The rise and fall of some of Miami’s beloved music venues is a sensitive subject. Music fans will forever mourn the loss of Grand Central, Studio A, the Vagabond, Will Call, Tobacco Road, the Stage, and many others. But we are hopeful that Miami’s current stages will fill the gaping void.
Then there are the lesser-known spots, some of the 305’s uncharted territory.
Here are the five best music venues in Miami you might have overlooked. They all warrant a visit.
1. Olympia Theater
174 E. Flagler St., Miami; 305-374-2444; olympiatheater.org
In the heart of downtown Miami stands a 91-year-old relic that’s a link to Miami’s past. Opened in 1926 as a silent-movie palace, this historic theater embodies Miami glamour. Take just one step inside and you can instantly feel the venue's rich past. Elvis Presley, B.B. King, and Etta James have performed here. With its twinkling night-sky ceiling, opulent decor, and red velvet curtains, this theater drips elegance. Watching a concert here is nothing short of majestic. The Olympia Theater hosts a wide variety of events, from live music performances to film festivals. There are great acoustics and comfortable tiered seating, so wherever you sit guarantees an epic experience. In recent years, some incredible acts have graced the Olympia stage, such as Sufjan Stevens, Kraftwerk, Neutral Milk Hotel, and the Jesus & Mary Chain. Parking in downtown Miami isn’t the most pleasant experience, so take Metromover.
2. North Beach Bandshell
7275 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 786-453-2897; northbeachbandshell.com
Located in the North Shore Historic District of Miami Beach, this outdoor, family-friendly venue has experienced a serious resurgence. When we think about the impressive roster of bands that have rolled through this venue over the past few years, not to mention the stacked music festivals in the past couple of months, we’re ecstatic. Fair warning: The Bandshell does not run on Miami time. According to the site’s renter’s information packet, the venue has a strict curfew, and all events must finish by 10 p.m. But if you ask us, that’s not a bad thing. Because shows start early, you can appreciate the breathtaking backdrop of palm trees swaying in the cool ocean breeze and take part in a sunset dance party. For certain events, a stage is set up on the beach. If you’re like us and must have ten feet of personal space around you at all times, the Bandshell is for you.
709 NE 79th St., Miami; 305-757-3368; theandersonmiami.com
There’s an undeniable bliss in experiencing live music in an intimate setting. Sure, you might have to get a little close to the sweaty dude next to you, but sometimes you just have to embrace it. With its small stage and cozy standing room, the Anderson is the spot to enjoy live music up close and personal. This unique Upper Eastside oasis hosts a variety of live music acts, from jazz to indie rock. While you’re waiting for the show to begin, take a seat at one of the red booths and grab a bite and a cocktail. Inside the bar, there’s a fun '80s vibe going on with all types of memorabilia. For the terminally chill, don’t miss the quirky Caribbean-themed back patio, where you can dip your toes in the sand. Just bring your Dirt Devil to get the sand out of your car.
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337 SW Eighth St., Miami; 786-703-6973; sidebarmiami.com
If you listen closely enough, you can hear the dominoes of Calle Ocho’s Domino Park clanking in the distance. Situated next to a brightly lit soccer field between Little Havana and Brickell, Sidebar sits in an unsuspecting location that adds to its allure. If you’ve pissed off Siri and her recommended route takes you through the hellish streets of Brickell, know that once you arrive, the trip will have been worth it. Sidebar’s proper stage and spacious interior host local and national acts ranging from indie to hip-hop. We know the struggle of having to stand in one spot while waiting an eternity for a band to take the stage. A place to sit before the show begins is a hot commodity. Not only does the impressive backyard offer plenty of benches, but it also boasts a food truck and a bar. Long live Sidebar.
5. Lucid Gallery
13331 SW 132nd Ave., Miami; facebook.com/lucidgallery
Far, far away in the depths of West Kendall, just past the chain restaurants you loathe, lies a hidden gem tucked into a warehouse near Tamiami Airport. Lucid Gallery showcases local artists and musicians at its highly anticipated bimonthly events. This venue is a haven for those who want to keep it cute in Kendall and not deal with the atrocity of Miami traffic. A real sense of community can be felt here, and it’s truly refreshing. With ample parking, great local bands, art, and good vibes, Lucid will forever be Kendall’s badge of pride. Dale.