Grand Central

Remember the tail end of the 2000s, back when Miami was clamoring for any midsize live music venue to open? Really, when we didn't have a single one and had to drive to Fort Lauderdale for our indie music fix? Even in those dark days, we couldn't have imagined how profoundly downtown's Grand Central would answer our prayers. Grand Central has committed itself not only to showcasing live acts that would have never even considered Miami as a stop on their U.S. tours five years ago, but also to providing a common ground for our unique homegrown melting pot of musical tastes. The international talent gracing Grand Central's stage has included everything from indie Latin showstoppers like Los Amigos Invisibles to '80s legends like A Flock of Seagulls and hip-hop biggies like Cypress Hill. But perhaps most important, the venue continues to provide our hard-knock local musicians with a much-needed launching pad for the exposure they simply won't find anywhere else in town. Welcome to the future, Miami music-heads — thanks to Grand Central, it looks a hell of a lot better than the past.

Jazid

Miami Beach doesn't have a lot of small live music spaces. And no, drunk people singing karaoke at Studio at the Shelborne doesn't count. But if one spot has consistently impressed as a live music haven in South Beach, it's Jazid. Rarely do local bands cross the causeway to play live on the barrier island, but when they do, most go to perform at the bohemian space. From Lanzallamas to Jahfe to Spam Allstars to Suenalo, most local acts favor this cozy room as the go-to place to perform live on the Beach. Who can blame them? The bar has a fiercely loyal local clientele and a prime location on Washington Avenue, which attracts tourists looking for a good time. Jazid proves one thing: Even Miami Beach wants a break from the DJs and bottle service from time to time, especially when the alternative is a consistently great lineup of local musicians.

Gramps
Photo by Alex Markow

"Air conditioning. Cold beer. Cocktails." Those words grace the façade of Wynwood's newest bar, Gramps. Sure, it's nice and cold inside, and yes, there is plenty of Tecate and PBR to go around, and indeed, the expertly crafted cocktails are worth bragging about. But the sign is missing a key element: "Live music." Because there is plenty of that here too. Since December 2012, Miami's indie music scene has had a new place to belt out tunes in front of a willing audience. Local outfits such as Jacuzzi Boys, Dim Past, Beat Machines, Cop City Chill Pillars, Holly Hunt, and the Dewars have all graced the outdoor stage or backroom. And even national acts like Kool Keith and Lars Finberg of the Intelligence have stopped by. Considering that Gramps has been open only since last year's Art Basel, there's a great chance Miami will see even better live shows here in months to come. There's no better combination in town than drinking a signature Penicillin cocktail and feeling some rock bass rumbling your ear canals.

The Station

It's not often we see an authentic underground club take off in Miami. Most local nightclubs, even the big-money commercial spots in Miami Beach, end up being flashes in the pan with shelf lives shorter than a ripe avocado. But downtown Miami's the Station reeked of underground vibes right from the start. Introduced as an "art-lounge/restaurant" concept by owners Alex Saladrigas and David Silverman when opened in November 2012, it soon became apparent that people weren't flocking there simply to eat and look at paintings. Within a couple of months, word on the street was that the Station was the hottest new after-hours club in Miami — a speakeasy-like secret destination for die-hard revelers looking to keep the party going past last call, a place to catch international techno stars such as Seth Troxler and Guy Gerber playing intimate, impromptu after-hours sets announced last-minute and by word of mouth. Of course, the secret was bound to get out by the time Winter Music Conference and Miami Music Week rolled around, with the venue hosting a number of high-profile parties. No matter how big the Station might get in 2013, it has already made an indelible mark on Miami's underground dance music scene.

Story Nightclub
Liliana Mora

After Amnesia's "comeback" fizzled out, Miami Marketing Group took hold of the Bob Sinclar-fronted club and shut it down for a couple of months, promising a complete overhaul. MMG kept its word, reopening the spot as Story — a name that earned some early mockery that quickly disappeared once the bookings began pouring in. Everyone from Avicii to Luciano to Seth Troxler have gotten behind the decks. The caliber of DJs has been spectacular and risky. Story seems to book a mega-wattage DJ one night and bring in an underground maestro the next. Though there's plenty of SoBe bottle service to be had, it's the risky "downtown attitude" and corresponding musical approach that have set Story apart. Trust us, this is a D-A-N-C-E club if there ever was one. Skip the couch real estate and the pricey bottles and get your ass into the pit directly in front of the DJ booth.

Will Call

Only in Miami can you find a 24-hour sports bar that doubles as a downtown after-hours spot. Sure, you can go to other 24-hour establishments and listen to world-class DJs pump it until an ungodly hour. But honestly, most sane human beings still partying at 6 a.m. only care about keeping that sweet buzz going — DJs be damned! Will Call is the perfect spot for that. There is no loud, heart-palpitating music to distract you from what really matters the most: the drinks. And once you feel ready to black out, just ask to see the menu, because food is served until 7 a.m. Sure, you might not always remember precisely what you ate or drank after leaving Will Call, but your friends will tell you the truth: You had a blast. Take their word for it.

Sure, Miami Beach is home to some of the world's best nightclubs, but somewhere along the way, that neighborhood forgot what nightlife has always been about: the music. And a relentless focus on the latest and buzziest in dance music is exactly what the selection of venues in mainland Miami now excels at. Of course, the giant of downtown and Park West's nightlife scene will always be Space (34 NE 11th St.). Even with that megaclub under new management, there's no reason to expect this dance music mecca to go anywhere. Then there's Grand Central (697 N. Miami Ave.), the city's premier midsize live music venue, along with its upstairs sister, the Garret, which host club nights favored by the city's hipsterati. And don't forget Mekka (950 NE Second Ave.), which breaks off into several smaller venues including popular gay hot spot Discotekka. Or perhaps you're looking for an after-hours drink: The Corner (1035 N. Miami Ave.) is the best option for a 6 a.m. nightcap. There's even proof the district is ready for rebirth with the recent addition of Therapy (60 NE 11th St.) and the remodeling of Goldrush (29 NE 11th St.), which should be back up and running later this year. Thanks to a special zone carved out by commissioners, the whole hood can operate 24 hours a day — the best foundation for a nightlife monster sure to be pulsating for years to come.

SL Miami
WorldRedEye.com

To say SL Miami is cozy is like saying LeBron James is kinda popular in Dade County. This bar is small in every sense of the word. That's why getting in can be somewhat challenging. You better be beautiful, rich, famous, a combination of all three, or hanging out with LeBron himself. With space at a premium, SL Miami can afford to be selective. Wedged into the James Royal Palm, it's an outpost of Manhattan's Meatpacking District lounge of the same name. Catch Miami, the über-chic restaurant inside the James, is situated nearby. And with so many of Miami's beautiful people and visiting jet-setters already stopping by for a bite to eat, SL has become the sort of VIP room where matters of whether someone will be going to Saint Barts for the winter and the Hamptons for the summer can be overheard in normal conversation. There's a small bar serving (expensive!) drinks, but here it's all about the bottle service. (Any other way and you're doing it wrong.) Hey, no one said the VIP lifestyle is cheap.

The Opium Group has spent the past few months on a renovation spree worthy of its own HGTV show. First was Mansion, which received an impressive and much-needed face-lift that turned it into a 360-degree theater of debauchery. Then, earlier this year, the nightlife conglomerate announced that its ultra-lounge, Set, would be the next property to go under the knife. When it returned in time for Miami Music Week 2013, it had a fresh, new look, including a Zevs-inspired logo, that emphasized the nightclub's strongest attribute: VIP bottle service. Before you write it off as another elitist lounge, though, read on. Set was never really a dance club — there is no dance floor — and the awkward positioning of the DJ booth toward the front of the house was always a bit off-putting. But the redesign moved the booth toward the back and installed an impressive LED backdrop. Geometric designs jut from the walls, while graphic illustrations of half-naked women tower above the room. The new design gives the room a more "punk" feel without losing its opulence. The space also feels smaller, creating a more intimate bottle-service ambiance, which means unless you're seated at a table, you won't enjoy the full Set experience. For that, the Opium Group seems to be making no excuses. And unlike other South Beach megaclubs where table service and dance floors awkwardly coexist, the new Set is dead-set on providing a VIP experience like no other. Did it succeed? The large bill and subsequent hangover say yes.

Miami is the land of 10,000 titty bars. But G5ive Gentlemen's Club isn't just another full-nudity bump 'n' grind joint. With "over 100 beautiful women every night," models with bottles, pro ballers, and famous hosts such as 305 rapper Ice Billion Berg, ATL dope boy Lil Scrappy, and retired exotic-dancing diva Tip Drill, this North Miami Beach strip club has become the preferred nudie spot for bosses and wannabes with a taste for big booties, party rap, premium liquor, private lap dances, and Southern cookin'. Watch silver-G-stringed asses drop from the ceiling like it's New Year's Eve. Snatch up the mike and shout down the fakes. Guzzle Hennessy in the VIP with a lady on each leg. Scrub yourself while sudsy babes perform a rub-a-dub show in G5ive's indoor shower. Order breakfast for two (fried chicken and Belgian waffles with a side of vanilla ice cream) at the bar. Go hard. Go wild. Go broke. Get G5ive'd.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®