Your Miami itinerary probably looks a lot like this: soak up the sun, then drink (and/or dance) the night away. While that’s often a foolproof plan, there’s more to the Magic City than just gorgeous beaches and nightclubs. Take the live music scene, which spoils locals rotten with fabulous shows virtually every night of the week. From local bands playing intimate spaces to established acts selling out concert halls, Miami’s got plenty of venues to get your fix of instrumentals. If you’ve got a penchant for performances, you might want to plan your trip around November for Miami Live month, when venues all over the city offer promotions in the name of great music. And while Miami has a rep for being expensive, plenty of local music venues offer gratis entertainment—all you have to bring is yourself (drinks are extra).
The intimate Jackie Gleason Theater at the Fillmore Miami Beach can house thousands of music fans, yet you still feel as if the center stage act is there just for you. Purple-hued chandeliers and red velvet curtains play up The Fillmore’s racy interior and add just a touch of whimsy. The sound system is equally psychedelic, which is probably why Lana Del Rey, The XX, M83, Pretty Lights, and Jack White have all made tour stops in this Miami landmark.
The Design District venue is every hipsters dream: Bearing no sign, it’s not a place you simply stumble upon. No, everyone is here for a reason, and most often the reason is music. Don’t be alarmed if your body pulsates while you’re here — that’s just the sound system. Make sure to check their calendar—it’s filled with everything from local bands and DJs to recognizable names hosting album release parties or low-key birthday bashes.
The Regent Cocktail Club
The piano at The Regent isn’t just there for embellishment — it gets played nightly. Everyone in this speakeasy plays their part, such as the elegant bartenders outfitted in fedoras, mixing and stirring handcrafted cocktails, to the sultry jazz singers who croon in the intimate 1920s-style lounge. Located in the Gale Hotel, there’s a rotating selection of live music, Thursday through Sunday.
Miami’s most rocking venue has been around since 1979. Where else can you do your laundry (Churchill’s has a laundry room open to clients), grab a bite, and watch some sports, all while listening to tunes by local bands and evolving names in music (including, once upon a time, Marilyn Manson)? Nowhere but Churchill’s.
Reggae, jazz, hip-hop—you name it, The Stage will stage it. This Design District spot evokes the same chilled-out feeling you get when walking into a local coffee shop— except there’s no coffee, and several bars instead. There are no muffins or scones, either, but a food truck in the back patio, or special brownies passed out by the band, gets the job done. The center stage is visible from every corner of the venue, and it’s a favorite among local talent looking to showcase their skills, as well as Bones Thugs and Harmony, when they come into town.