Portland Love: Downtown Music Venues
January 24th, 2014 by BESWOON
Portland is known as a quirky and offbeat city with a vibrant arts and music scene that rivals cities across the country. Just walking down Congress Street in downtown Portland proves that we have more art galleries and independent music venues than most cities twice it’s size.
And the variety of venues is wide enough for even the pickiest music aficionado to find something they’ll love. The styles range from tiny jazz bars to a renovated 1,700 seat performance theater and everything in between; all within a few blocks of the downtown arts district.
The reopening of Empire after a brief hiatus brought a major surge to the downtown music scene. In particular the revitalization of the midweek live music show. Enjoy a great dim sum meal at the downstairs restaurant and then head up the stairs for a who’s who of the local music scene. The venue frequently hosts local weekly shows like Wednesday night Clash of the Titans and Salsa Night every First Friday of the month.
This low-key wine bar hosts some of the best jazz and bluegrass acts. Talented artists are known to stop through this small venue as they travel on extended East Coast tours. It is a go-to option for indecisive couples who want a sure thing for a great time and good music. It makes for a lovely date night spot.
3. State Theater
This is quickly becoming an epicenter of the New England music scene. National music acts are extending tours to visit the fully-renovated theater because of it’s unique setting with an incredible sound system and an intimate live show experience. Even the Black Keys have named it as one of their favorite place to play shows.
4. SPACE Gallery
If you want to know who the coolest Brooklyn bands are before they are written up on Pitchfork or Aquarium Drunkard, start showing up for anything and everything at SPACE Gallery. The music venue doubles as an alternative art space. Depending on the current resident artist you may be watching your favorite band surrounded by gorgeous pieces of modern art, or standing in an enchanted forest or futuristic existential art installation. With cheap beer, incredible art and the best of national alternative musicians, this place has a loyal local following. And in Maine, it is understood that you should always trust the locals.
5. One Longfellow Square
This small theater prides themselves on great sound and a sophisticated live music experience. If getting wasted and moshing isn’t your thing, come to a show at 1 Longfellow. They bring in world renowned traditional music, jazz and blues artists and singer/songwriters that you won’t hear anywhere else. The comfortable theater has consistently the best sounding bands for audiophiles who want to hear the details in the music.
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