Music isn’t just a sound; it’s a lifestyle and that sentiment rings especially true in the magical city of Orlando. Our moods change regularly and often, so do our music tastes! Maybe today you want to sit back and tap your foot to some acoustic jams, but maybe tomorrow you want to thrash around and play some nasty air guitar. The city of Orlando has venues where you can accomplish either of those acts, and then some!
Whether your love of music stems from the sound box of a Victrola, or the intricately designed headphones of an MP3 player, there are enough live music hangouts around the town to satisfy everyone.
1.) The Social: 54 N. Orange Ave (407.246.1419)
Unfailingly voted a favorite live-music venue by locals and critics alike, anything goes at The Social. With its casual and cozy vibe, this intimate space draws an eclectic crowd of music junkies. Be it pop, rock, folk, metal, blues or reggae, The Social not only hosts local favorites, but big-name acts including: Purity Ring, The Neighborhood, and Sufjan Stevens. Ideal venues for music lovers typically consist of two things: An unpretentious atmosphere and top of the line sound. The Social brings both of these factors to the table, along with proficient barkeeps to quench your thirst while you’re belting along to your favorite tune. Maybe singing along to live music isn’t really your forte, but maybe dancing along to the beat is; DJ Frankie brings Salsa Sunday’s just for you! While he’s spinning his special dance records, you’ll be spinning your special dance partner! There is no way anyone could leave this venue unsatisfied.
2.) The Plaza Live: 425 N. Bumby Ave (407.228.1220)
What was once Orlando’s first ever 2-screen premiere movie theater back in 1963 is now Orlando’s premiere live concert venue. The Plaza Live is home to two music halls: The Main Hall and The Small Room, which each call for different artists and bands. The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra purchased The Plaza Live building and business for a whopping 3.4 million dollars back in 2013 and is currently working on extensive renovations to update the 1,000-seat music hall so they can maintain their schedule of rock, jazz, and contemporary music events. If you’re looking to see household spoken band names as Rick Springfield, Edgar Winter, Styx, or Joe Bonamassa, The Main Hall is your place to revive those records collecting dust in your garage. Maybe current indie-rock bands are more your pace; in which case, The Small Room is a perfect fit. Iron & Wine, Grace Potter, and City and Colour have graced that stage with its new acoustic treatment, making their gritty guitar sounds bounce from wall to wall. Before, during and after the upgrades, Orlando and its visitors anticipate more grand performances.
3.) Venue 578: N. Orange Ave (407.872.0066)
Internationally acclaimed Orlando staple, Venue 578, features a multidimensional entertainment facility that networks together world-renowned talent, radical production and impeccable sound design. Formerly referred to as Firestone Live, Venue 578 has revived and carried out the lush history of its namesake – with a delicious twist. After all, it isn’t every day you see an industrial factory completely transformed into a multimillion-dollar entertainment complex – no less, one that has been acclaimed as one of the “freshest nightclubs in the world” by not only Billboard Magazine, but fortnightly Rolling Stone as well. Venue 578 has concocted a legendary line up of National and International rap/hip-hop acts including: Lil Wayne, Busta Rhymes, Snoop Dogg, Ice T, along with chart topping DJs, The Crystal Method and Girl Talk; and for you progressive metal heads out there: Cannibal Corpse and Animals as Leaders. With well over 20,000 square feet for you to get low or mosh, the sky is the limit for any event.
4.) Tanqueray’s: 100 S. Orange Ave (407.649.8540)
If you’re one for quaintly decorated, intimate spaces where the strum of the guitar and the reverb from the amp bounces between walls, Tanqueray’s is your nifty little “underground” home away from home. Once you take a dive down the rabbit hole-esque winding staircase, you’ll immediately find yourself lost in another dimension, completely immersed in pure and primal music, seemingly played just for you. Tanqueray’s eccentric decorations and visuals are what some city-folk are drawn to, but others pop by for the familiar staffers and inexpensive “shaken, not stirred” cocktails. Whatever reason you choose to fall down the rabbit hole, be it a nightcap or some mouthwatering “midnight snack” appetizers, you’ll always be in the company of some of Orlando’s signature local musicians.
5.) BackBooth: 37 W. Pine St (407.999.2570)
If you prefer slamming back shots of Jack to wafting glasses of fine wines, Backbooth is the venue for you. In its time on the downtown scene, its reputation as a music venue has flourished to being named one of the best live music venues in the city and still boasts the most notable draft selection in the downtown area, according to Orlando Weekly. While the capacity only holds 350 people on their balcony and back bar area, those selective few are exposed to a sizeable stage, with an intoxicating sound and light system. While the visuals are prodigious, the club is still able to maintain a very comfortable, some would say pub-like atmosphere with their Old English décor of dark woodwork and curtains throughout. When entering Backbooth, you should expect the warm embrace of only searing guitars and thunderous double bass drums as they play host to many local and national sludge-metal bands as Agnostic Front and Have Mercy. While the norm here usually consists of face melting bands, don’t be surprised if you walk into an acoustic folk set, or a dance party! Whether it’s for a stimulating rock show, an intimate live performance, or a night of drinks and dancing, Backbooth is established in the Orlando community as a desired destination.