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After years of unforeseen setbacks, Thesis becomes the heart of Rochester’s music scene in 2022

For years, Rochester has lacked a heart for the music scene in town. This year, Thesis Beer Project became that heart for the city but still has many goals and aspirations to accomplish for 2023.

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Push and Turn, the December band residents for Thesis Beer Project, perform the final show of their residency on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022. From left to right: Tyler Kispert, Sothea Lam, Cameron Smith and Kyle Truex.
Theodore Tollefson / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — Opening a business in August 2019 looked to be a flourishing time, until six months later when the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic forced shutdowns across the world.

Thesis Beer Project, the newest of Rochester’s breweries, opened its doors just then with a mission to brew one-of-a-kind beers, and become a premiere venue for music in town.

After three years of trials and tribulations, Thesis finally reached the goals of the second part of that mission and became the heart of music venues in Rochester in 2022.

“It’s been amazing and a lot of fun,” said Adam Fredericksen, owner of Thesis. “The two years of COVID related stuff set us behind so much that really this is like the first year of business. We finally hit some of our sales goals, which we anticipated getting in our first year, and it's been cool to be able to book shows well in advance, actually be able to have those events, and have people show up.”

With no pandemic restrictions on businesses throughout 2022, Thesis had performances booked out on a sixth month basis in 2022 versus going month to month the previous two years.

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One of the unique features with Thesis compared to other music venues in town is its monthly music residencies. Finishing the 2022 residency for December was Push & Turn, a band that formed in Rochester.

Lead singer and guitarist for Push & Turn, Sothea Lam, said there are benefits to the residency at Thesis.

“We try to have fun with each of the different sets, play different genres each night so that the crowd that has heard us before knows we have versatility as musicians but it can still get new people hooked,” said Lam. “One of the nights we were here this month, there was a snowstorm and we didn’t expect a crowd at all, but a good number of people still showed up and made it all the more worthwhile.”

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Patrons gather early at Thesis Beer Project on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022, as the opening act for the brewery's residency sets up for the show.
Theodore Tollefson / Post Bulletin

While there is a loyal audience that comes to the majority of shows at Thesis, drawing in more people in a city of 120,000-plus people is still sometimes a challenge for Fredericksen.

“We've had some this past year where you bring in a big act from Minneapolis, and there's only 50 people in here. In a town of 120,000 people, that shouldn’t be the case," Fredericksen said. "What we need is for people that come in here and have a good time to tell five more people about it so that our networks will continue to grow and that when we get to the point of hopefully doing more ticketed shows, we can sell those out.”

Fredericksen acknowledged that the history of doing ticketed shows in Rochester comes with many challenges. Challenges that have led to the majority of venues in town — Forager, Taco Jed and North Star Bar and others — to always opt not to charge people at the door to listen to the music they are putting on.

Thesis will have a ticketed show in the new year on Friday, Jan. 27 for Them Coulee Boys with Clay Fulton and the Lost Forty. Tickets are on sale for $10 on Eventbrite and will be $15 at the door that night.

In addition to experimenting with ticketed shows, Fredericksen expects show bookings for Thesis to be more precise in the talent being brought in each week compared to the experimentation they had with shows in 2022.

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“We'll be bringing back bands that have done really well here in the past, as well as being very particular about who we bring down. Acts we know are going to bring in a nice crowd but that also fits within our budget. We might do just a little less music, but what we are going to do is going to be a level above in talent and show from what we did this past year,” said Fredericksen.

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Push & Turn perform their latest single, "Rise Up," to open their final residency show at Thesis Beer Project on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022, in Rochester.
Theodore Tollefson / Post Bulletin

Of course not all the show bookings are on Fredericksen and his employees at Thesis. Partnerships with other local businesses such as Treedome , My Town My Music and Carpet Booth Studios help to create a larger pool of talent to book for these performances. These partnerships are a large credit to the success of Thesis shows in 2022 and will continue into the brewery’s musical growth in 2023.

Reflecting on a year with few hiccups in the business, Fredericksen is grateful he fulfilled the goal of providing great music for a community that was lacking it when Thesis opened in August 2019.

“One major reason we decided to settle in Rochester was to provide more live music. When we set out to do this, we said we were gonna go all in and the dream was to become a hub for musicians and people that like music and to help grow the scene in any way we can," Fredericksen said. "And this year, it really feels like we achieved that, and it shows with the support we have seen.”


Thesis Beer Project

1929 Second St. SW, Rochester, MN 55902

507-206-3283

thesis.beer


Theodore Tollefson is a business reporter for the Post Bulletin. He is originally from Burnsville, Minn., and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a bachelor's degree in journalism in December 2020. Readers can reach Theodore at 507-281-7420 or ttollefson@postbulletin.com.
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