Show Me the Music! Where to go...
In Boston. How to get there: take the Red Line to Park Street and switch to the Green Line. Take either the B, C or D line (i.e. any Green Line train but the Heath Street E line) to Kenmore. Exit and you'll be on Commonwealth Avenue, near some rundown shops and across from a Gap (on your right). Follow the street to Brookline Avenue, around the corner, passing by a McDonald's and a BankBoston. Continue forward over a bridge and highway I-90, where Fenway Park looms in the distance. Cross the bridge and go past a Gold's gym; the next street is Landsdowne, on your left.
15 Landsdowne St.
Newly remodeled! Avalon is a concert club (They Might Be Giants, the Beta Band, Cheap Trick, Guided By Voices, and Edwin McCain have played there) and a dance club all rolled into one. Visiting DJs spin occasionally on Fridays and Saturdays. The new Avalon is chic beige and streamlined architecture, with backlit alcohol glowing by the bar. Sadly, its infamous second-story bar that was perfect for scoping the floor for hotties is now located on the first floor. But fear not; Avalon is still home to excellent dance music and glamorous patrons. Wear black or the hippest clubbing attire and you can't go wrong.
13 Lansdowne St.
The sound is good, the space is wide and the lights blink and flash, but Axis ultimately exudes the air of a dive, an image which, to be fair, must be intentional. It's dank with low ceilings, rendering it perfect for the hardcore fans of the cutting-edge acts shipped here from Europe and Japan. Many of dance music's big names played here while they were still perched before the edge of Rolling Stone stardom. Good shows, unfortunately, aren't always listed. Look for flyers (try Boston Beat Imports on Newbury St.), or call. Abercrombie and Fitch types won't fit in.
55 Lansdowne St.
There are so many techno/house/blahblah boxes on Lansdowne that Bill's Bar stands out most as a live music venue. The stage takes, well, centerstage in a room plastered with rock n' roll obituaries. The new big thing here is Monsta Mondays, featuring local and touring old school rock bands. This continues the tradition started in the now defunct Mama Kin. Sundays feature reggae and Underground Thursdays dish up anything alternative. Everybody's a friend here. Talk to any of the staff, all of whom belong to one band or another, to find out what's going on in the underground.
Jazz, Folk, Blues
47 Palmer St.,
Not enough people realize the cool music that goes on in this basement hovel. Club Passim looks like a tame cafe, but it is an institution. It's where big names like Joan Baez and Bob Dylan got started, and it continues to draw top folk, bluegrass and special acts. Many a night also find the place packed elbow-to-elbow with kids from school (mostly the a cappella crowd) when Harvard's own amazing talents take the stage.
House of Blues
96 Winthrop St.,
A shrine to the Mississippi Delta region, this original branch of what is now a six-branch chain is decked out with cool Southern artwork and brought to life by premiere blues performers from all over the country. The space is built like an ark, so those from the middle to the back can see nothing. The age limit is a problem, but maybe the assumption is that you need to get some dirt on your hands before you can appreciate good blues. Now, House of Blues is going electronic every Sunday night with a series called Nutrition, where Shovel magazine brings in DJs to spin.
1667 Mass. Ave. between Harvard and Porter Squares
Lizard Lounge has a devoted, dreadlocked Cantabridgian following, but few Harvard types are cool enough to know about this avant-garde nest of musical experimentation. The lounge is 1920s Paris underground jumpstarted by a few decades, air-conditioned and in English. "Club d'Elf" performs mind-expanding electronica on Thursdays while Sundays see one of the best poetry jams in town, accompanied by the smooth Jeff Robinson Trio. Anyone can have a go: the atmosphere is hip yet forgiving.
1 Bennet St.
To get to the nearest other place for good jazz, you'll need a car, a map and good luck. In any case, the Regattabar is the prime spot for live jazz in Boston, and any big name coming into town is going to come here. Consequently, the tickets are pricey, and you are more likely to run into older, sit-down folk. It doesn't always jump, but there's no arguing with the top-grade jazz. Tickets go on sale through Concertix, and only a limited batch can be bought at the door an hour before showtime. It's a formal business, and you are expected to dress appropriately.
Sanders: it's not just for Ec 10 anymore. Beyond the famous Feldstein and those Moral Reasoning cores, Sanders is host to a wide array of musical events. A cappella is quite popular here, as are orchestral, choral and ethnic music events and the occasional speech or awards ceremony. Once in a blue moon, a modern music show will play (Dar Williams' Cry Cry Cry for one), but Sanders is usually strictly Harvardian musical fare.
Other Jazz Clubs
Wally's Caf (127 Mass Ave., Boston. 424-1408; take Mass. Ave. T stop or #1 bus), Ryles (212 Hampshire St. at Cambridge St.; 876-9330; take #69 bus), Sculler's Jazz Club (400 Soldiers Field Rd., Boston; 783-0090. From the Charles, walk down Memorial Drive to Western Ave. and cross the bridge, Sculler's is located in the Doubletree Guest Suites Hotel).
Big Places to Rock
50 Causeway St., Boston
Directions: Red line to Park Street, change to the Green Line Lechmere line to North Station. Follow the crowds and you're there.
Besides being home to the Celtics and Bruins, the Fleet Center is the venue of choice for those big rocking arena tours. Aerosmith, Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync have all graced us with their presences here. Dress depends on the concert; the names of the hunks from 'N Sync on the face and that old ratty Guns 'N Roses t-shirt are both acceptable. Not surprisingly, the crowds at the Fleet Center are equally diverse, anything from screaming teenyboppers (and their reluctant parents/chaperones), to those looking to relive the past and those just looking for a good time.
Rte. 140, Mansfield
Directions: Reached strictly by car. Take the Mass. Pike to Rte. 128 South. Continue on, following 128 as it become I-95 South. Take this to 140 and go two exits past Mansfield Center, or about three and a half miles, until you reach the venue.
New England's obligatory outdoor amphitheater, hosting big-name summer touring acts. Lenny Kravitz and others have played here. Though more expensive, the covered closer seats are a wise bet for those not enamored with mud or a sudden summer rainstorm. However, the cheaper lawn seats can be fun for the adventuresome folk who can think of many creative things to do with mud and/or wet clothing. The lawn not surprisingly attracts the young crowds and the older adults tend to congregate under the roof. Dress is casual.
Miscellaneous Rock Clubs
Paradise Rock Club
967 Comm. Ave., Boston
The Paradise is open only when there is a show and is satisfactorily equipped as a concert venue. Enough space to mosh and shove as you see fit (ask Drew Bledsoe), but the lines can go on for a while outside. It generally sees those softly cool, safely Top-40 groups that served their time in the Middle East the last three times they came to Boston. September has already seen Better than Ezra, Sixpence None the Richer and Gomez. More of such to come.
T.T. The Bears
10 Brookline St.
The Middle East
472 Mass Ave.
Directions: Take the red line to Central Square. Exit on Mass Ave. and walk a few blocks. The clubs are straight ahead of you on the corner, adjacent to each other.
Boston's premier places to see indie bands. The Donnas, Sleater-Kinney, Pavement, Bis, Juliana Hatfield and even the Mighty Mighty Bosstones have played here. Two separate stages (upstairs and downstairs) means twice the music at the Middle East, though upstairs tends to be smaller, more obscure bands. T.T.'s features alternative concerts in a small, intimate venue. Dress is flexible and casual, but for many concerts attire is strictly indiekid hip; bring out your Converse Hi-Tops and faded '80s t-shirts to go with your dark-rimmed glasses.