Arts, Features

Where to get your live music fix in Boston

Like any art form, music is constantly finding new niches and ways to connect with people, but nothing will replace the feel of a live show: the energy, the in-person artists and the pure experience of being surrounded by the music.

Dressed in a monkey costume, viral YouTube star Tessa Violet performs at The Red Room at Cafe 939 on Oct. 19, 2016. PHOTO BY CHLOE GRINBERG/ DFP FILE

Live music across the U.S. will be transformed following the COVID-19 pandemic, but despite recent setbacks, Boston’s many venues ensure the live music scene will stay strong.

Paradise Rock Club

Paradise Rock Club has been around since 1977, and it is a staple in the Boston music scene. 

While Paradise is a larger venue, making it harder for smaller bands to fill the capacity, it is a rung on the ladder for local bands building their brand as well as a spot for national touring acts looking for a more compact venue.

This past year, the locale hosted Echosmith, comedian Creed Bratton from The Office and other popular personalities. It is also conveniently located down the street from Boston University’s West Campus dorms, a few doors down from Blaze Pizza and Goodwill.

Paradise Rock Club has already planned live shows for the fall in hopes of permitting pandemic protocols. The line-up includes Kim Gordon, formerly of Sonic Youth, and Hot Chelle Rae along with many lesser-known touring acts and Boston-based bands.


Northeastern University, located down the E train of the Green Line, is closer to BU than it seems. NEU’s afterHOURS is a free concert venue for its students who are occasionally allowed one guest for free and hosts events almost seven days a week.

While many of its events are catered toward NEU students, the venue also hosts concerts from national touring acts and well-known artists. fun., JPEGMAFIA, Phoebe Ryan and Caroline Polachek are a few of the performers who have played afterHOURS in the last few years.

The concerts are intimate and powerful, and the stage is located only feet away from an on-campus Starbucks. The venue also offers other events, including plays, open mic nights, comedy nights and karaoke.

The Red Room

Berklee College of Music itself is sure to hold events showcasing a wide range of musical tastes, including contemporary classical music and singing festivals. However, Berklee also hosts touring acts at The Red Room at Cafe 393. Located down the Green Line toward Kenmore, the short commute is worth it.

BENEE, now best known for her song “Supalonely,” played The Red Room last fall. The small space, complete with a short stage in front, puts the audience right next to the performer. Despite the size of the room, the venue has hosted globally well-known artists such as Hozier, Ingrid Michaelson and Passenger with Ed Sheeran.

The Lilypad

This Cambridge venue is located in Inman Square. The Lilypad shows almost exclusively local bands with a following, but holds many different types of music functions. It has won awards as a jazz space and hosts events almost daily.

Currently, however, its physical location remains closed due to the pandemic.

House of Blues Boston

Seated in Fenway, the House of Blues hosts very well-known acts, which is great, albeit expensive. Equipped with a restaurant and bar as well as a VIP lounge, this was the first live entertainment venue to appear in Boston.

Most of its upcoming shows are postponed, some of which are without set future dates.

TD Garden

Home of the annual Beanpot, the West End’s TD Garden is the largest sports and entertainment arena in New England and has hosted the likes of Harry Styles and Taylor Swift.

Many of its upcoming events have been either canceled or postponed.

Agganis Arena

Agganis Arena at BU’s West Campus also hosts some favorites — including Lizzo, Bad Bunny and the National just last year.

Several upcoming events there are either canceled or postponed.

House shows

Finally, Boston is known for its house concerts, especially in the student-heavy area of Allston. These shows are kept pretty low-key.

Since the closure of Great Scott in Allston, many local bands will be utilizing this performance opportunity.

Still, whether or not such gatherings will occur in the Fall, as COVID-19 remains a concern, is unclear.

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