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Live Music

College Street Music Hall: A Complete Review

Photograph of the blog post author, Xenia Huntley

Xenia Huntley


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College Street Music Hall

Connecticut’s ‘phenomenal’ concert venue has exceptional acoustics and an unrivalled atmosphere and is fast becoming a favorite for bands and fans alike.

College Street Music Hall is a vibey and versatile live music venue that is perfectly located in New Haven’s bustling arts and entertainment district. Surrounded by world-class colleges and universities, the unique performance space is, without a doubt, a venue on the rise and is regarded by many as one of the best places to experience a live performance outside of New York.

Following an extensive renovation project, the historic venue opened afresh in May 2015. It made a real entrance on the entertainment scene and featured a programme so diverse that local indie bands became roster siblings with touring greats such as The Black Keys and The Lumineers. 

With a reputation for having crystal clear acoustics and an electric atmosphere, College Street Music Hall has seriously raised the bar since opening its doors. The not-for-profit venue seems dedicated to nurturing Connecticut’s music scene, saying:

 “We’re on a mission to make sure that Connecticut is no longer seen as a state in between the entertainment meccas of New York and Boston”. 

Something which, if you look at the trajectory of their ticket sales or the bands they are attracting, they are well on course to achieve.

As more and more genre-spanning live acts choose to play here – the venue is fast becoming known, to those in the know, as a hidden gem concert venue that’s worth travelling for. It is known as the perfect location for fans who would rather experience an intimate gig than watch a screen at an arena.

The solid medium-sized venue has garnered over 1200 reviews, racking up a very respectable 4.6-star rating on google. To give you an idea of what people’s opinions of the place are, here is a sample of online reviews:

“This is a really amazing venue for live music. It’s the only place I’ve ever seen that has what I would call ‘stadium seating’ where the general admission area has levels so if you are not in the front you can still see the stage. The acoustics are phenomenal and it is big enough to fit a good crowd but small enough to feel intimate with the band.” (Dmitri Alvaro, Google reviews)

“The new Gold Standard in music venues” (Kari Bunn, Google Reviews) 

Venue Features 

People arrive to hear from veteran journalist Bob Woodward at College Street Music Hall in downtown New Haven, Conn., on Tuesday Jan. 22, 2019.

College Street Music Hall has a modular theater style layout, which means it can easily adapt its capacity depending on the gig. From standing-only concerts with reserved balcony seating, to fully seated theater shows, or even a combination of both – you would be hard-pushed to find a more versatile venue space. 

The state-of-the-art production facilities are also a huge draw for music aficionados. College Street Music Hall houses an impressive ( Fox and Warner Brothers favorite!) Meyer sound system, which can be absolutely relied upon to offer an exceptional sound experience for live music performances, every single time. 

The main floor of the venue has a capacity of 825 people and the balcony has a capacity of 575 people. The stage measures 30 by 20 feet and features some cool relics from days gone by that are really worth looking out for. The experienced technicians who control the premium sound and lighting rigs are as dedicated as they are passionate too, never stopping short of ensuring the best possible production output, whatever the gig may be. 

Going to see your favorite band can quickly become a hungry mission though. While the venue is perfectly located in the heart of a thriving area filled with places to eat and drink,  delicious and reasonably priced hand-filled corn tacos are served all night courtesy of Geronimo’s Tequila Bar  – allowing you to fuel up with more than just hot anticipation for your gig. 

Alongside the exciting Mexican offerings coming from the taco cart in the lobby, the knowledgeable and friendly bar staff are on hand to serve a wide range of reasonably priced drinks which include craft beers, cocktails, soft drinks and cheeky bar snacks. 

The venue is said to be “awesome” even at full capacity, with gig-goer Elizabeth Jacobs saying she could “count the stars” on Glasgow’s synth-pop rock trio ‘Chvrches’ frontwoman Lauren Mayberry’s boots! 

The promoters seem to be really striking the right chord in terms of programming too,

“College Street Music Hall is one of our favorite venues in the New Haven area. Have seen everything from storytellers to hyper pop to hardcore here, and have never had anything but a fantastic night. The staff are all friendly, courteous and helpful, the venue and bathrooms are clean, the sound and lightwork are some of the best in the area and the crowd is always a vibe. Tiered floor space allows for a great general admission experience for shorties and really there are no bad seats in the house. Drink prices are totally on par for the area and there’s an outdoor smoking area for those who partake.” (Google reviewer. 2022)

Top tip: The venue is steeped in entertainment history. If you can tear your eyes away from the stage spectacle and look up, you might catch a glimpse of the beautifully painted ceilings, with ornate detailing that might well transport you back to a time when Bob Dylan or the Red Hot Chilli Peppers played there!


College Street Music Hall

Inside the Music Hall, you will find a variety of seating, perfect for those with differing needs. The management proudly ensures that ADA-friendly seating is available at each and every one of its shows. For those who are able to make their way upstairs, there are 575 fixed seats on the balcony and the lounge areas, which give a perfect overview of the expansive stage without compromising on sound. The acoustics from the balcony has been described as “crystal clear” online. 

Another great feature of this concert setting is that unless otherwise advertised, shows are open to all ages, helping to foster a live music scene that is accessible to all. Usual age-related drink restrictions apply.

Affordable parking ($9 prepaid) is available at Temple Street Garage which is just across the street from CSMH. To make the most of the discounted parking rate, you will need to pay by ParkWhiz. If you need to park even closer to the venue, College Street has metered on-street parking until 9 pm and there are also a number of paid lots nearby too. 

The entire venue, including its outside smoking area and bathrooms, has a reputation for being well-maintained and clean, probably helped by its close proximity to the squeaky clean grounds of the world-famous Yale University, which sits just a stone’s throw away from CSMH.  

A visit to this iconic venue offers you more than just a high-grade gig experience, it offers you the chance to step back in music history too.  Since the venue was built in 1926, it has had many entertainment incarnations, the first of which being The Roger Sherman Theatre, with the “Founding Father” of the United States its namesake on account of Sherman’s signature appearing on the July 4th declaration of independence in 1776. 

After being built, the venue rapidly earned itself a place on the cultural map of the United States when it hosted the dazzling world premiere of  Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid in 1969. Among the great and good to walk the venue’s red carpet were the legendary Barbara Streisand and Paul Newman, who paved the way for countless other greats’ who went on to revel in New Haven’s most talked about performance venue. 

Fifteen years after this iconic film premier, the venue had its second incarnation when it  – renamed itself ‘The Palace’ In 1984. Palace, as it was casually known, went on to become the venue of legends, with music royalty such as, B.B. King, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sonic Youth, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Meat Loaf, Tori Amos, Fleetwood Mac, Sheryl Crow, Counting Crows, Run-DMC, and The Monkees, all taking to the stage.

Today the venue is run by the nonprofit corporation ‘New Haven center for performing arts’, which adds a facility fee onto every show ticket to help maintain the building and nurture the thriving live music scene in CT.

Overall, College Street Music Hall is becoming a truly legendary performance space, rapidly redefining itself as the ‘gold standard’ for live music venues, and with its impressive history, it’s hardly surprising.

At CSMH in 2023 you can expect sell-out shows from rock legends Trivium and Beartooth, as well as The Wonder Years who will be bringing their seventh studio album tour ‘the hum goes on forever’ to the stage. 

Catchy Indie pop swingers Belle and Sebastien, were also due to take to the stage in June, but at the time of writing their show had unfortunately been cancelled, perhaps giving you even more reason to regularly check out their impressive line-up by visiting their website. 

Top tip: It varies depending on the tour’s schedule, but usually College Street Music Hall promoters update their lineups on Monday or Tuesday morning, so check back then if you want to be the first to know about a new booking.

Practical information 

The venue has tight security and amongst other things, they don’t allow in backpacks or large bags. A coat check facility is available on a first-come-first-served basis but this does fill up quickly. 

If you’re making a special trip to experience a gig at College Street Music Hall, the venue has an official partnership with the New Haven Hotel, which offers a convenient, special rate guest accommodation for CSMH patrons. Who knows? maybe you will even catch the band for afters!

Where is College Street Music Hall? 

Address: College Street Music Hall (CSMH), 238 College Street, New Haven, CT, 06510, USA

Opening Hours: Vary depending on shows. 

College Street Music Hall is a great place to see a variety of music genres and the atmosphere is always lively and fun. It comes highly recommended for anyone looking for a great night out! 

Can I hire out College Street Music Hall?

If you’re an artist looking to join the likes of The Flaming Lips or The Avett Brothers by performing at the historic gig venue, you can rent the “gold standard” music hall yourself thanks to the huge variety of rental options the venue offers. 

From microphones, amplifiers, sound systems and instruments, to DJ equipment, and lighting, their highly professional tech team are on hand to offer absolute production management for any venue rental. Whether you are needing a place to house a small intimate show or a large full-scale concert, the CSMH team can be involved as little or as much as you like. They even offer setup and breakdown services, meaning you can focus on the artists.

The Music Hall’s stage & Sound rental charges range from $150 to $600 per hour depending on the size and complexity of the production. This includes sound equipment, stage lighting and setup, and a sound engineer.

For more information or to book tickets visit their website here. 


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