They've Got the Beat: Miami's 10 Best Live Music Venues



Fans of live music have nothing to complain about when it comes to finding great venues in the Magic City. Miami has become a powerful force in the live music scene, with a myriad of bars, lounges and night clubs offering everything from acoustic folk to EDM to underground hip-hop and jazz. 10Best knows that attending a concert or show is often best at small, intimate venues. Places like South Beach's Jazid and Midtown's Bardot resonate with music lovers due to their ability to draw in unique talent while offering a cozy but still in-your-face experience. For those who favor a little Latin flavor, it's hard to top the world-famous Mango's Tropical Cafe on Ocean Drive and Hoy Como Ayer, whose salsa and funk nights draw in crowds to their Calle Ocho location. Grand Central's calendar reads like a who's who of the best in indie rock, indie pop and electronica, as well as the occasional metal, hardcore and hip hop acts. But if spoken word, rap and hip hop beats are what draw you in, few places compare to The Stage. And how about those who can't get enough blues, jazz and folk? The still relatively new Railroad Blues is just the place for them. 



10
Wynwood


 

Live music, album/CD release parties, DJ bashes and other activities of a musical nature await at this hip Wynwood lounge. Bardot fills a void in Miami culture by providing the venue and the menu, which includes funk, electronic, blues, singer-songwriter and more. Cocktails--at $12, less expensive than most South Beach bars and lounges (that means affordable by Miami standards) range from the signature Honey Mule (Russian Standard Vodka, Honey Syrup, Pressed Lime & Hand Crafted Ginger Served in our Signature Copper Mug) to the Skinny Jeans Margarita (Corzo Silver Tequila, Cointreau, Organic Blue Agave & Fresh Lime Juice) to the simple Brown Sugar Mojito (Bacardi dark, Brown Sugar). Top-shelf liquors abound. Overall, even if you're not into the vibe of a particular musical guest, the experience at Bardot has come to define Miami's Wynwood and Design District nightlife.


9
Wynwood
The Stage


 

If you had never been to Miami before, and didn't know anyone in the area, you would probably never know this place exists. It's tucked away neatly in an alley underneath Interstate-195. Don't let the location spook you. Walk through the sketchy alleyway, it's worth it...we promise. You'll know it when you see it from the line spilling out the door; you'll know it when you hear it from the beckoning call of live music. This former warehouse space has been decked out with local art, ornate chandeliers, and a gorgeous mahogany bar that's manned by gorgeous bartenders. Outside, through a large, always open roll-up door is an astroturf-lined patio with chaises and canopies strung with lanterns. Inside, a small stage is flanked by sofas and casual lounge seating, and is fronted by a dance floor sized for intimacy. Live music is here every night, and it's always fantastic.


8
Casa Panza


 

Little Havana is crowded with great ethnic eateries, and this Spanish favorite is one of the best. The authentic décor, including colorful paintings, Spanish singers and flamenco dancing, transports you to foreign shores. The taverna-style ambience is backed up by traditional Spanish cuisine, including great tapas (try the fine manchego cheese and the garlic-sautéed shrimp), tasty paella and a broad range of filling tortillas. The well-stocked wine cellar offers the best vintages Spain has to offer. Between their fun Flamenco shows in La Cueva and the nightclub cabaret performances in the Salon Rojo, you won't be short on entertainment with your meal at Casa Panza.


7
Jazid


 

Stride into this smooth, sultry bar dressed to kill. Order a classic drink in a highball glass and take in the smoky, atmospheric surroundings. Live music is a rarity in South Beach, but this popular outpost has earned a reputation for putting on great jazz shows, with styles ranging from classic to acid. If you aren't enjoying the experimental performances downstairs, you can always head upstairs to the tiny loft, where DJs spin dance and house. Impromptu celebrity performances are a tradition at this unpretentious, laid-back lounge. Be sure to the Brazilian jazz show the last Thursday of every month.


6


 

Right on the outskirts of Downtown Miami and a few blocks from the old Omni Mall lies a building that's been the foundation for hipsters long before Wynwood became Wynwood. NE 14th Street Here there is a brand new speakeasy, moonlighting as Railroad News during the day and showing its true colors at night as Railroad Blues. Railroad Blues is the type of place where you can order an Old Fashioned without feeling old fashioned. It's the type of place where the bartenders all wear suspenders and you won't get a dirty look for opting to wear a fedora. It's also the kind of place you'll hear fantastic live music in the blues and rock genres. Make it out to any of their weekly events, from Ladies Nights to Grateful Dead Saturdays and the seemingly-out-of-place-but-it-actually-totally-makes-sense Classic Hip-Hop Sundays.


5
Hoy Como Ayer


 

Small, cozy and the epicenter of Latin music in Miami, Hoy Como Ayer brings past and present together beautifully. Its name translates as "today as yesterday," and from the photos of legendary singers to Fuacata! (a weekly event that merges traditional tunes with electronic effects), the idea is at the club's forefront. The music's authenticity and high quality often provoke dancing from everyone in the audience, and big-name vocalists have been known to make surprise appearances. In addition, perfectly mixed mojitos fondly recall Cuba, and a brief menu of Latin foods maintains the pleasurable theme. It's the liveliest spot in Little Havana.


4


 

The original Ball & Chain opened in 1935, when Calle Ocho was simply known as the Tamiami Trail, through which farmers would send oranges and other crops east to the Downtown Miami area. It has survived decades of reinvention, calling itself at one time the Ball & Chain Tavern, and serving as a venue for legendary performers like Billie Holiday and Chet Baker. These days, the Ball & Chain is once again serving as a live music and dance venue, with a full bar, a fine drink menu, and tapas for when the mood strikes. While they're still just starting out, there's no doubt that larger acts will be hitting the stage here in no time.


3
Mango's Tropical Café


 

Experience the islands without leaving South Beach. You can't miss this place right on the water, where crowds bustle, music blares and tropical drinks are flowing. Enter the jungle-like atmosphere and you'll be amazed at the mural all over the building, which was painted by seven Haitian artists over a period of nine years. There's plenty of live music in the evenings; the cover varies according to the artist. Tasty Latin cuisine is served inside and outside, and there's a small dance floor. The spacious bi-level building accommodates big crowds, and the reggae and salsa music, along with scantily clad dancers, adds an exotic flair.


2


 

Grand Central is the club that embraces every culture and subculture in Miami and brings them together in a room to drink and dance and have a damn good time. The place itself is a large warehouse right on the outskirts of Downtown Miami; a big, bright box right off the railroad tracks that inspired its name. Grand Central is one of Miami's most popular music venues, and has featured artists and musicians across genres, including Diplo, Yann Tiersen, Aterciopelados, Phantagram, Crystal Castles, Big Boi, Nitzer Ebb, Peaches, Black Uhuru, A Flock of Seagulls, Cypress Hill, Napalm Death, Peter Murphy, The Breeders, Black Flag, and Mogwai. Between their main room and The Garrett upstairs, they host a variety of dance nights throughout the week, usually free or for a relatively small cover, making it a haven for everyone from college kids to aging hipsters.


1
Upper East Side


 

Going to Churchills is an experience unlike anything else in all of Miami. Often called the CBGB's of South Florida, it's the type of place where you'll listen to dance to local punk bands one minute, drink while watching the World Cup during another, and then smoke what you got in the back patio during a folk performance for another. Offering an extensive variety of "rock and other live bands" (and by this we mean anything and everything from metalcore, ska, reggae, thrash, indie rock, shoegaze, hardcore, etc.), this British-run pub is a long-term favorite of the local Indie crowd. It's a popular spot for local and national and even international acts--literally the first stage for the majority of Miami's music scene. Jazz and acoustic shows are also held weekly during the Miami Jazz Jam and Theatre de Underground open mic night.


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Meet Priscilla Blossom

Pris Blossom is a freelance writer and feminist mama with a love for travel, writing, music, film, craft beer, yoga, museums, cultural anthropology, and her awesome kid.

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