9 Best Clubs in Boston for Rock, Jazz, Hip Hop, and More

9 Best Clubs in Boston for Rock, Jazz, Hip Hop, and More

ANDThe Boston area has produced a long line of world-class musicians—from Aerosmith to New Edition to the next generation being trained at Berklee—so it’s no surprise that our music venues are brimming with talent. From community venues featuring local musicians to hallowed rock and hip-hop halls, there’s never a shortage of opportunities for those seeking great live music in venues more intimate than arenas (though if you’re looking for nightclubs, we’ve got you covered, too).

Brighton Music Hall

Brighton Music Hall. Sophie Park for the Boston Globe

Established in 2010 in the space long occupied by Harpers Ferry, Brighton Music Hall has been bringing rock, roots, hip-hop and other acts to the heart of Allston ever since. The 500-person standing-room-only venue—big enough to make it lively, small enough for everyone to have a view—is an ideal stop for national acts who have outgrown more intimate venues and are on their way to bigger things.


158 Brighton Avenue, Allston

City Winery

City Winery. Nathan Klima for the Boston Globe

Equal parts wine bar and concert venue, City Winery is a treat for both the palate and the ear. At this 300-seat venue, the music is wide-ranging, spanning R&B, jazz, alternative rock, hip-hop and more. Enjoy shared plates of risotto dumplings and duck tacos, as well as pizza during the show; table service means you never have to leave your seat to order another glass. It’s the best of both worlds for music lovers.


80 Beverly Street, West End

Crystal Ballroom at the Somerville Theatre

Crystal Room at the Somerville Theatre. Dylan Ladd

Opened in 2021, this recent addition to Somerville’s live music scene occupies an upstairs corner of the Somerville Theater, which for years served as two small movie theaters. With a chic chandelier and a large, welcoming bar, the room has become a destination for indie rock, world music, and alternative comedy.


55 Davis Square, Somerville

The jungle

The jungle. Martin Lightfoot

With a capacity of just 85, The Jungle’s footprint may be small, but its roar resonates far beyond Union Square. The Somerville indie club is an affordable gateway into Boston’s music scene for artists and patrons alike, with offerings ranging from monthly “Bars Over Bars 1st Sundays” hip-hop showcases to lineups packed with classics from the area’s rock scene. Don’t miss the lively free karaoke and open mic on Wednesdays.


6 Sanborn Court, Somerville

The lily

The lily leaf. Aram Boghosian for the Boston Globe

More performance space than club, The Lilypad has a standing capacity of 80 (60 seated). But the mural-decorated space is home to some of the area’s best jazz and cutting-edge improvised music, serving as a home base for local masters like saxophonists George Garzone (with The Fringe) and Jerry Bergonzi; and hosting notable New York musicians as well as estimable locals.


1353 Cambridge Street, Cambridge

The Middle East

The Middle East. Jim Davis/Globe Team

Once a favorite haunt of Boston music luminaries like Billy Ruane and Morphine’s Mark Sandman, Central Square’s Middle East remains a hub of the area’s live music scene. There’s been talk of demolishing the complex and building a hotel with performance spaces, but for now, it’s the same intimate Upstairs and larger Downstairs, and a wide range of venues, including rock and hip-hop.


472-480 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge

Paradise Rock Club

Paradise Rock Club. Nathan Klima for the Boston Globe

The Police, REM, and U2 all played the Paradise before they made it to the arena scene. Its prominent tent along the B branch of the Green Line has since featured thousands of beloved bands, both indie and future superstars. The fact that this no-frills venue is still thriving is a testament to Boston’s ever-growing rock ‘n’ roll fan base.


967 Commonwealth Avenue, Allston

The Sinclair

The Sinclair. Ben Stas for the Boston Globe

Part of the constellation of venues operated by Bowery Presents, the Sinclair can host around 500 music lovers of all types most nights of the week. Its wraparound balcony offers plenty of sightlines for a compact space. Since opening in Harvard Square in 2012, the club has hosted a steady stream of well-known acts, from Yola to Yo La Tengo.


52 Church Street, Cambridge

Wally’s Jazz Club Café

Wally’s Café Jazz Club. Barry Chin/Globe Team

The history of Wally’s dates back to 1947, when Joseph “Wally” Walcott opened Wally’s Paradise across the street from the Jazz Club’s current location in the South End, then the epicenter of a thriving Boston jazz scene. The lineup included Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, and Dizzy Gillespie. Wally’s, still owned by Walcott’s family, is a rarity today: a neighborhood jazz bar featuring local heavyweights as well as future student stars.


427 Massachusetts Avenue, South End

The 2024 Boston Globe Best of the Best winners were selected by Globe editorial staff and correspondents, and limited to Boston, Cambridge, Somerville and Brookline. We’d like to hear from you: Are your favorites on the list??