Best Live Music in Boston

Boston Offers Lots of Live Music for Your Listening Pleasure

If your ideal night out includes listening to live music at a cool spot, Boston has a place for you.  Jam packed with live music venues that will be sure to put you in the mood to move your hips, you'll find a variety of musical styles, one of which is sure to please your personal taste.

With so many options in Boston, it can be hard to discern just where to go to get the vibe, style and setting that you desire. Options are endless, so 10best has taken out the guesswork by finding 10 spots that vary in style just as much as they do in music, ensuring there will be one that will strike your fancy.

Local favorites range from The Middle East Restaurant & Nightclub, home to four special spots that offer a diverse mix of music, to legendary nightclubs like Club Passim, known for its musical variety, and launching quite a few famous players.

Those who want to hear up and comers playing jazz flock to the desirable dive bar Wally's where they are jammin' out jazz  365 nights a year. And if you want to see someone perform who is a bit more famous be sure to seek out tickets to a show at the Paradise.

Whatever you desire, Boston is the one city that hosts quite a cast of musical characters for your listening pleasure.


Known for its live music and party atmosphere, the House of Blues is a great Boston spot to get down and get grooving. From concerts to DJ's and even a visit to its famous Foundation Room, there is always a reason to dance at the House of Blues. A well chosen line up of live musical guests lets you buy tickets into this acoustic mega power where you'll enjoy every note hit on stage. Well known performers grace the stage at House of Blues and music genre ranges in type offering all kinds of music lovers the chance to see a show at Boston's House of Blues. A more casual scene than many other dance clubs, and lacking in the electronic music that rules the club scene, House of Blues offers a welcome reprieve.

Recommended for Live Music because: A restaurant that hosts live music, the Beehive maintains a bar vibe while putting out good tunes.

Jessica's expert tip: The House of Blues often sells tickets to shows, check before going to ensure you can get in.

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Ryles is an Inman Square institution that goes beyond the typical jazz club to bring you something special. Spanning two floors, it is a diverse live music venue that often hosts famous favorites like Arturo Sandoval and Nestor Torres. Local acts love to play at Ryle's, and many have moved on to become major players in the national jazz scene. With the first floor dedicated to live music, the second floor acts as a dance hall for looking to get their groove on. But don't expect the usual club vibe here. Instead, you'll find yourself swinging to the beats of Salsa, Merengue, Ballroom and even Swing. Beginners are welcome and Ryle's always has instructors on hand to help out.

Recommended for Live Music because: Ryles hosts both well-known Jazz greats as well as rising stars worth seeing live.

Jessica's expert tip: Tickets are available on-line, in advance and it is recommended that you purchase before arrival as many shows sell out.

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Club Passim is a nonprofit arts organization. Here you'll find an inspiring and interactive music experience meant to be enjoyed by all. Their aim is to create a vibrant community for artists, students and audience members. So many famous faces have passed through these doors, that it is almost impossible to list them all: Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Bruce Springsteen and Tracy Chapman are just a few. Passim may be a Boston legend, but it still acts as one of Boston's most intimate and affordable live music venues. Their 125-seat basement location showcases musical talents seven nights a week. And to enhance your time here you can order beer, wine and dinner from Veggie Planet.

Recommended for Live Music because: Club Passim has 125 seats and is a nonprofit live music venue that aims to inspire musicians and has hosted many who've become quite famous.

Jessica's expert tip: Club Passim does not stand out, be sure to look down to find the entry into this music den.

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Harvard Square

The Sinclair is a Harvard Square live music venue that plays host to a variety of indie acts sure to impress the music lover in you. The space is intimate enough to allow you to feel the music, yet large enough to offer excellent acoustics. The size of the space and proximity of the stage to concert goers promotes interaction with the crowd between sets. Two bars (one upstairs and one downstairs) eliminates waits when ordering drinks. And a kitchen helmed by popular Boston area chef, Michael Schlow, turns out stellar food for those who want to make their night one of dinner and a show. With a separate entrance for the restaurant than for the music venue, the Sinclair truly functions as both restaurant and live music mecca.

Recommended for Live Music because: The intimate setting, top-notch acoustics, and excellent lighting of the Sinclair makes the most of the music on stage.

Jessica's expert tip: Most shows are ticketed events; be sure to check their calendar and order tickets in advance.

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Wally's is a dark, intimate jazz club in Boston's shadier section of the South End, and has been an area favorite since opening its doors in 1947. Each night, Wally's begins its live jazz about 9pm. A training ground for local talent, Wally's favors area students to grace their stage. Tossing in an occasional well-know performer from time to time, Wally's provides live music 365 nights a year without a cover charge. a cover charge. A simple interior reminds you that the inexpensive beers and lack of a cover charge has a price, renovations are not a priority, but that's ok because you're focus will be on the stage.

Recommended for Live Music because: Wally's hole in the wall vibe makes it a perfect place for music stars to do a quick set or enjoy the music unseen.

Jessica's expert tip: From time to time you could bump into big-name performers who have played larger venues earlier in the night at Wally's.

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Popular Jazz acts frequent Scullers making it the destination in Boston to enjoy live Jazz at night. A reputation for offering excellence in the performers picked to don their stage, Scullers has been welcoming guests for quite some time. Enjoy a drink and an appetizer while watching one of the two nightly shows. Scullers is a good place for an evening date as the relaxed atmosphere provides the option for romance. A full menu is filled with tasty cuisine, and the dining room offers great view of the Charles River, giving you the chance to sample more than just music.

Recommended for Live Music because: Sculler's Charles River perch is the spot to see live Jazz in Boston; you'll get great names and great seats.

Jessica's expert tip: Order tickets in advance, shows sell out.

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Offering live music in three distinct settings (Upstairs, the Corner and Downstairs), the Middle East provides a place for a wide array of bands to perform as well as affording space for local artists to display their work. The three performance rooms share space with a stylish restaurant that serves incredible Middle Eastern cuisine. Eclectic does not do justice to the description of this live music venue's week-to-week lineup of bands; including everything from bare-boned rock-n-roll and alternative bands to punk and rap acts the Middle East is a melting pot of music. Also, offering food, many claim it to be one of the best middle eastern restaurants in the city.

Recommended for Live Music because: The Middle East is an entire complex of fun that offers four locations, and a melting pot of live music all within one spot.

Jessica's expert tip: Plan for dinner here and you can make a whole night of your Middle East experience.

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The Paradise Rock Club is a notable Boston club that has been host to some of the biggest name sin music. Larger in scale than many of Boston's hot bars that host live music, the Paradise has more of a concert hall feel. A good sized stage lets performers shine. While giving you the sense you're part of a much larger audience. Alternative rock, pop, world music, and dance fans will find favorite acts who've made it big performing at the Paradise. This club features a dance floor and full bar, and next door you'll find the Paradise Lounge, a bar and restaurant featuring a full menu and decorated with the artwork of local artists. Cash only at the box office.

Recommended for Live Music because: The Paradise Rock Club hosts rock legends and new found talent ranging in musical style.

Jessica's expert tip: Arrive early to the Paradise Rock Club to score a spot close to the stage.

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Great Scott the perfect place to down a pint and enjoy live music. Hosting an impressive line-up of DJ's, special events and a mix of live acts that will keep your feet tapping, Great Scott's is a good time. Prompt bar service enhances the experience because they know that no one wants to wait forever for a refill. Not exactly up to date, Great Scott's is a bar that looks, feels and smells like a bar, but produces entertainment to make up for its lack of ambiance. Although the Allston location of Great Scott's would imply "college bar", Great Scott's sees a mix of ages looking to hear good music.

Recommended for Live Music because: See future stars perform live at Great Scott in an intimate setting with reasonable prices.

Jessica's expert tip: Great Scott's is the unofficial feeder for larger area clubs; you'll be able to get an up front seat for your favorite bands before they move on to larger venues.

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Meet Jessica Polizzotti

Born and raised in Boston, Jessica knows her city like the back of her hand.  Always looking to uncover something new, Jessica keeps up on the latest and greatest Boston offerings. 

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