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.

Where Baltimore - - Contents - BY JULEKHA DASH

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.


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.


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.


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

Cre­ative Al­liance

BSO at The Mey­er­hoff

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