search

10 Best Bars and Entertainment Venues for Live Music in Buffalo



The power of live music to unite people is undeniable and its draw is universal. Some cities like Austin, Nashville and New Orleans are known for live music, and while Buffalo may not be in the same category with larger cities, its music scene certainly comes out on top when listed among smaller cities the United States. On weekends, you'll find live music at almost every bar, several outstanding indoor venues draw big-name acts, and in the summer its outdoor concerts at three major public spaces are flooded with people enjoying the weather, the culture, and the vibes. If listening to bands and vocalists show off their skills is how you like to spend an evening, you'll find that Buffalo does things right. Year round, you can check out what's happening at the Town Ballroom or the Waiting Room, two indoor venues that offer both national and local acts. During the summer, Artpark, Larkin Square, and Canalside all offer a concert series and a laid back, festival-like atmosphere.

While many venues on the local music scene are clustered in the Downtown area, know that terrific places to hear live music can be found throughout Buffalo. Here are our 10 favorite venues that offer a variety of live music options in the Queen City.


Advertisement



Founded in the 1930s, this second-floor club served as a haven for African-American music lovers and is an ideal place to relax with a drink and enjoy local music. Today folks still congregate here to enjoy live blues and jazz bands, including big bands and individual acts. Lined with photos of famous musicians including Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie and Duke Ellington, the interior pays tribute to the venue's cultural and musical legacies. If you are learning to play, the club offers Saturday lessons, and from Wednesdays to Saturdays the Colored Musician's Museum is open by appointment. In June, many of the musicians from the club perform at the Queen City Jazz Festival.

Recommended for Live Music because: The Colored Musican's Club is helping keeping jazz alive in Buffalo.

Amber's expert tip: On nights when there's no entertainment, jazz lovers can also check out Dukes Bohemian Groove Bar or Tralf Music Hall.

Read more about Colored Musicians Club →


Broadway Joe's


Fantastic live performances by emerging local musicians draw a discriminating clientele to this popular bar. Don't expect anything fancy: it's a dive with dart boards, a small stage and cheap drinks (think $6 pitchers of beer). As far as the lineup goes, variety is the name of the game, so you might find anything from rock to reggae to hip-hop groups on stage. Monday night features karaoke, Tuesday is open mic, Wednesday is heavy metal and bloody Mary cocktails, Thursday is electronic music, and weekend performances are constantly changing. An enviable selection of imported brews and frequent nightly are specials available.

Recommended for Live Music because: This dive bar offers a reliable source of quality music and is budget friendly.

Amber's expert tip: On Monday and Tuesday nights, they have killer wings for 36 cents.

Read more about Broadway Joe's →




For Buffalo's trendy culture and entertainment scene, The Waiting Room is the place to be. Indie bands and a clean, modern motif with private parking make this an easy choice. There is a dance floor area in front of the stage, and a wide variety of beer on tap. Located on Delaware Ave, even though most of the acts are under-the-radar, the Waiting Room is one to watch. The outlying area has much to offer visitors, from parks, man-made beaches (in the summer), and spectacular sunsets. Music varieties includes acoustic, dance, and tribute bands. You're almost guaranteed to find a new band a have a great time at the Waiting Room.

Recommended for Live Music because: For a local spot with under-the-radar music, this is the place to be.

Amber's expert tip: Parking is available behind the building, and with a stellar line up, this is a no brainer.

Read more about The Waiting Room →


Advertisement
7
Allentown


This is the ultimate hipster bar; it's dark, slightly smelly and grungy. If you moved a Brooklyn bar to Buffalo, this would be it. That being said, it's not unusual to hear an emerging musician on the piano, or other folk, indie, and rock bands take the spotlight at this relaxed bar. This is definitely a "scene" in Western New York. Patrons kick back with pints of Guinness, Bass, Killian's Irish Red or Rolling Rock. If none of those tempt the palate, don't sweat it: you get to choose from among 13 bottled brews, imported and domestic. Should you feel the urge to dance, the spacious dance floor accommodates crowds.

Recommended for Live Music because: From live bands and acoustic entertainment to burlesque shows, there's always musical fun.

Amber's expert tip: Don't miss Tuesday comedy nights!

Read more about Nietzsche's →




While bars across the street seem overflowing with attempts at being trendy, Allen Street is genuine version of the bohemian-meets hipster neighborhood hangout. This intriguing coffeehouse (by day) features savory bites, a full bar and frequent live music. Art by local artists lines adorns the walls and entertainment ranges from jazz to folk to blues bands. You'll find an extensive variety of liquor including a wide selection of premium malt scotches, and the food menu offers dishes like Asian chicken salad, Norwegian smoked salmon, and 10 irresistible versions of the panini. Friendly staff members actually want to talk to patrons, no matter how busy the night is.

Recommended for Live Music because: An incredible beer selection, quality local music, and an unpretentious vibe set this bar apart.

Amber's expert tip: After a late night out, this place is perfect for a "recovery" brunch.

Read more about Allen Street Hardware Cafe →




For a true local vibe and music that you won't find anywhere else, head to Sportsmen's Tavern. The lower level feels like a rustic pub, and upstairs there is a patio with great views of the city. The owner is a musician who also owns a recording studio, which can explain why the quality and variety of performers is top notch. The Grille restaurant is a step above pub grub and serves up excellent cuisine, including chicken souvlaki salad, the signature Vermont ale house cheddar burger, and Philly cheese steaks. With more than 40 shows per month, you'll be able to catch local and national acts that often don't perform in larger venues.

Recommended for Live Music because: This is where musicians in Buffalo go to hear live music.

Amber's expert tip: On Tuesdays, stop by for live music lunches with big bands, or on Thursdays for live honky tonk.

Read more about Sportsmen's Tavern →


4
Downtown
Canalside
Photo courtesy of Visit Buffalo Niagara and Buffalo Place


In 2005, the Canalside district was reclaimed for restoration. Now, the city is continuing a $315 million development that has already transformed the 23-acre waterfront area into a thriving attraction. Throughout the summer, more than 100 events - including live outdoor performances from national acts (like G Love and Special Sauce, Counting Crows and Justin Bieber) - are drawing crowds. Several other events like artisan markets, book signings, history tours, outdoor movies, food and culture festivals, art shows and pub crawls are giving people even more reasons to "see what's going on" at Canalside. Many of the events and shows are free of charge. Grab a seat in the grass in front if the canal and relax, bring a picnic lunch, or stay until sunset when even more shows get started.

Recommended for Live Music because: This stunning new attraction offers casual outdoor shows next to the waterfront.

Amber's expert tip: For another great outdoor venue with a summer concert series, check out Larkin Square.

Read more about Canalside →




This beloved music club draws outstanding artists, often rock or jazz, and more than decent cover bands. Show patrons love the cozy atmosphere and may enhance their experience with a stop at the bar, which provides a long list of beers on tap, good cocktails and typical eats, including quesadillas, nachos and chicken fingers. Tiered seating provides plenty of options, and there isn't a bad seat in the house. Servers stop by to see if patrons need anything (whether they are standing or sitting) and food and drink selections are surprising for a music venue. With a prime location in the theater district, there are plenty of things to do before or after the show.

Recommended for Live Music because: Although larger than most venues in Buffalo, the Tralf doesn't lose its "homey" feel.

Amber's expert tip: Street parking can be tricky; read the signs carefully!

Read more about The Tralf Music Hall →




Located outside of Lewiston, Artpark encompasses more than 200 acres solely devoted to nature and the arts, both visual and performing. During the summer, a full schedule of events includes world-class musical and theatrical performances (like Mary Poppins and Aladdin) as well as music festivals. Acts include world-famous bands like The Wailers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Counting Crows, ZZ Top, and Glen Miller Orchestra. Some of the events are free, but most concert tickets are $10 and offer simple lawn seating. Large-scale sculptures line some of the hiking and biking trails, while other interesting features include an 1800-year-old burial mound and views of the Niagara River gorge.

Recommended for Live Music because: Visitors can easily spend a day exploring the park before watching the live music shows.

Amber's expert tip: For some extra cash, you can sit in the upper VIP area and dodge the long lines for food vendors.

Read more about Artpark →




During its heyday, this venue was home to show girls, gamblers, and musical legends. In 2005 the Town Ballroom was restored to her original glory, and today is one of Buffalo's premier entertainment venues. There is no seating inside, so either stand by the stage or on the top level. The sound quality is outstanding and you won't find a bad view in the house! Artists like Pepper, STS9, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, Dropkick Murphys, Neon Trees, and many more acts perform to often sold-out shows. The Town Ballroom also hosts a number of local artists, so check the event schedule to see what rising stars are taking the stage.

Recommended for Live Music because: This is an overall excellent venue with great mix of local musicians, emerging acts, and big-name performers.

Amber's expert tip: There is a separate lounge/bar for before or after the show and drinks are reasonably priced.

Read more about Town Ballroom →


Map

Meet Amber Nolan

Originally from upstate New York, this restless traveler has a knack for befriending interesting characters. You can usually find her just about anywhere that has a hammock. Amber's favorite...  More About Amber

×