Feature

Weirdos Welcome

The Galactic Theatre is Warren’s home for outsiders and rock and rollers

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Without fanfare, marketing campaigns, or any sort of desire for notoriety, Warren has become the home of all things mystical, weird, and underground in Rhode Island. Maintaining an impressive Main Street a mere block or two removed from the bay, Warren has an approachable, unpretentious, industrial charm, and it’s on this vibrant Main Street that David Podsnap (Sasquatch to the fans) has decided to expand his mecca to the fringe: The Galactic Theatre.

In the words of Podsnap, “You don’t find Warren. Warren finds you.’’

With its vintage horror movies projected on the wall, pinball machines, a vaudeville-meets-rockabilly-meets-classic tattoo-vibe, and a boutique cocktail bar, The Galactic Theatre has made itself the place to go for music in Warren. No trivia night, no football (gasp!) on Sundays, and no phonies, The Galactic Theatre has taken on the mission of making music a nightly occurrence, a part of the landscape and culture of the hardest working city by the bay.

“There’s so much history here, within the ground, the buildings, the waterfront, and the people. I have loved this town and the East Bay since the late ‘90s,” Podsnap says. “I always wondered if it’s where I’d end up after over a decade of touring the country as a musician.”

To the outside viewer, The Galactic Theatre and the current buzz it has been getting seems to have materialized out of nowhere, but for Podsnap and his wife, Victoria, The Galactic has been an absolute labor of love.

“My wife and I first opened a business here in 2014,” Podsnap recalls. “We persevered constant financial burdens while trying to maintain and thrive as a small vintage store in a cool yet sleepy town. Some folks didn’t want a bar and venue here; we had to prove to them and ourselves that we’d respect and maintain the cozy, small-town vibe… just a little busier and a little louder. With the amazing community of Warren, understanding landlords, friends, and an especially patient, supportive family, we happily suffered through the obstacles and the empty pocket times.”

On the occasions I have had the pleasure of attending shows at The Galactic Theatre, I have found it to be an incredibly welcoming place that makes anyone coming in feel like a regular at the bar. Part of it is the camaraderie that is apparent among the Main Street Warren business owners, who make themselves regulars in The Galactic and out in the community, and part of it is the culture that Podsnap and company have worked so hard to create.

The Galactic Theatre exists solely as a haven for music and art; this becomes clear for anyone who steps foot inside. Everyone is weird, everyone is valued, everyone is welcome.

“This is an extension of my inner spirit,” Podsnap muses. “I’m not trying to insult anyone when I say almost anyone could open a regular, predictable bar that serves a predictable menu with Top 40 Music poisoning everyone’s ears. However, it takes someone that’s the good kind of crazy, [who] harnesses a vision of yesteryear mixed with how the future could possibly be as a society. A place of peace and networking and artistic release. We don’t allow talk of sports, religion, or politics at The Galactic. This Lounge is an oasis to forget life’s everyday pains and absorb inspiration to get to a happier place each and every day. [A] real, organically curated community.”

The Galactic Theatre, in its current incarnation, has only been open for a short time, but in that short period, Podsnap and company have found themselves host to many notable musicians, both touring and local. “We have had so many great moments in a fairly short time,” Podsnap says. “Over 200 shows in 15 months now. Members of Dinosaur Jr, Dead Milkmen, Avett Brothers, Bloodshot Bill, Tropigals, Ladybird, The Wolff Sisters, comedy shows... Charlie Marie, Tyler James from the Silks, Hollow Turtle, Jodie Treloar, Mark Greenbaum, Ned Cronin, Zack Slik, Nate Cozzolino. Way too many to mention in one magazine article!”

It is this devotion to art that has resonated with musicians and artists, and it has added to the outsider art community that Warren has gotten some attention for.

Before The Galactic Theatre opened its current Main Street location, names such as Fort Foreclosure and The Collaborative were bringing intimate, serious attention to Warren’s artistic street credit. For Podsnap, the spirit of the art community inspired him to be an active pillar within it, offering a reliable refuge to draw artists in, both as performers and spectators.

For the moment, Podsnap finds himself in a position where he can step back and appreciate what he has brought to the community. As The Galactic Theatre continues to turn heads and bring in increasingly larger circles of artists, the ripple effects are beginning to be felt in the community. For Podsnap, this has become a remarkable time of realization.

“Sometimes I actually have a quick minute to look around the room at what we have all created; it’s friggin’ amazing and magical,” Podsnap says. “I really can’t put it into words. This place is another dimension filled with only great souls. To see people smile. To watch, hear, and feel the many performers’ creations being displayed to an almost brand new scene in the smallest town in the smallest state. To hear people say ‘Wow!’ That’s worth more than money or fame.”