10 Best Live Music Venues in Phoenix

Whether you're a fan of blues, metal, or everything in between, Phoenix has a number of top-notch music venues where you can witness today's best performers do their magic on stage.

If you want to see some of the biggest names in pop, rock and hip hop, chances are you'll be heading to a show at the Comerica Theatre or the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix. Although slightly fraying at the edges, the Celebrity's theatre-in-the-round presentation (with no seat more than 70 feet from the revolving stage) always makes for an interesting show.

Fans of authentic blues and jazz will want to head straight to the Rhythm Room or Char's Has the Blues, two long-standing Phoenix institutions where legendary blues artists take the stage in the intimacy of these small, respected venues.

In downtown Phoenix, the Crescent Ballroom and Valley Bar have injected new life to the local downtown Phoenix live music scene. And the recent opening of The Van Buren is set to bring even bigger names to downtown. 

If a night of rock 'n roll is on your agenda, head to the Marquee Theatre in Tempe, where the music is always loud and the proximity to Arizona State University in Tempe keeps the crowds young. 

In a jazz mood? Head to the The Nash, Phoenix's only downtown jazz club, featuring an eclectic nightly line-up of local players and national luminaries.


This award-winning venue was recently voted the best place to see a national act in Phoenix by the Phoenix New Times. The indoor concert hall and arena seats about 5,500 people and is one of the busiest venues in the city, hosting music, dance and comedy acts, as well as professional boxing and wrestling events. The mid-sized arena was designed to fill the gap for performers who need a venue larger than a club, but smaller than a sports stadium. The size of Comerica Theatre, as well as its prime downtown Phoenix location, have made it the venue of choice for hundreds of national touring acts. The theatre boasts a state-of-the art music and sound systems and an innovative design that marries the classical theatre style with the sensibilities of a modern rock arena.

This venerable Phoenix live music venue has been entertaining audiences since 1963, when the Celebrity Theatre first opened its doors as a multi-use conference center. The unique theatre in the round stage quickly became a popular concert venue instead, hosting such legends as Frank Zappa and Marvin Gaye. Since then, hundreds of popular music, comedy and dance acts have graced the stage, including Jerry Seinfeld, Hootie and the Blowfish, Duran Duran and B.B. King. With a revolving stage and no seat more than 70 feet away from the stage, this is one of the Valley's most intimate and unique live music venues.

Char's Has the Blues

Char's (pronounced with an "sh," not a "ch") promises an unpretentious evening of good music in cozy environs. Most of the audience isn't more than a few steps from the stage, so the immediacy of the blues is right there in front of you. A varied audience checks out the tunes nightly, and many times, they hit the dance floor as the music moves them. Some basic food is available for munching, and a pool table offers a between-sets option. One of the city's best live-music venues. There is live music every single night of the week, making this one of the city's most active live music venues.


Begin with a cozy, no-frills venue, add in top blues and jazz acts from the area and around the country, and toss in fans of great tunes and lively performances, and you've got one of Phoenix's best-loved music venues. The Rhythm Room draws crowds regularly, and the place can get smoky at times, but for raw-edged, top-notch blues and more, the place can't be beat. In fact, if you're not hitting the dance floor before long, or at least tapping your toes, folks may begin to look warily at you. Just give yourself over. This is the Valley's top destination for live blues.

Valley Bar is rarity in Phoenix: a hip downtown bar that just happens to be located in a basement. Basements are uncommon in the southwest, so it's a treat to escape to the cool surroundings of a well-finished basement space - especially in the heat of summer. The bar is located in the heart of downtown Phoenix, just off Monroe and Central Avenue, and features lots of original woodwork and clean, hip decor. There is a game area with two Skeeball machines, vintage arcade video games, board games, along with a performance space, and separate lounge, The Rose Room. Come here for great hand-crafted cocktails, live music and game nights with friends.

The Rebel Lounge is a live music venue located in midtown Phoenix, in the former home of the legendary Mason Jar rock club. The club hosts an eclectic mix of up-and-coming musical acts, as well as well-established national touring acts. On any given night, expect to hear indie rock, dance, metal and hip hop. The venue has been updated with a new sound system, fixtures and better view of the stage than its previous incarnations. There is no assigned seating, with all shows general admission. Unlike the Scottsdale nightclub scene, there's no dress code, so wear your favorite band t-shirt and ripped jeans.

This popular Tempe venue is located on the north side of Tempe Town Lake and attracts a mostly young college crowd. The club features festival seating, with the back of the club approximately 80 feet away from the stage, so you're never too far from the action. The intimate venue plays host to a diverse roster of rock, pop, hip hop and indie artists. Alcoholic beverages are served with ID and smoking is permitted on the large outdoor patio. Good acoustics and an excellent location right by the Mill Avenue Bridge in Tempe make this one of the most popular live music venues in the city.

The Nash is Phoenix's only live music venue dedicated exclusively to jazz. Named after legendary Phoenix jazz drummer Lewis Nash, this intimate performance space hosts regular evening performances. On given night, you might hear everything from swing to experimental avant-garde jazz performances. The venue is owned and run by Jazz in AZ, a nonprofit organization with a mission to raise the profile of jazz music in Arizona. It looks like their mission is working, too, judging from the crowds of toe-tappers at this new and exciting new music venue. The Nash also hosts regular community events and educational programs. The venue has a BYOB policy, so you can bring your favorite wine and beer too.

The Van Buren is a 20,000-square-foot, 1,800 capacity concert venue located in downtown Phoenix. The Van Buren, along with its sister venue Crescent Ballroom, is helping to bring an increasingly diverse roster of nationally touring artists to downtown Phoenix. The venue is located in the former home of the Phoenix Motor Company dealership, and much of the building's vintage 1930s-era charm has been left intact. A large stage and mezzanine offers good vantage points from many points throughout the venue. Glittering chandeliers, exposed brick and a striking design work from Tucson-based artist and designer Gary Patch (who designed the venue's signature Sonoran Desert-themed murals) makes The Van Buren one of the most attractive live music venues in Arizona.

Part concert venue, bar, and gourmet kitchen, the Crescent Ballroom is one of downtown Phoenix's newest hot spots. The Crescent Lounge hosts free nightly music, while the ballroom sees some of the country's top touring acts perform on the intimate stage. This renovated warehouse-turned-music venue features hardwood floors, exposed brick and vaulted ceilings, all adding to the character of this unique nightlife destination. The Ballroom has become one of downtown Phoenix's most exciting music venues, drawing acclaimed national touring artists and providing a stage for local up-and-comers. Aside from the great food and music, the lounge at Crescent Ballroom is an excellent place to mingle with the downtown crowd.


Meet Patricia Escarcega

Patricia Escarcega works as a writer and editor in Phoenix.