Being in a band, a lot of people ask me where to go to see live music in Boston. To me, Boston is pretty underestimated as far as the music scene goes. We get an enormous amount of nationally touring headlining acts, talented local original bands, and scores of awesome local cover bands. I think people forget how many big name acts either started or were cultivated in Beantown but a few that come to mind include Aerosmith, Pixies, Godsmack, Might Mighty Bosstones, Guster, Powerman 5000, Extreme, and our namesake, Boston. For a full list, head over to Ranker.com and check out their list of bands from Boston by rank. With small to medium venues like The Sinclair breathing some new life into the scene, the future looks a little brighter. But how about cover venues? Well, if you're looking for venues with cover bands in Boston, you're in the right city. From Boston, to Somerville, to Cambridge, you can take your pick. In this post, I'll give you a quick run down of some of my favorite venues, as they are today.
With so many bars and clubs in Boston, it's hard to narrow it down. If you're looking for live music and want to hear a bunch of fun songs that you know, I highly recommend these venues.
Whiskey Priest, South Boston
What Whiskey Priest lacks in stage and overall set up for live bands, it makes up for with some of the best live cover bands around. They pay their bands well and therefore are able to attract some of the heavy hitters in the in Boston cover scene. The location is great and the roof deck is a key selling point for many of the patrons (just don't be surprised if you wait in reasonably long line to get up there on a busy night). However, if it's live music you're after, there's a small dance floor area and plenty of space to stand and watch and listen to the band. With an upscale atmosphere and fantastic behind the bar service, Whiskey Priest is a sure bet if you're in the Seaport district. Be prepared to pay a $10 cover, well worth it for the quality of the venue.
The Bell in Hand Tavern, Fanueil Hall area, Boston
The Bell in Hand is the oldest bar in Boston and it's not going anywhere, for multiple reasons. It maintains its' reputation for having live music every night from Wednesday to Sunday (with acoustic music every Sunday afternoon as well). With new renovations, The Bell has made some great improvements to their dining area. They have a small stage with lighting for the band and the dance floor is always packed. They sell enormous beers and have reasonably priced food and cocktails. Be prepared to pay a cover and to have an awesome time!
Ned Devines, Fanueil Hall, Boston
A friend described Ned Devines to me as, "the Tinder of bars". I don't know about all that but I do know it's considered one of the best live music venues in downtown Boston. With some of the premeire bands from around Boston in the rotation, you are guaranteed to catch a great act almost every night. They have reasonably priced drinks and awesome bartenders and as with above, they do charge a cover for the pleasure of your company.
Lansdowne Pub, Fenway, Boston
This is far and away one of my favorite places to see a band as well as perform. Get there early! There is almost always a line stretching up the street to the House of Blues. They have a nice stage area and fantastic security. With an in-house sound engineer, the sound quality is usually outstanding. Depsite being one of the most consistently busy bars in all of Boston, they have about a billion (literally...a billion) bartenders working and several bars. It is unlikely you will wait longer than a few minutes for a drink. They do charge a cover but it well worth the $5. I recommend showing up a little early to skip the line (pre 10pm).
The Burren, Davis Square, Somerville
Ask any 21+ college student or twenty something where to go for cover bands in the Cambridge or Somerville area, I would bet you a family of feral kittens that one of the first things out of his or her mouth will be, "Oh my god, HAVE YOU BEEN TO BURREN!?!?". Now this is a fair question to ask because The Burren in Davis Square totally rocks. They have an outstanding line up of pro cover bands who pack the house every weekend. They have live folk, celtic, and original music as well as open mics. They even have a comedy open mic.
So there you have it. Those are my picks for live music venues in Boston. There are plenty of other great places to go check out bands including Hennessy's, The Green Dragon, Paris, The Tap, The Harp, the MBTA...But seriously, there are too many to name. The picks above are just a handful of my favorite places. I encourage you to go check them out and see for yourself. I'm sure you will find that place that just fits you, one that might not even be on this list. My band plays at a few of these bars and we'd love it if you came and checked out a show there sometime, whether it's us or another band.