By: Chelsea Marquis, Staff writer
On the corner of Free and Center St, huge purple letters glow on the side of a grey building, spelling the name of the concert hall inside: Aura. Bricks line the bottom half of the building on the Center St. On the Free St side, large asymmetrical windows and contrasting colors gives the other half of the building a modern aesthetic. As a multipurpose music venue, the building housing Aura reflects the diversity of concerts and entertainment held there.
Formerly, the space was used as a jazz club until 1997, when three sisters bought the venue and opened Asylum. In 2017, Asylum was closed due to renovations and the name of the venue was changed to Aura. Mark Curdo became the general manager shortly after Aura opened in 2017. While closed, the venue expanded to double its former capacity, now accommodating 1,000 people.
Aura also received technological upgrades, improving their lighting and sound. “We’ve been told by many artists that this the best sounding venue they’ve ever played at”, said Curdo. Their current lighting and sound manager has toured with artists such as Demi Lovato and Ariana Grande. From those experiences, he does a superb job ensuring the best sound quality and light show possible, according to Curdo .
Inside Aura, there are many places to watch the show, and also areas to mingle.
Downstairs from the mainstage, there is the dance room. Since the building is acoustically designed, there is little noise interference between the different sections of the venue.This makes it possible to have a dance party downstairs while another event is being held upstairs. They hold dance parties there every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Other times, individuals or companies rent out the venue for private parties.
Taking the stairs up one floor leads to the balcony area, where there are plenty of theatre-style leather seats and standing room to watch the show from above. Next door is a bar owned by Aura, which functions as a sports bar that serves food. There are several bars within Aura as well, though no food is allowed inside the venue.
No two nights at Aura are the same. Variety is considered when choosing their line-ups night to night. One night they may have a tribute band, the next night someone might rent out the space for a dance party or business function, and the next night they have a big headliner. Curdo is mindful about what shows are playing, and makes sure to keep a wide variety of bands on stage so that Aura does not settle into one style of music. When bigger names are part of the lineup, he advocates for having local bands open the show for them to get more visibility.
Curdo has worked in the music industry for about 30 years in many capacities. He said giving local bands more opportunities to get their music out is something he is dedicated to. He believes having lesser-known bands on stage gives concert-goers an opportunity to discover something new while seeing their favorite headliners.
While explaining what his vision for Aura is, Curdo said, “Versatility. We’re a concert venue, event space, and sports bar. We’re never doing just one thing”.
See their current line up at https://auramaine.com/shows-tickets/