Miami’s lost some great concert venues in the last few years (R.I.P The Stage and Grand Central) and if some Miami Beach commissioners get what they want, we’ll have to say goodbye to The Fillmore, too – but there are still a few spots you can catch a good show. From big venues like the American Airlines Arena to the grungy, grimy, beloved Churchill’s, here are a few spots to make some musical memories.
What’s your favorite place to catch a concert? We’ll tack it on the list, too.
The Fillmore Miami Beach
Ah, The Fillmore, thank you for the memories. It’s been one of the best places to see live music in the area for a long time, although the Miami Beach Convention Center expansion could end up claiming it. The turquoise blue Art Deco building has been on the beach since the 1950s, when greats like Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, and Jack Benny played there. In more recent years, classic greats like Phil Collins and indie stars like Little Dragon have set the vibe for this place.
North Beach Bandshell
This classic has been around since 1961 – but since a renovation and reopening in 2011, the North Beach Bandshell has come back in full force, thanks in part to the masterful planning and programming of The Rhythm Foundation. They’ve brought everything from local favorites like Afrobeta and the Nu Deco Ensemble to big indie names like Bon Iver and Ibeyi, all of them performing on the seashell white open-air stage. They’ve also hosted yoga festivals, dance band nights, and a whole slew of free activities to really get the community connecting and moving against the backdrop of palm trees and sand.
American Airlines Arena
The American Airlines Arena has hosted everyone from the likes of U2 to Radiohead and Justin Bieber to Ariana Grande. It’s a massive venue but loads of fun for those big blockbuster shows. And with the right lighting and sound design, it can seem a lot more intimate than you’d imagine. The drinks are hella expensive, but that’s the usual for bigger concert venues. Plus, it’s pretty amazing how quickly they can transform it from a stage to a professional basketball court from one day to the next.
(Photo courtesy of Jimmy Baikovicius/flickr creative commons)
Bayfront Park Ampitheatre
Much more than just the site of the world famous Ultra Music Festival and Pitbull’s New Year’s Eve parties, Bayfront Park is a Downtown Miami icon. The waterfront green space has a world-renowned performance venue, as well as community yoga classes, flying trapeze lessons, capoeira classes, and more. And the neighboring Bayside Marketplace is a kitschy outdoor mall and cruise port frequented by tourists that’s home to local and international stores, plus restaurants of all kinds.
If Marlins Park is a good enough venue for Queen Bey to kick off her world tour, it’s definitely good enough for us for basically anything. It’s also hosted the likes of Charli XCX and Guns N’ Roses, too. It’s a massive venue with more than 36,700 seats, but when you have all stars like these gracing your stage, well, you’re gonna need a bigger stage.
(Photo courtesy of Eric Kilby/Flickr Creative Commons)
Punk’s not dead at Churchill’s Pub, Miami’s historic home for live music, all sorts of sportsball drinking, and guaranteed weirdness. Since 1979, Churchill’s has been a favorite stop for bands on the up and up, both local and international, while it has also boasted the city’s most notoriously gross bathroom. It’s a Miami icon and one of the oldest, most venerated, punk bars in the country – the backdrop for everyone’s best bad bar tales. Never change, Churchill’s. Never change.
Oh Gramps, how we love thee, the only true dive in Wynwood. With its yummy drinks, pizza window, trivia nights, and reasonably priced tickets, this double-staged venue never fails to entertain. They’ve managed to bring the likes of Parquet Courts and Hannibal Buress, but also keep their space accessible for locals to perform at too. It’s one of the few places you can see a show both indoors and outdoors in Miami.
New World Symphony
New World Symphony is a cultural treasure, with its Frank Gehry-designed venue, impeccable interior, amazing acoustics, and award-winning, bold programming. Over the years they’ve hosted musical genius Philip Glass, performed Igor Stravinsky’s groundbreaking Rite of Spring and hosted PULSE, a series dedicated to jazz-influenced works and contemporary hits. However, The Wallcast Concert series is probably NWS’s most popular program. Concert goers can watch the live indoor performance from a big outdoor screen — for free. BYOB.
The decadent Olympia Theater opened its Downtown doors in 1926, serving as Miami’s “grandest silent movie palace and Vaudeville house” for more than 40 years. By the 1980s, however, the aging theater needed significant repairs. Restoration projects have brought the sparkle and shine back to this magical venue. Today the Olympia Theater is a Downtown jewel, with a stunning night sky complete with twinkling stars on the ceiling, gold turrets lining the balcony, and an enormous stage for performances of all kinds, including jazz in the Lobby Lounge every second Wednesday of the month.
(Photo Courtesy of Phillip Pessar/Flickr Creative Commons)
“Lagniappe” literally means, “something given as an extra gift” – and this spot feels like that. It’s a no-reservation grill with a hefty wine list for you to enjoy, either out at one of the mismatched table and chair sets in the garden or inside on one of the couches while folk, bluegrass, classical or jazz bands play the nights and weekend afternoons away. With the hanging lights and cozy ambiance, it’s no wonder Miamians love to linger over drinks here for hours.
The Wynwood Yard
The Yard is part restaurant, part bar, part apothecary, part “coffee and work” spot, and part music venue. Post up at the bar after a day in the office, or swing on one of the hammocks while a local act performs. The Yard gets a wide array of acts – everything from Shakira (for real) to the Magic City Hippies to DJ Le Spam. If you’re trying to catch music, be sure to check their site – they’ve got performances several nights a week, but they’re not regularly recurring.