What is there to do in the evening?
Some evenings have scheduled events. Definitely plan to attend the graduate student reception. Most conference events end by around 9 pm, though, so you have plenty of time to get out and explore the city. Several legendary Providence bars and clubs are located downtown, in very easy walking distance from the conference hotel. Additionally there are often arts-related events (gallery nights, exhibit openings) in Providence. Ask the hotel concierge or check out the local Providence alternative weekly to see what is happening: http://thephoenix.com/Providence.
This is hardly and exhaustive list:
The Wild Colonial: a casual tavern regularly rated one of the city's best; located in one of Providence's 18th century buildings. 250 South Water Street
Lupo's: Live music (check the website: http://www.lupos.com/). 79 Washington Street
Local 121: a beautifully restored restaurant and bar; conversation with the locals encouraged! (Try the Rhode Island style clam chowder; different than Boston style!) 121 Washington Street
The Red Fez: cheap, hip restaurant and bar (try the macaroni and cheese). 49 Peck Street
You can read the entire list of FAQs here.