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Discover Tampa's Dynamic Music Scene at Top Local Venues



There’s nothing as powerful as a great live music experience and Tampa has many options for visitors looking to check out the local music scene. From a 20,000 seat outdoor amphitheater to four tables in a dive bar, 10 Best has got you covered with this list of venues.

A local landmark is Skipper’s Smokehouse. They feature national and local acts that play an eclectic assortment of music in their infamous outdoor concert area, the “Skipperdome.” Perhaps you’re more in the mood for a casual neighborhood bar that just happens to showcase local talent like Red Star Rock Bar, in trendy Seminole Heights.

You’ll find that many live music venues are clustered in the Ybor City area, but terrific places to hear live music can be found throughout Tampa such as Tampa’s version of CBGBs, the Brass Mug, that features heavy metal and rock bands and is located in north Tampa. If you are looking for more cultural offerings, Tampa hosts a symphony orchestra and opera company as well! Check out the Straz Center for Performing Arts. A world-class facility located in the heart of downtown.


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10
Orient Park
Hard Rock Cafe
Photo courtesy of Hard Rock Cafe


This version of the Hard Rock Cafe is located in Tampa's Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Featuring the famous Hard Rock experience, Tampa's edition delivers in spades with it's impressive entrance giving way to an expansive view of an elevated stage surrounded by table seating. Opposite the stage is a large bar area with slots, there is also a blackjack pit, and an outdoor patio and bar to catch your breath. The light and sound systems are state-of-the-art with live entertainment featured Wednesdays through Saturdays starting at 8:30pm. Music covers the entire rock spectrum from new original music to golden oldies to Island favorites, and DJs mash it up on Friday's and Saturday's until 4 am. The menu features classic American fare with a burger specialty.




The MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheater is Tampa Bay's largest outdoor concert venue with a capacity of 20,000. The biggest names in the music industry play here as well as up-and-coming acts. The large stage accommodates all the but the biggest shows and most seats provide a good view. Seating is mostly covered and concerts go off rain or shine. More affordable tickets are available for lawn seating at the rear of the venue, however this area is not protected from the elements so you take your chances. Food and beverage concessions are available including some alcohol sales.




Devoted to nurturing live musical acts, this club supports both local and national performers. The sound system is first-rate and, on nights when the DJs run things, there's a dance floor for those who feel inclined to move and groove. Drink specials are offered during the week, and there's a nice selection of draft beers as well. If you're curious about what Tampa's music scene can offer, drop in for the evening and check out the talent and the atmosphere. Among the name acts who have performed here are Juliana Hatfield, Make Up, and Michelle Malone.


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This poll-topping venue is hailed by many as the premier spot in Tampa, Florida for live music. Originally built in 1917, the Ritz underwent a $2 million renovation that preserved much of the theater's original character while modernizing the space. Now the venue now boasts three magnificent rooms, a grand foyer, multiple full-service bars and state-of-the-art sound and lighting. The venue is large enough to bring in top music industry names like Lady Gaga and Interpol but intimate enough to provide excellent sight-lines and electrifying musician-audience interaction. Ticket prices are reasonable and there is a good drink selection. General admission only and no seating in the concert area. So, get there early and wear comfortable shoes!


6
North Tampa
Brass Mug
Photo courtesy of Skye Rodgers


Opened in 1982, this live music venue is known as "Tampa Bay's Music Core." Although it once headlined bands like pre-stardom Green Day and No Doubt, The Mug is now a punk/metal scene popular among locals and University of South Florida students. Located in a strip mall in north Tampa, the facility is a dimly lit hole-in-the-wall, so don't expect frills (but who wants frills at a metal concert, anyway?). The stage is huge so the bands are happy and that's the most important thing about this venue. Make sure to bring earplugs so you can get close enough to feel the stage thumping.




A legendary local hangout, Skipper's Smokehouse is wonderfully colorful and rustic with a faithful crowd of regulars. The decor is perfectly done in Florida-shack style, looks made of corrugated tin and brightly painted plywood held together with a few nails. Although it started out as a humble take-out smokehouse, Skipper's is now renowned for its seafood and booking some of the top bands in the area. Known as the "Skipperdome," the outside music venue welcomes performers of all musical genres who play to appreciative crowds beneath moss-draped oaks. On any given night you can enjoy rock, soul, jazz, zydeco, blues, ska and reggae under the stars.


David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts
Photo courtesy of Skye Rodgers


The Straz Center is Tampa's world-class center for the performing arts that hosts most of the area's major cultural performances. Here you can enjoy performances from the Florida Orchestra and Opera Tampa as well as popular music greats such as Lena Horn and the Isley Brothers. The Straz also hosts a full calendar of Broadway musicals. The facility is modern and beautiful with a variety of venues. The largest and most impressive is the 2,610 seat Carol Morsani Hall that features state-of-the-art acoustics and a 120 foot stage. In addition to another, smaller concert hall, the 268 seat Jaeb Theater can be set up cabaret style for more intimate performances.


3
Seminole Heights
Red Star Rock Bar
Photo courtesy of Skye Rodgers


Red Star Rock Bar is located in Tampa's trendy Seminole Heights neighborhood. Occupying a small narrow storefront on Florida Avenue, what it lacks in size inside, it makes up for with an outdoor patio and stage area outside. The decor is distinctly rock and roll with plenty of red and black accented with leopard print and images of rock legends on the wall. Their calendar is packed with events every day of the week and live local bands play almost every Friday and Saturday beginning at 8pm. While there is no kitchen, Red Star offers a rotating schedule of some of Tampa's best food trucks.




Downstairs, Rock Brothers in Tampa's historic Ybor City is a craft brewery, full-service bar and tasting room with house-made beers on tap and a full menu of craft cocktails. Upstairs is the Attic, a live music venue that has quickly gained popularity for the quality of the music and the comfortable intimacy of the space. Built on the unique combination of music and craft beer, Rock Brothers was formed to work with bands to create beer recipes and brands reflective of their music. Their first brand was created in partnership with local band "Have Gun Will Travel" and won a National Championship at the United States Beer Tasting Championship (USBTC). Following a successful incubation period at Tampa's famous Cigar City Brewing, Rock Brothers moved into their new space and haven't looked back since.




Featuring rock, jazz, ska, dubstep, hip-hop, indie, metal, and reggae, Tampa's live music scene doesn't get more varied than this. The Crowbar, a local fave strung with Christmas lights, offers a clean, intimate space in which concertgoers can feel completely absorbed by the music. Bar service is consistently stellar, and if your eardrums need a break, you can pamper them on the quiet outdoor patio. Open mic nights and karaoke are also well-loved here. Cover varies from free to $10, so it's a very reasonable price to pay for enjoying live, original music.


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Meet Skye Rodgers

Skye is a freelance writer that adopted Tampa as her hometown over a decade ago and never looked back. As a native of Canada, Skye has happily embraced the no snow climate, and in her spare time...  More About Skye

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