In the fall of 2015, a rash of live music venues announced their imminent closure seemingly one right after the other, and since then there have been numerous additional closures.
While there will always be a place in our hearts and memories for the Vagabond, the Stage, Will Call, Grand Central, Tobacco Road, and others who have come and gone, don’t be misled: the ecosystem of music venues may be changing, but there’s plenty to be excited about. Here are some of the most incredible but most underhyped live music venues in Miami.
North Beach Bandshell
Bandshell is not your typical music venue, although it boasts a robust roster of acts and hosts a few local festivals throughout the year.
You’re probably also going to notice that the Bandshell is an outdoors venue, so the shows end strictly at 10 PM. If there’s a better way to enjoy a live show than underneath the swaying palm trees with a gentle salt breeze in the air, I’d love to hear about it.
✨💃🏼🎶 – A.C.H.E. @afrocubanhouseexperiment with the original OG @djoscarg305 @obafranklords and @katiahshe are bringing an amazing live show to the Bandshell Friday night for #transatlanticfestival Night One. Tix are just $15 in advance, kids free at TransAtlanticFestival.com. See you there! @revolutionradiomiami livestream too. #housemusic #rumba #305 #madeinmiami
A local hotspot in Wynwood, Gramps is the only venue on our list where you can catch the occasional gator show. If that’s not already selling this spot for you then don’t worry because this groovy old dude has more than a few tricks up his sleeve.
Although you can also catch DJs spinning and mixing, the live music lineup is solid with acts like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (this Wednesday 4/26) and Surfer Blood (Friday 4/28) finding a roost and an audience there when they come to town.
Ball & Chain Miami
Resurrected much in the style of its 1930s and ’40s fame, the brightly lit “World Famous Ball & Chain Bar and Lounge” that was once home to shady characters features live music with a touch of nostalgia in the heart of Little Havana.
The original Ball & Chain ran into a slew of problems with the law during its initial run after its grand opening in 1935 and was frequently busted for gambling and liquor violations (as were all the best places). But far more importantly, it also broke ground in the South by regularly featuring black entertainers like Josephine Baker, Count Basie, and Billie Holiday.
Today, it stands as the premiere bar and lounge in Little Havana, a nod to the historicity and diaspora of Miami’s thriving nightlife culture.
Yes, I’m including the storied Olympia Theater on this list. Although it’s one of the most recognizable live music venues in the 305, it’s still underhyped for how great it truly is.
Situated in Downtown Miami and designated as a historical landmark, Olympia Theater opened its doors to the public in 1926 and has been host and hall to thousands of performances — many of them quite legendary. Elvis Presley, B. B. King, Etta James, Supertramp, Jimmy Buffett, The Police, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Sufjan Stevens have all performed in the Olympia’s iconic halls.
Looking to find the city’s best big headline clubs? Read about the 5 best electronic dance music clubs in Miami.