As the semester draws to a close, students find themselves facing a conundrum: What to do with all this free time? Summer is a time for lazy mornings, beach days, and fun night outs. However, you don’t have to let these night outs break your bank! Instead of going to big concert venues like TD Garden and Bank of America Pavilion, whose band merchandise and snacks are just as overpriced as the tickets they sell, head to the smaller venues in Boston for the best bang for your buck.
Brighton Music Hall
158 Brighton Avenue, Allston
Located inconspicuously in the heart of Allston, the Brighton Music Hall is a lesser known venue that draws varied acts from increasingly popular indie headlining bands to more obscure punk and folk bands. The standing-room only viewing area with bars located on both sides of the room accommodates about 340 people, which ensures an intimate concert-going experience with prices that range anywhere from $8-$25. The Brighton Music Hall has a reputation for being a bit grungy; however, the venue has fantastic acoustics, resounding bass, and good visibility no matter where you stand in the crowd. Upcoming acts include Ben Kweller, Dance Gavin Dance, and The Paper Kites.
52 Church Street, Cambridge
The Sinclair is the most recent addition to the Boston music scene, and it is already an acclaimed fan favorite. This venue has everything you can ask for: it is a restaurant, a bar, and a place for live music. On any weekday, The Sinclair is a small restaurant run by noted chef Michael Schlow that has a trendy and modern menu featuring dishes like goat and cheddar-cheese macaroni and Parisian gnocci with an edamame pesto. But on weekends this spot is turned into a live music venue complete with balcony and floor vantage points that make the food almost an afterthought. Lineups include popular DJ’s like DJ Shadow and A-trak as well as folk singers like Sarah Jarosz. Tickets never exceed $40, but they tend to sell out quickly so it’s recommended to book beforehand! Upcoming acts include Katie Herzig and Howie Day.
The Middle East
472-480 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge
The Middle East has been a long-time local favorite, and there’s no question as why that is. This club boasts two different stages: the Middle East Upstairs and Downstairs. Upstairs is a much more intimate experience, and headliners tend to be locally-based or lesser known musicians. Because of this, tickets tend to hover around an average of only $10. Downstairs draws a slightly larger viewing crowd, as well as more popular headlining bands. Before the show, make sure to stop at ZuZu’s, the restaurant located upstairs that features some of the city’s best falafel. The Middle East hosts a variety of acts from DJ’s to local ska bands and from international and jazz musicians to indie/folk singers. The Middle East won the Boston Magazine’s award for “Best Music Venue” back in 1992, and more than a decade later the club is still one of the most popular venues in the city. Upcoming acts include Los Rakas, DJ Lotusound, and Parachuter.
Paradise Rock Club
967 Commonwealth Avenue, Allston
This club was made famous for their early support of big name bands like U2, The Dresden Dolls, and Coldplay; and today it is still a venue known for featuring up-and-coming artists as well as already famous musicians. The recently remodeled venue is standing room only, and features four different bars. Most shows are 18+, but acts range from hip-hop to electric-punk, and from alternative to heavy metal bands. In other words, this club has something for everyone with tickets averaging about $20 per show. The venue itself is fairly small which gives concert-goers a chance to really get up close and personal with all of the performers. Upcoming acts include Escape the Fate, The Afghan Whigs, and La Roux.
541 Tremont St, Boston
As a self-dubbed “bohemian eatery and bar,” The Beehive offers a unique addition to the Boston music scene. Located right off the Boston Common, they have daily live performances that features an eclectic mix of jazz, funk, blues, Latin, soul, and world music by local and international artists. The menu is as eclectic as the music they play there: dishes include truffled potato & cheese pierogies, za-atar marinated chicken breast, and baby back ribs. Come here for a funky and relaxed atmosphere with daily live music to add a nice background ambience to your meal. Upcoming acts include Latin vocal guitarist Fernando Ferrer and swinging jazz-funk musician Alex Lee Clark.
The Great Scott
1222 Commonwealth Ave, Allston
The Great Scott is a lesser-known local favorite affectionately referred to as a chill “dive” bar with great musical acts. With a capacity of only 240 people, concerts here are intimate and incredibly cheap featuring more obscure yet up-and-coming indie artists. Their lineup also includes a weekly electro-danced night known as The Pill along with several stand-up comedy routines. Because it is such a small venue, it is cash only, so be sure to hit an ATM before you arrive. Drinks are moderately priced, but the staff is incredibly friendly and makes it clear why this is a neighborhood favorite. Upcoming acts include Jessy Lanza, French Horn Rebellion, and Deleted Scenes.
House of Blues
15 Lansdowne Street, Boston
Although the House of Blues is a well-known chain with over 13 music venues across the nation, this venue is still a staple for concerts in Boston. Because of its success, House of Blues does tend to feature a lot more mainstream bands, with tickets averaging about $50. The inflation is well worth it because House of Blues is unlike any other concert venue in Boston. As it is smaller than the average mainstream concert venue, it gives the intimate vibe while still featuring some huge names in the industry. The 2,500 capacity room is divided into a general admission, standing room only floor with two additional balconies and a mezzanine that ensure every person has a great view of the stage. Be sure to get there early, for lines to get in tend to snake all the way down Landsdowne Street and into Yawkey Way. Upcoming acts include A$AP Ferg, Foster the People, and Ingrid Michaelson.
Berklee Performance Center
136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston
For something slightly different, but still incredibly cheap, make your way to Mass Ave. to see what the Berklee students are up to — you won’t be disappointed! No matter where you sit in the theater, the sound quality is sure to be amazing. Not only does this venue feature student performances, they have also been known to bring in some big names like Glen Hansard and Idina Menzel. The Berklee Performance Center boasts comfortable seats on an angle so that everyone can see the stage comfortably without straining their necks. Plus, you can’t beat the prices: student performances are always free! Upcoming performances include the Berklee Global Jazz Institute Musicians, Thomas Anello, and Lily & Madeleine