Downtown BaltimoreMusic

Where to Hear Baltimore’s Favorite Local Bands

Ottobar Baltimore

The Ottobar plays host to both beloved local acts and national names. Photo credit: Kevin Hulse


From jazz clubs to symphony halls, Baltimore has no shortage of music venues. But if your goal is to hear some of the city’s best local bands, it helps to have a little know-how about Baltimore’s thriving live music scene. We’ve narrowed down the list to help you navigate from Hotel Indigo Baltimore Downtown to the bar rooms, clubs and other venues where you can hear the next best thing in Baltimore and beyond.

The Ottobar2549 N Howard St
Consistently named the best rock club in town by readers of the Baltimore City Paper, the Ottobar plays host to beloved local acts — like Beach House and Wye Oak — along with national names like the Black Lips, Vetiver and American Authors. Dark with a decidedly divey atmosphere, it has both upstairs and downstairs stages, with a different vibe for each.

Sidebar218 E Lexington St
This little all-ages venue specializes in punk, hardcore, indie and metal acts, with a sprinkling of comedy for good measure. Open since 1998, it’s been known to get a bit raucous, whether it’s during happy hour, stand-up open mic night, or a show by local all-girl punk band Wet Brain.

The Windup Space12 W North Ave
Fun fact: The stage at the Windup Space is a replica of the Black Lodge stage on cult classic Twin Peaks. (Now you know, in case it looks familiar.) Besides movie screenings, pizza parties, game nights and a monthly dance party called Four Hours of Funk, the venue also hosts bands from a diverse array of genres, from psychedelic and jazz to surf noir.

The 8×1010 East Cross St
You’ll find a mix of folk, rock, soul and jam bands at this intimate space located in a distinctive purple building in Federal Hill. There’s a U-shaped balcony that gives a bird’s-eye view of the stage, where local and touring acts perform several times a week.

Metro Gallery, 1700 N Charles St
This low-key performance space has a gallery vibe thanks to plentiful art on the walls from emerging artists. Likewise, the stage has seen performances from local up-and-comers like The Henchmen along with nationally known bands like The Dismemberment Plan, Dirty Projectors and Baltimore’s own Future Islands.

The Crown, 1910 N Charles St
Head up to the second floor of a nondescript office building to find this no-frills club that books mostly underground local acts like Sweepstakes, Echo Hey Hello and Faults. Also stop by for comedy open mic night, karaoke and some pretty good Korean food.

Baltimore Soundstage124 Market Pl
Although they typically book national bands — including rock, neo-soul, EDM, hip-hop, metal and more — you can occasionally catch on-the-rise Baltimoreans performing at this spacious venue. Earlier this month, rapper Tate Kobang (whose hit song “Bank Rolls” you may have heard) was a headliner.

The Red Room425 E 31st St
This volunteer-run space headquartered at Normals Books & Records is the place to go if you like experimental music — or just music that defies categorization. Calling itself a “laboratory for paracultural revolution of the Mid-Atlantic region,” the venue hosts avant-garde musicians from Baltimore and elsewhere.