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The 10 Best Live Music Venues In The US – NYC To San Francisco & More

Photograph of the blog post author, Craig Brown

Craig Brown

19.2.2020

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Despite the continuous growth in streaming, artists still make most of their money from touring. According to Billboard, the richest artists make the majority of their income from touring. There are countless awesome music venues throughout the US, from intimate settings to larger arenas. If you’re not from the US, we’ve got you covered with our Best Live Music Venues in the World.

As an artist, it’s important to plan and know exactly what you’re doing before you go on tour. There are tons of amazing music venues that artists can perform to plan into your next tour. So let’s take a look at the best live music venues in the US…

Red Rocks, Morrison, Colorado

Red Rocks Colorado, music venues Denver

Red Rocks is located in Colorado. Although a lot of people consider it to be one of the music venues of Denver, the venue is actually located in the neighbouring town of Morrison. Named after the beautiful red sandstone rocks, this surreal venue is located between two gigantic sandstone boulders, creating natural, out of this world acoustics. 

This venue is possibly the most unique venue in the US. It sits 6,450 feet above sea level with magnificent views of the Denver area. Performing bands or artists will feel as if they are performing in nature to almost 10,000 highly energetic fans. Acts from Bruno Mars, DJs and my favourite live band Thievery Corporation perform almost, if not yearly at this 100-year-old historic venue. Geddy Lee of the rock band Rush said The Red Rocks is one of the most beautiful venues in America or anywhere. I absolutely agree with this sentiment. 

With an awesome backdrop fused with colourful lights as the sun goes down, this unique venue is definitely the top of the best venues in the US, let alone the best of Denver’s live music venues.

Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles

Hollywood Bowl Los Angeles

Considered to be one of the most popular venues in the US, The Hollywood Bowl opened in the 1920s. This live music venue in Los Angeles is a 17,500 seated venue. It has a signature iconic shell and stage that bands can perform under. The stage is located in front of the Hollywood Hills and the infamous Hollywood sign. Well known acts such as Kanye West, Linkin park and various indie acts performed on this stage. It is the home of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and the summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. It is conveniently located north of Hollywood Boulevard and the Hollywood/ Highland subway station. In 2018, Rolling Stones Magazine named it one of the top 10 best live venues in the US.

Brooklyn Steel, New York City

Brooklyn Steel, NYC

The infamous city that never sleeps, NYC is among the best places in the US for live venues. Located in Brooklyn, The Brooklyn Steel opened in 2017 and is one of the best music venues NYC has to offer. The 1,800 capacity building is a former steel manufacturing plant that was converted into a live music venue and bar. Rolling Stone Magazine named The Brooklyn Steel one of the 10 best music venues in America. The venue boasts an impressive speaker system that provides listening experience for a variety of music genres. A list of artists have made their way to this cool Brooklyn music venue, including artists like Arctic Monkeys, LCD Soundsystem, Soundgarden. PJ Harvey and many others.

Radio City Music Hall, New York City

Radio City Music Hall New York City NYC

Another venue located in NYC is the iconic Radio City Music Hall. Opened in 1932, the majestic venue was built by John D. Rockefeller Jr. to be a theatrical experience unlike no other. The once largest indoor theatre in the world has a long list of acts that performed there. The list includes Frank Sinatra, Jay Z, Michael Jackson and a host of other famous and less famous acts. 

The venues hosted the Grammys and MTV Video Music Awards. The 6,000 seat venue has unobstructed views for the audience and an awesome stage for artists, including a shimmering gold stage curtain.  Designed in the Art Deco style, one of the most notable qualities of the arena is its large auditorium. This historic hall is a great enclave for touring artists and musicians.

Ryman Auditorium, Nashville

Ryman Auditorium Nashville music venues

Nashville, Tennessee is infamous for country music. Over the years this city, famous for country music, has seen a fast rise in other entertainment acts calling it home. One of the most iconic Nashville music venues is the Ryman Auditorium. The auditorium first opened as the Union Gospel Tabernacle in 1892.  Besides many country and rock acts, this venue hosted the first-ever rap act, Wutang Clan. 

This former house of worship was once the home of the Grande Ole Opry. It was originally intended for the people of Nashville to attend large-scale outdoor revivals. The historic auditorium was included in The National Register Of Historic Places in 1971. It was later designated a National historic Landmark for its major role in the popularization of country music. It also serves as a memorial for many prominent country music figures, including host to a vast genres of music from alternative rock, blues jazz and hip-hop among many other genres.

The Fillmore, San Francisco

The Fillmore San Francisco

This 1,000 capacity venue, The Fillmore in San Francisco has a storied history in the psychedelic rock music scene. This iconic San Francisco music venue hosted the signature artists of the time such as Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, including other artists such as BB King, Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding. The Fillmore was built in 1912 and once operated as the Majestic Hall and Academy of Dancing. 

It has been through several transformations over the years. The name changed to the Ambassador Dance Hall and eventually operated as the Ambassador Roller Skating Rink. Since 2007, The Fillmore has been operated by Live Nation. The Fillmore has several branches throughout the US. Artists similar to current performers such as Gary Clark Jr, Radiohead, The B-52’s and Los Lobos will feel at home at this iconic music venue in SF. 

The Tabernacle, Atlanta

The Tabernacle Atlanta music venues

Another venue that has been through several transformations is The Tabernacle in Atlanta. The midsized concert hall is the best of downtown Atlanta’s music venues. Formerly a Southern Baptist church 80 years ago, it was later converted to a house of Blues in the mid-90s. Since its rebranding, countless and notable acts such as Prince & The New Power Generation, Lana del Rey, Eminem, Bob Dylan, Kendrick Lamar, Adele, Madonna, Atlanta’s own hip-hop acts and many other artists have graced the stage. This venue also hosts many comedy tours annually, making it one of the more versatile live music venues in Atlanta.

9:30 Club, Washington, D.C.

9:30 Club Washington DC

A solid DC music venue staple since the 1980s, the 9:30 Club has hosted various acts from Green Day, Radiohead, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, the Ramones, Cyndi Lauper and experimental artist Bjork.  It was founded by artist and dancer Dody DiSanto and her husband. The name is derived from its original location which was at 930 F St. The venue relocated in 1996 to a more intimate 1,200 seat space. Known as a progressive venue, it allowed fans as young as 16 years old. 9:30 Club was also popular for discovering up and coming acts. The unique venue has a stage on wheels to accommodate different size audiences.  A great venue for indie acts, the 930 club has backstage bunk beds, kitchen laundromat, including pastries.

The Norva, Norfolk Virginia

The Norva Norfolk Virginia

Located in Norfolk, Virginia, the Norva was once a former vaudeville theatre in the 1920s to a movie theatre in the 1970s turn athletic club in the 1980s. After $6 million worth of renovations, this unique venue kept a bit of its former aesthetics. It maintains its signature movie theatre features as well as its athletic club aesthetics such as indoor basketball court, and hot tub. 

The numerous times transformed venue reopened in 2000 with a 1,450 seat capacity space played host to historic performances from James Brown and  Prince, including acts as diverse from Kendrick Lamar to Justin Timberlake. A huge selling point for this venue is the advanced cutting edge sound system.  Touring acts will find this newly renovated venue and cutting edge sound system to be quite beneficial to their performances.

Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Chicago

Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Chicago music venues

The Jay Pritzker Pavilion Chicago is located in the beautiful Millennium Park. This modern futuristic Chicago music venue is designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry. It has a $60 million open-air pavilion, featuring 870 tons of brushed stainless steel. To go with the highly modern design is the otherworldly sound system that can also accommodate every genre of music. This is a great venue for various touring acts from jazz to classical music. The venue plays host to the World Music Festival and the Chicago Music Festival. In the summer the pavilion also hosts a series of jazz concerts, including yoga and pilates. The modern designed venue has a beautiful backdrop of the city’s skyline.

Those Are The Best Live Music Venues In The US

Let us know if you agree with our selection and what you think of each of these venues! If you enjoyed this article, there are plenty more like this available on our blog. If you’re new to the music industry, start off by finding how to get gigs. If you’ve been gigging for a while, read our guide on DIY Touring.

If you’re looking for people to collaborate with or get opportunities for your music, talk directly to booking agents and more, we’re here to help! Try Music Gateway for free, just sign up and we’ll guide you through it, step by step.



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