As the capital of and largest city in the state of Massachusetts, Boston has plenty to offer those who are looking for arts and culture. The Boston music scene is dynamic and constantly changing, so audiophiles who live here never get bored.[find-an-apartment]
With a little know-how and a keen sense of hearing, you’ll be well on your way to figuring out the best area bands, venues and record stores. So pick up your headphones and settle in for a great show. Here’s a guide to the music scene in Boston.
It may surprise you, but there are more bands that call Beantown home than just the ubiquitous 1980s rock band Boston. Although many of these acts have achieved critical fame and success, you can still see them performing around town every now and then. Amongst the indie electropop genre, Passion Pit surprises fans with their sugary pop melodies laced with synthy electronic. And conscious hip hop fanatics get down to Mr. Lif, Akrobatik and Guru. Metalcore bands The Acacia Strain, Within the Ruins and Unearth are making a name for themselves in Boston, and alternative bands Sebadoh, Pixies and Dinosaur Jr. continue to rock venues.
A comprehensive overview of all the music venues in Boston would require an entirely different guide in and of itself. However, you can get a good feel for the music scene by stepping foot in some of the more famous ones. The Symphony Hall (301 Massachusetts Ave., Boston, MA 02108) has been the home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra since 1881, and is one of the most historical venues in the city. If leather, black lipstick and skulls are more your thing, you’ll find like-minded patrons at Xmortis (10 Brookline St., Cambridge, MA 02238), which hosts a monthly goth night and regularly hosts industrial and darkwave bands. Some of the best jazz in the city can be found at Wally’s Cafe (427 Massachusetts Ave., Boston, MA 02118) and the Paradise Rock Club (967 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215) is great for taking in a high-energy rock concert and enjoying some cheap beer.
Because of the large number of universities in the Boston area, the college radio community is thriving. Perhaps the most famous of which is Boston College’s WZCB-FM (90.3 FM), which broadcasts indie rock and other college favorites during the week. WZBC’s main draw is its specialty programming, which includes “Lucid Sounds,” which broadcasts the best in ambient, eclectic and other electronica, “Martinis on the Moon,” which features obscure 1960s pop from around the globe and “Sounds of Dissent,” a weekly news program. Harvard University broadcasts a classical-heavy schedule, with specialty shows on the weekends, at WHRB-FM (95.3 FM), and folk and acoustic fanatics can get their fill at the University of Massachusetts’ station, WUMB-FM (91.9 FM), which often features live studio performances and airs 15 hours each day.
If you’re looking to pick up something that’s not played on your local Top 40 station, Boston has the perfect independent record store for you. Whether you’re looking for bizarre Japanese psychedelic music or obscure 1960s UK garage, you’ll find it at Weirdo Records (844 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139), which has a huge selection of weird and eclectic CDs and vinyl. For a giant selection of records at rock-bottom prices, head just a few doors down and check out Cheapo Records (538 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139), which offers used titles in great condition. And if you’re looking for the newest of the new in indie rock, alternative and pop, Newbury Comics (322 Newbury St., Boston, MA 02115) delivers.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons / mooogmonster