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Often times, when people think about Boston, their minds jump to sports, higher education or history. It’s easy to understand, of course, given that Boston boasts some of the finest teams, institutions and landmarks in these fields, along with a whole lot more.
In addition to all else it has to offer, Boston is also an excellent place to hear live music! The city has a lively rock-and-roll history, with bands like Boston and Aerosmith emerging to international fame, as well as being home to the iconic Boston Symphony Orchestra and a number of venues that host regular performances.
Whatever your musical taste, these five music venues are always a good place to catch a show. Here’s a look at what they offer.
Photo: Live show at Great Scott via Facebook
Neighboring Boston University and Boston College in Allston “Rock City,” Great Scott is a local favorite for anyone looking for edgy rock music or indie bands. And with past shows from big names like MGMT, Hot Chip, and Of Montreal, it’s a great spot to discover up-and-coming bands.
A 240-person capacity and variety of themed dance nights, plus weekly comedy stand-up shows, make this spot is the perfect place to go if you want a smaller, more intimate venue to check out the next big thing. Plus, there’s no backstage, which means you can hang around after the show’s over and meet your favorite singer. Take a look at upcoming shows here.
Find Great Scott at 1222 Commonwealth Ave in Allston, MA (617-566-9014)
The jazz fanatic needs to look no further than Wally’s, a jazz club that has live music 365 days a year. Joseph Walcott, the first African American to own a nightclub in New England, opened this spot back in 1947, and it’s been a go-to for jazz enthusiasts since. A mix of professionals and students, mostly from Berklee, the Boston Conservatory and the New England Conservatory of Music, perform the music, and events like blues night on Mondays and Afro-Cuban jazz on Thursdays will keep you entertained throughout the week.
Wally’s Cafe also hosts an afternoon jam session every Saturday and Sunday from 5-8 p.m., for those of you who want to show off what you’ve got. With no cover charge, you can enjoy this music for free, any night of the week.
Visit Wally’s at 427 Massachusetts Avenue in Boston, MA (617-424-1408).
Boasting to have the “best variety in acts in Boston since 1987,” this homey JP joint is proud of its eclectic mix of shows and crowds. From rock music to blues, punk to R&B, you really can see it all. The “Pics/Vids” section of the website gives a good look back at previous shows, as well as a look around the premises.
The Midway Café is open until 2 a.m. each night, with upcoming shows featuring punk, hip-hop, soul and rock. Midway even books special events, benefits and screenings, too, so there’s always something new going on.
Check Midway out at 3496 Washington Street in Jamaica Plain, MA (617-524-9038).
Photo: Walter Noons performing at Midway Café via Facebook
There’s never a cover, and there’s always an abundance of live, local bands seven nights a week at Toad in Porter Square. A quintessential neighborhood bar, Toad is a good spot to go relax and enjoy shows in a close setting.
On Sundays from 3-8 p.m., you can bring your own vinyl and be the star DJ you’ve always dreamt you could be during their “Sunday Spins;” the Monday Blues Nights are always a good time, too. With delicious burgers and local beers on tap in the bar, it’s a good spot for a quick bite before the show, too.
Find Toad at 1912 Massachusetts Ave in Cambridge, MA (617-497-4950).
Photo: Rusty Belle at Club Passim by Steve Wollkind via Facebook
While many music venues have a unique history, Club Passim, a dual music venue and nonprofit arts organization tucked underground in Harvard Square, is truly something special. An alternative to the fist bumping, basement grunge scene of some music venues, Club Passim creates an interactive music experience through an emphasis on the relationship between performers and audiences.
Having hosted Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell and many other renowned artists, the singer-songwriter tradition lives on at Club Passim, with hundreds of shows each year showcasing styles ranging from acoustic to jazz and everywhere in between. Club Passim also has classes, workshops, and events that teach songwriting, as well as an educational outreach program throughout Greater Boston.
Find Club Passim at 47 Palmer St, Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA (617-492-7679).
That’s a wrap for us with a few of the many awesome spots in Boston to check out live music. To find more music spots and a whole range of other activities in Boston, click here.
What do you think? Do you have a favorite place to go for music? Let us know in the comments below!
Photo at the top: The Spurs perform at the Midway Café via Facebook