HotSpot: The Lizard Lounge

The Lizard Lounge

1667 Massachusetts Ave,

Cambridge / (617) 547-0759 /

I may like to bitch about Cambridge’s tame nightlife, but even I have to admit that our little city possesses a remarkable number of talented young musicians. Even more crucially, Cambridge is home to numerous venues at which these up-and-comers can hone their skills. Sure, there’re places like TT the Bear’s and The Middle East—where established groups and indie bands alike can perform—but there are also clubs where you can catch that chick from Toscanini’s doing some wailing from behind a piano.

Nestled beneath Law School-favorite, Cambridge Common, home to one of the best beer selections in the area, the Lizard Lounge just might be the coziest place in town to catch a show. Its crowded “stage” —a loosely defined floor space bordered on three sides by meager seating and obstructive structural pillars—necessitates a close proximity between performer and audience. The décor is comfortable and loungy, with soft reddish light and red velvet curtains softening the stage.

Perhaps the greatest draw to the Lizard, however, is free live music from 7:30-9:30pm on Tuesday through Friday. Obviously, you’re not likely to see anyone big, or even someone whose name you recognize, but chances are you’ll be treated to a solid, spirited show. And, when you combine the free music with the diverse selections of beer at the five-tap bar, the Lizard Lounge becomes an amazingly cheap way either to end your day or to start your night.

This particular strain of frugality is also evident in the reasonable cover prices for more established acts. For instance, Juliana Hatfield—an indie singer-songwriter who spearheaded the “riot grrl” movement in the early ’90s and still has a sizable cult following—recently played the super-tiny venue for a measly $8 door charge. Meanwhile, Sunday nights see the weekly return of a well-regarded poetry night that features jazz accompaniment from the Jeff Robinson Trio, all for a scant $5.

There’s even solid, well-priced pub grub—a decent burger and a mess o’ fries for $5—thanks to the restaurant upstairs.

All in all, if you’re gonna head to the Common before 9:30pm or so, you might as well chill in the basement and take in some free music. And, seriously, keep an eye on the schedule in case someone you actually know plays there; at the Lizard Lounge, you’ll pay a paltry price to damn near sit in the band’s lap.