Join Cleveland’s Music Scene This Winter
Go support a local band at the various amazing music venues within the greater Cleveland.
Written by Kayla Pocos
As winter approaches and lake effect begins to turn the days into shades of gray, us midwesterners tend to buckle down for hibernation. We’re used to responding to this dreary cold by going home to be warm, watch our shows and tuck ourselves away all nice and cozy, but not this time! Instead, we should go out and explore what’s going on in the Cleveland nightlife. The cold doesn’t stop the show (most of the time)! Start getting uncomfortable and go to the weird events hosted around town. An easy go-to is to check out several awesome live music spots. If you haven’t immersed yourself into the Cleveland music scene yet, there’s a lot to choose from. Midwest emo is a strong suit, but pop, R&B, rap, jazz, rock, indie — you name it, we’ve got it.
"We’re young! Go have fun while you can: start living a life filled with music and memories."
For the East-siders:
The Grog Shop
Located in Cleveland Heights, the Grog Shop is worth the drive. Hosting a lot of events for the punk scene, you’re sure to find fun. CSU’s School of Music is actually hosting a Pop Rock Show on Wednesday Nov. 1. Go support your fellow music-loving classmates and make some memories.
Severance Music Hall
If you’ve never experienced a live orchestra, you have to add it to your bucket list. Classical music evokes such intense emotion and in combination with the venue’s beautiful architecture, you’re sure to never forget this show. Students can join the venue’s Student Advantage Program to save money and get tickets to most Cleveland Orchestra shows for only $15!
The Agora and Beachland Ballroom battle it out for my favorite big concert spot. The Agora is where I saw my first (and one of my all-time favorite) shows, Ski Mask the Slump God, in November 2019, which was super epic.
In the more indie, New-Age scene, we have Beachland Ballroom. It’s a cool space and the crowd is usually full of ragers. They also have an awesome vintage shop in the basement, which I would recommend checking out before the drinks, because falling down those stairs is a humbling event.
The all-time best. If there’s a show here that looks interesting to you, go. Most nights, you do need to be 21 years old for entrance. The ambiance is as if Sam Levinson directed a movie about a dive bar. Even on nights when it’s dead, it’s still a vibe. When it’s lively, it’s like a 2016 house party on steroids. Personally, I love the techno and DJ dance party nights, but they do all sorts of events and host great shows that span all genres. Definitely check it out.
If you’re more towards downtown and Ohio City:
The House of Blues
A classic destination — you have to go at some point. They always have amazing sound and lighting. If you’re from Cleveland and you’ve never been to The House of Blues, are you really from Cleveland?
I registered to vote at CODA! My friends and I love this bar/music venue, and you don’t need to worry about being over 21 to get in for most shows. The environment is fun and people are always having a good time. They keep the party rolling with local and out-of-state bands, along with drag shows, open mic nights and stand-up.
Towards Lakewood, you’re most likely within a five-mile radius of a music venue already. Lakewoodites are huge supporters of the local music scene and if you take a stroll down Detroit Road or Madison Avenue on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night, you’ll be spoiled for choice.
Woman-owned No Class is a great spot for artistic and wild people. If you want to have fun with some friends check out their lively dance parties, local flea markets and celebrations of the dark arts! No Class has everything from Nintendo tournaments and open-mic and poetry nights to massive local talent showcases. There is always something awesome going on here and you need to check it out.
A classic. Getting a hotdog covered in Fruit Loops and washing it down with an ice-cold beer while listening to local bands sounds like a good night to me. Happy Dog is a good go-to when looking for weekend plans. They have great shows and it’s always a fun time.
The Foundry Concert Club
Heavy metal and rock are The Foundry’s forte. A great Goth and punk scene can be found here (of course with other genres and events as well) but if you want to experience a mosh pit you’ll think about into your forties, come check out The Foundry.
The Winchester Tavern
FYI, this is a 21+ bar. It’s in a great spot to go running around before or after. It has great lighting and sound, plus it’s always fun to see the stickers of all the bands that have been through on the walls. There’s Boozy Bingo every Wednesday — I hope to see you there!
Mahall’s (The Roxy at Mahall’s)
Classic, classic, classic. Pronounced “may-halls” (if no one from Lakewood hasn’t made that abundantly clear to you), this is the place that takes a lot of West-siders’ venue virginities. They have big names, small names, One Direction dance parties, bowling and beer — what else can you ask for?
The stretch of venues between Lakewood and Ohio City are all fun because there is so much nightlife in those areas. It might be cold, but think about the memories of you and your friends running around in the slush and snow, seeing a show. We’re young! Go have fun while you can: start living a life filled with music and memories.
The younger Cleveland nightlife scene is a bit sparse at times. We need to start interacting with fellow weirdos out on the town and filling these venues, because that’s what makes them fun. Start pulling up to whatever DJ Dinkle and enjoying whatever set they might whip out. Who knows, you might leave with a new appreciation for some retro-electro-nintendocore music. You never know unless you go. In conclusion, folks, there’s fun to be had. Put on your coats and catch a local band this weekend.