On the Beat
Live music fans are known to sing Baltimore’s praises. Honored by Rolling Stone magazine for its happenin’ scene, the city offers no shortage of topnotch venues, regardless of your lyrical tastes.
With a happenin’ music scene honored by Rolling Stone magazine, Baltimore offers no shortage of top-notch venues for live tunes.
ROCK, JAZZ, CLASSICAL, INDIE, POP and even obscure world beats can be found at the city’s diverse music halls, from intimate clubs showcasing local talent to a 14,000-seat arena that’s hosted Bruce and Beyoncé.
The city’s top classical music venue, Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall is the place to hear the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra take on Tchaikovsky or Brahms. Marin Alsop, the first female music director of a major American orchestra, leads innovative programs like Off the Cuff, exploring the backstories of masterworks, and BSO Pulse, bringing indie rock bands to play with the classical musicians.
The recently renovated Modell Performing Arts Center at The Lyric hosts opera, ballet and big touring shows, such as Riverdance. You’ll also find nationally known recording artists like Brandi Carlile and Gavin DeGraw.
At Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood Campus, Shriver Hall features chamber music, including classical and newer works. The free Discovery Series showcases emerging artists.
LOCAL AND INDIE
The divey atmosphere at the Ottobar is part of its charm, as is the people-watching at this haven for the indie/ hipster crowd. Come early to shoot a round of pool, and head to the balcony for the best views of the stage.
An intimate spot in Federal Hill, The 8x10 is one of the best places to catch local bands, as well as some bigger names. The two floors offer good views from all vantage points and a bar on each level.
POP, ROCK AND RAP
Downtown Baltimore’s Ram’s Head Live! has hosted some of the biggest names in the biz, including Jay Z and the Beastie Boys, plus notable indie acts. The two-story venue offers great sightlines regardless of where you stand, but some like to get there early to snag a spot on the balcony, directly over the stage.
Near Power Plant Live!, Baltimore Soundstage has featured rock, rap, soul and acoustic artists, both emerging and wellknown performers such as Pete Yorn and India Arie. It houses three bars and offers sandwiches and pub grub.
Royal Farms Arena has welcomed chart toppers like Justin Timberlake, Bruce Springsteen and Beyoncé. In the heart of downtown, the arena is close to parking garages, restaurants and the light rail.
In warm months, fans head to the Inner Harbor’s Pier Six Pavilion for waterfront views along with well-known acts like Stevie Wonder and James Taylor.
WORLD AND ECLECTIC
A multipurpose art space, Creative Alliance hosts world music, such as Indian Bhangra, Central Asian throat singers and Balinese Gamelan, plus fiddlers, jazz, folk, blues and other genres. For more details on these venues, see pages 32-33.
British punk band The Adicts at Ottobar
Pier Six Pavilion
BSO at The Meyerhoff