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Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

New location, same vibe for Downtown Live!

Friday concert series gets started on June 2 at Porch Off Calhoun

Downtown Live! has moved from The Landing to the Porch Off Calhoun.

Published May 24, 2023

Form follows function — that’s what they say. 

If “they” were considering urban planning, I wonder if “they” could conceive of anything more functional than an alley. Its mission is purely utilitarian: A place for the grimy necessities of city life, garbage pickup, utility access, and fire doors. An alley might carry a little vehicle traffic, but it doesn’t encourage it. 

It’s not a place for art or celebration or fellowship. “They” would be hard pressed to find much form to care about.

But Downtown Fort Wayne has been turning that notion upside down.  

By executing on its 2019 Public Realm Action Plan, dingy urban canyons have become lively destination spots for content creators, music video producers, weekend revelers, and even a feature film shoot. Gray walls have been transformed by bright murals. Works by noted international artists sit next to public art from a myriad of local professional and collegiate talents. 

And in the summer, the picnic benches return to The Tricore Porch Off Calhoun. (It’s right next to 816 Pint & Slice.)

Music comes alive

This year, The Porch will see more than just picnic tables full of happy office workers enjoying an afternoon’s libations. This year Downtown Live!, which was formerly held on The Landing, will be hanging out in the alley. And the street. And the sidewalk. Because this isn’t just going to be a DJ spinning platters. (Do DJs still spin platters? Probably not.) 

This year, you’ll get live music on 14 Friday nights between June 2 and Sept. 1. That’s right, all of them!

And not just live music. Really good live music. 

Downtown Fort Wayne has assembled a lineup of stellar local musicians, offering folks in the area a full dose of the quality and variety the city’s music scene has to offer. 

They’re bands you might want to see, but can’t stay up late for, like The Be Colony or Whoa, Man! Performers you know are going to bring a great show, like Alicia Pyle & The Locals. And you do not want to miss Sunset Música. Those music snobs you know who always see the best bands and brag about them? They are going to a lot of these shows.

Foot traffic

This event is too big to contain in The Tricore Porch, though. 

Every Friday night this summer, the section of Calhoun Street between Berry and the alley, right in front of Fortezza Coffee and The Dash-In, will be closed to traffic from 4-9 p.m. Which means it will be open for foot traffic.  Also lawn chair traffic. The music will be set up in the corner, so there’s plenty of room to enjoy the show from the street or the alley.

But if they cut off the vehicle traffic, you’ll have no place to park, right? Well, no. Downtown Fort Wayne is way ahead of you. 

The section of Calhoun that remains open will bring traffic directly to the parking garage on Calhoun with tons of easy off-street parking.  There is a fee for parking there, but it’s a pittance compared to big-city parking. And it’s only steps away from the fun and easy to get to. If you’ve mastered the art of parallel parking, you can probably also find street parking, and it’s free after 5 p.m.

Here’s one of the real keys to this location: Tall buildings. Well … tall-for-Fort-Wayne buildings. Tall buildings bring along that sweet, sweet shade that we all look for on a Friday evening in July. Rumor has it that shade keeps beer cold longer, too. That won’t really be a problem though, because Pint & Slice and Dash-In will be taking turns serving adults cold beer from the alley. 

Plenty to enjoy

If you’re wondering how they can keep track of who has paid to get in and who hasn’t, here’s some exciting news for you: These shows are free. 

Now consider this idea when thinking of your fun budget … a free concert in a block party atmosphere with cheap beer means maybe instead of paying for concert tickets in Indianapolis (and Indy parking rates) and driving four hours back and forth, you could do a weekend getaway closer by with a nice dinner, downtown hotel, and trendy brunch downtown on a Saturday morning. Follow that up with a stroll along the Parkview Tree Canopy Trail, and you’ve got a nice little getaway without breaking the bank.

If you’ve heard about the downtown alley scene and haven’t had a reason to check it out, here’s your invitation. 

Treat yourself to the amazing pizza at Big Apple. Try Scotch eggs for the first time at JK O’Donnell’s. Get a selfie by a mural, but you might want to wait to post it, because there might be an even better background around the next corner. You’ve got all summer to explore.

When you’re there at the right time, just as the sun is going down with that golden hour light, and you look up from the alley past the psychedelic fish on the Pint & Slice wall, up to that weird green art deco structure on top of the Murphy Building glowing like Gatsby’s light … you’ll understand. 

You’ll understand why Downtown Fort Wayne is showcasing its most functional asset. Because it’s local. It’s community. It’s art. It’s music. And it’s fun. Fourteen Fridays’ worth.


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