Best Live Music in Baltimore

Baltimore attracts everything from A list to garage bands: something for everyone

Baltimore is a city that's always evolving: some live music venues come and go or shift direction on the kind of music they feature. When planning a visit here, it certainly pays to check out a given venue's website to see what they're up to, show-wise. That being said, there are some mainstays with unique character and a wide variety of music genres in the city and outlying areas. Yes, we get big acts here in Baltimore!

For that quintessential Baltimore feeling, with the water and views of the Inner Harbor, Pier 6 Pavilion is fun, breezy and convenient for tourists. Though you'll find a range of styles in their summer lineup, it's definitely solid with Southern rock, classic rock and country.

Classical music aficionados already appreciate the world-renowned Baltimore Symphony Orchestra: see them live at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. A-list soloists make this city one of their tour stops.

Cat's Eye Pub is a classic Fells Point bar that features live music every single night, even on holidays! This is a place to check out Americana, Blues, indie bands and folk music.


South Baltimore
Mobtown Ballroom
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman

Right at the heart of "Pigtown" is a re-purposed 1870's church hosting all kinds of fun things to do that require lots of space. One of those things, every few weeks, is live music. Jazz, Blues and Soul are most frequently on the schedule, with a special Soul/R & B show on NYE including "death defying aerial artists"! After much effort from Mobtown Ballroom, they've secured a full liquor license. Among other things, they had to get a law changed that prohibited liquor from being sold within 300 feet of a church!

Recommended for Live Music because: With what is called the finest dance floor on the East Coast and beautiful surroundings, this is a fun, intimate place to hear music.

Tamar's expert tip: Get there plenty early to secure a nearby parking space. You can ask a staffer to walk you back.

Read more about Mobtown Ballroom →

Joe Squared
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman

The live music shows are at Joe Squared's Station North location, a constantly evolving arts district in Baltimore just north of Penn Station (thus, its name).

Joe Squared is moving its location up the street – closer to Charles Street – and will have a dedicated music hall upstairs, though it promises to still retain the old intimacy that's been a favorite of folks in Baltimore. (The photo is of the old location.)

While munching on gourmet pizza or risotto, you can listen to local and regional musicians play Americana, jazz, funk, rock, bluegrass and other styles. The new location hasn't posted its music schedule yet, so it's unknown how frequently bands will be playing.

Recommended for Live Music because: Fun, local bands plus pizza equals a laid-back party that's a favorite with Baltimore and the surrounding area.

Tamar's expert tip: The new Station North location will have a dedicated music hall.

Read more about Joe Squared →

Cat's Eye Pub
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman

Cat's Eye Pub is celebrating its 40th year in pub-crawl magnet Fells Point on a historic cobblestone waterfront street that's hosted places to drink since before we were the United States. George Washington is said to have patronized pubs here.

Whatever your plans are – and no matter the holiday – Cat's Eye is open 365 days a year with live music playing every single evening starting at 9:30 (Friday at 5:00).

Cat's Eye tends to attract a different crowd from many other of the bars in Fells Point: here, you'll find a happy mix of hipsters and older people. This is probably a result of the bands they book, such as Blues, Americana, folk and indie styles.

Recommended for Live Music because: It's fun to be able to see bands on what are the quieter nights in Baltimore.

Tamar's expert tip: Some of us older folks or other early birds will appreciate that they have Saturday and Sunday late afternoon shows.

Read more about Cat's Eye Pub →

Pop's Tavern
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman

Pop's Tavern got the second Baltimore County liquor license after the end of Prohibition in 1933 and they're the oldest tavern still running continuously. Check out some quiet little – but charming – vintage Art Deco touches, such as the restroom sign lights. Its popularity no doubt rose when nearby Bethlehem Steel - now closed - was operating at full blast 24/7.

Live bands still play on Saturday nights to a packed, older crowd. Back in the day, bands such as Danny and the Juniors, as well as The Platters played there. Today, dance bands get people to their feet. This is a place to have casual fun, opposed to being on display.

Recommended for Live Music because: Pop's Tavern hosts live country and Southern rock bands in a historic, cute bar!

Tamar's expert tip: Saturday's the best night at Pop's. If you want a table, best come early.

Read more about Pop's Tavern →

North Baltimore
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman, Esq.

Everything from cute local college garage bands to well-known names on their way up (or a shade past their prime) are booked at Ottobar. With a main stage downstairs and a casual spot with pool table upstairs, you can hear your music anyway you like . . . even if that includes being able to get to know your date better throughout the evening. You'll also find a wide range of music, each night bringing in its own kind of crowd. You know who you are!

If you can snag main stage balcony sofa seats, you'll feel like a VIP at no extra cost.

Recommended for Live Music because: With their now North Baltimore location, this is a real local venue – not touristy at all. It reflects the diversity of the city.

Tamar's expert tip: Geeks Night Out! – one of their unique events – is brought to you by The Ottobar and Collectors Corner. It's a monthly celebration dedicated to comics, video games, boardgames, cartoons, music, movies, toys and all things nerdy.

Play their games or bring your own. Cosplayers get two-for-one drinks.

Read more about Ottobar →

Rams Head Live!
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman

Unless the show is specifically listed as having seating, this is a standing room only venue. There are a precious few seats by the bar, but you'll most likely have to line up before the show to have a chance at snagging them. If you want to get a front and center spot of the stage, you'll need to get to Ram's Head early.

In the past, bands like Everclear, B.B. King, Jay-Z, Journey, Sean Paul, Third Eye Blind, Shinedown stopped by. Today, you'll see a wide range of acts from AAA Radio artists such as JJ Grey & Mofro to Maryland Deathfest 2016.

Recommended for Live Music because: Right downtown in the heart of where tourists love to go is a venue that has medium-sized acts – but with great followings.

Tamar's expert tip: Parking in the rear of the building leads straight to the lobby.

Read more about Rams Head Live! →

Live at Harford Community College
Photo courtesy of Harford Community College

People who are traveling to and from north of Baltimore will be delighted with the wide variety of live music shows available at "Live at Harford Community College". The college actually has several concert venues, each sized and designed to properly showcase different styles of music. The various performance halls fit audiences from 60 up to 3,200.

For instance, music historians know that chamber music originated in the small, intimate salons in the homes of European aristocracy. The music written for it, as well as the instrumentation, was all geared to the size of the concert hall. The Joppa Recital Halls reflect these artistic traditions.

When you want to rock out, the APG Federal Credit Union Arena gives the space you want, but still has all good seats and a friendly atmosphere.

Recommended for Live Music because: Convenient near to I-95 with free parking, it's a great place to hear everything from Led Zepplin tribute bands to Travis Tritt.

Tamar's expert tip: A concert this January called "The Winter Doldrums" has an after-party with jazz, drinks and treats.

Read more about Live at Harford Community College →

Royal Farms Arena
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman

What is now called Royal Farms Arena – after a few name changes over the past several years – has become the venue to see huge A-list acts like Rihanna, Justin Bieber, The Eagles, Janet Jackson, Lynyrd Skynyrd and more. For such a cavernous place, the sound system's pretty clean. The venue holds up to 14,000 people in a horseshoe shape with three levels/

Along with live music, Royal Farms Arena hosts acts like Jeff Dunham, soccer games, circuses, comedians, WWE and now, Shogun Fights.

The Light Rail, one of the free Circulator routes and a couple of bus lines pass right in front of the arena, so leave your car at home!

Recommended for Live Music because: This is where the hottest acts come to play in Baltimore!

Tamar's expert tip: The seats on the far right side, middle level, feel like you're on stage with the band.

Read more about Royal Farms Arena →

Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman

Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, home to Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, is considered to have "pristine" acoustics. It's modern, clean design has no flat walls or 90 degree angles, so sound waves can travel and go where they need to go. There are no obstructed seats at the Meyerhoff, as locals call it. This upcoming year is the 100th anniversary of the BSO: there are lots of special artists and programs scheduled. Not only can you see BSO classical and pops concerts at the Meyerhoff, but there are also lectures from globally renowned authors and newsmakers, pop artists, children's concerts, magic shows and other events.

Recommended for Live Music because: Many of the greatest artists of our era come perform at Meyerhoff.

Tamar's expert tip: The Meyerhoff is on all of the major transportation lines, which is something to consider as the nearest parking lot can fill up.

Read more about Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall →

Pier Six Pavilion
Photo courtesy of Tamar Alexia Fleishman, Esq.

Baltimore's Pier Six Pavilion is located right in the Inner Harbor, unlike many city's outdoor concert venues which are out of town. It's steps from restaurants, hotels, parking.

Nearby hotel guests on their balconies and boaters in the harbor can certainly catch strains of whatever show that's playing. Pier Six does a good job of hosting a wide variety of musical acts, to appeal to a cross-section of concert goers. The season generally includes a solid schedule of classic rock, Southern rock, metal, R & B, country music.

The audience can see landmarks of the Inner Harbor from their seats. Beer and snacks are available for purchase.

Recommended for Live Music because: With the open air concert pavilion and view of Baltimore's iconic Inner Harbor, you get a true Baltimore experience.

Tamar's expert tip: Aisle seats for the first few rows give you more leg room and feel like front row, though column blocks some views. Also, be prepared for Baltimore's "cougars" to slip down and try to dance in your spot. Security's pretty good, though.

Read more about Pier Six Pavilion →