at the door as well.

A tour of the space in early December revealed a lot of potential. Kveberg and Socha have already booked out into February and March, including DJs from house to industrial, live touring acts (including, thanks to local musical gadabout Matt Fanale, an in-the-works tour stop by industrial rock band Powerman 5000, of the ’90s hit “When Worlds Collide”), burlesque, costume parties, drag, and more. They’re also looking for “weird theater” productions and other offbeat entertainment to round out the offerings.

Inside the large warehouse space, a 34′ brushed metal bar features prominently in the front room, where bar manager Vic Eckstein (formerly of Connections, Club Voodoo, and the Locker Room) will curate a rotating selection of 10 taps and a total of 30-plus craft and domestic beer offerings. There are plans to offer absinthe with the full, traditional preparation, up to and including creation of a special “absinthe room” in which to meet the green fairy.

Eckstein talks up the creation of several original cocktails, with the actual drink menu still to be announced, as well as a comprehensive list of the classics. “The Lemmy is very important and will be featured, too, of course,” he adds, in reference to the whiskey and Coke favored by the deceased frontman of Motörhead.

There’s plenty of space behind the stage for load-in and storage, as well as a dedicated green room for performers. Behind that, a large, un-renovated portion of the warehouse will offer a surfeit of storage (due to permit restrictions, they’re not allowed to use it for events). That will come in handy given the use of modular stage and floor setup options that will allow Crucible to accommodate different performance and ambiance needs.

One of the more unique events already scheduled to take advantage of Crucible’s versatile space is the annual community iron pour by FeLion Studios. Every last Saturday will feature a burlesque show, curated by local burlesque instructor/performer Ariel LeBron. House music will have its own night on a monthly basis, presented by DJ Millbot (full disclosure: that’s the author of this piece). Kveberg himself has reserved the third Saturday of each month for a specially themed costume party.

“It’s very difficult to get a project like this rolling,” Kveberg notes. City permitting rules are not set up to be particularly easy to navigate or fulfill, and the space itself required quite a bit of updating. The silver lining, Kveberg adds, is that every city staff person they worked with “did everything they could to do their jobs well and help us along the way.”

Now all that remains is for people to walk through Crucible’s doors, and see what resulting new community emerges.

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