Sure, you can drink and dine every night of the week, and sometimes grabbing a bite and a cocktail is the point of a night out. But what about nightlife? Yeah, the chance to see great bands and musicians and having bragging rights to saying you saw them “when?”
Whether it’s legendary bands or up-and-comers, you’ll find something from nearly every genre and to suit every taste at one of these clubs:
Lots of great music shows happen here, and “some of the most consistently great touring bands and DJ nights”, but sometimes the most fun events are offbeat, like roller disco, mash-up clubs, life-size Tetris playoffs and epic rock-paper-scissors competitions.
The Paradise holds a place in history as the first venue that U2 ever performed in Stateside and has hosted some of rock’s legends (think AC/DC). Follow them on Twitter and FB for special promotions and giveaways. Tip: buy tickets early for buzz bands.
They don’t call Nashville Music City for nothin’. While you might think it’s merely country twang, you can check out great artists like Feist in this National Historic Landmark and “Mother Church of Country Music”. And remember, the roots of rock are bluegrass, folk, blues and early country music, and here’s where you’ll find the crossroads of those influences.
Arrive early and grab a stool on the balcony right above the stage for a prime view. Tip: check streets around the venue for free parking, and beat the “expensive” parking lot.
Founded in 1939, Seattle’s beautiful art-deco gem now known as The Showbox at the Market has featured historically significant acts ranging from Duke Ellington and Muddy Waters to The Ramones and Pearl Jam, while recently hosting Snoop Dogg, Dave Matthews and Kanye West, to name a few. You’ll find three bars to slake your thirst and get you in the mood for the night’s performances.
At The Showbox SoDo, a converted warehouse opened in 2007, you’ll enjoy a larger concert venue with beautiful wood-beam and brick architecture, and incredible production capabilities and sightlines, along with an equally impressive roster of acts as its mothership.
A fan says it best: “The Quintessential concert venue in NorCal. Just go.” Pass through the doors (“get there early”) and check out the poster room upstairs, where you can soak up iconic counterculture and psychedelic ‘60s rock history: The Doors, The Grateful Dead, Santana, Miles Davis, and Aretha Franklin, to name a few. There’s a second bar up stairs underneath glowing chandeliers where you can take in the show and grab a bite. While the venue has “just the right amount of grit and class”, some feel the great acoustics and sound system deserve props.
Traditions endure at The Fillmore. Back in the day, founder Bill Graham often stood next to a huge bin of fresh apples at the front exit saying goodnight to patrons and handing out apples, and you can still get one today.
With a capacity of 500+, it is “intimate yet big enough to allow small acts to feel like they’ve finally made it, mid-tier bands to perform comfortably, and bigger groups to play in a smaller setting.” While some veteran show-goers bemoan the lack of seating, two bars is a plus. Hot tip: to get to a spot at the front by the stage, wait on line by the women’s bathroom.
Made famous by Prince and his film “Purple Rain”, First Avenue endures. Still the preeminent place to see music in the Twin Cities, a renovation has opened up sightlines and the acoustics are great, while still making the room feel intimate. Tip: If you want to avoid the lead singer’s sweat, grab a perch upstairs, where there are “plenty of spaces along the banister”.
Another place to rock out on the Lower East Side, Pianos has great DJs and notable up and coming bands and some intriguing artist residencies. Good food and strong drinks keep the crowd happy. Tip: best music and scene is mid-week.
Originally born in Lubbock in 1968, in the ‘70s, Stubb’s became known as much for being at the heart of an explosive music scene as for their ‘cue. Amongst the musicians who would “play for their supper” were Joe Ely, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Muddy Waters, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and John Lee Hooker. While it doesn’t get much better than hanging out in the backyard under the stars soaking up live music, the indoor stage downstairs is warm and intimate for a more low-key afternoon or evening. The concert billings offer something for everyone: local and regional acts celebrating an album release and national headliners like Social D and Big Head Todd and the Monsters make a point of stopping at Stubb’s.