Discover the best places to hear live music in downtown Akron. From big venues that have been around for decades, to outdoor concerts, to newer, more intimate spots, there’s something for every music lover to enjoy.
Akron Civic Theatre & Knight Stage
Built in 1929, the Akron Civic Theatre is a stunning performance art theatre and live music venue designed after a Moorish castle. The downtown theatre features Mediterranean décor, medieval carvings, authentic European antiques, and Italian alabaster sculptures, creating a fairytale-like atmosphere. But perhaps the most captivating feature of this one-of-a-kind theatre is the twinkling star-lit sky and moving projected clouds that blanket the auditorium ceiling, making theatergoers feel like they are watching a show under the stars. This experience is truly unique, as the Civic Theatre is one of only five remaining atmospheric theatres in the country.
Over the years, Akron Civic Theatre has hosted a wide variety of entertainment, everything from musicals to ballets to children’s shows to concerts. The Civic’s stage has been graced by artists like John Mellencamp, Alice Cooper, Earth, Wind and Fire, Chrissie Hynde, and The Black Keys, to name a few. Visit the Akron Civic Theatre’s website to view upcoming shows and experience the magic of the theatre for yourself.
Next to the Civic Theatre in the historic Whitelaw building is the Knight Stage, a more intimate venue that has traditional rows of chairs as well as high-top tables in the back and on the balcony level. The performance and event space has a 220+ audience capacity and provides space for even more entertainment, including local musicians, comedians, musicals, and immersive events. The Knight Stage is also home to the Millennial Theatre Project, which has staged products like The Rocky Horror Show, Hairspray, and more. Stay up to date on future performances by checking out the Akron Civic Theatre’s Facebook.
Every summer, the park at Lock 3 is home to a dynamic variety of outdoor entertainment for Akronites of all ages. Bring a lawn chair and grab a drink for a concert under the stars by tribute bands, rappers, jazz musicians, and more. Or bring the family for themed movie nights and enjoy snacks from the concession stand. Lock 3 is in the DORA (Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area), so adults 21 and over can purchase alcoholic beverages from the concession stand, The Barley House, The Lockview, and Baxter’s Bar, and move freely in Lock 3, Lock 4 and beyond. Check out their calendar to see upcoming shows and events.
Located in the Hermes building in the Akron Historic Arts District, BLU Jazz+ is a beautiful live music venue and photo gallery that was designed specifically for the presentation of live jazz performances. The space is intimate and reminiscent of a New York City jazz club but has its own distinctive character and relaxing, cozy atmosphere aided by its exposed brick walls and atmospheric lighting. Visit BLU Jazz+ and enjoy a full-service bar with signature cocktails, jazz photography and memorabilia, and of course, top-notch jazz musicians. View their upcoming shows on their website.
Jilly's Music Room
Since 2013, Jilly’s Music Room has been hosting local, regional, and national bands from just about every genre from indie to rock to singer/songwriter. Located in the Northside District next to Luigis’, Jilly’s also hosts comedy and other live entertainment. Better come hungry - the venue boasts a full bar, a full-service kitchen that is 100% gluten-free, and table service. With entertainment four nights a week, there’s always fun to be had at Jilly’s Music Room. Check out the events calendar for upcoming shows.
Nestled under a glowing red neon “Dance” sign on a brick alley in the Akron Historic Arts District, Musica is a music venue that hosts national artists, local bands, DJs, comedians, and private events. They also put on other unique events like themed dance parties and “Vinyl Nite,” an opportunity to bring your favorite record to be played along with other attendees’ choices. When there isn’t entertainment on stage, Musica is also a tavern that offers drinks and activities such as cornhole, darts, and board games. Exposed brick walls, a shining disco ball, and mid-century modern lampshades hanging above the bar give this venue an eclectic, welcoming vibe. View upcoming events on Musica’s website.
Akronym Brewing hosts live music outside in their very own Biergarten located less than 500 feet away and just around the corner from their taproom at 11 South Main St. Enjoy tunes from local bands in the sunshine or under the stars with a refreshing beer in hand. The Biergarten has covered picnic tables, giant Connect 4, and of course, beer, wine, and spirits. Visit Akronym’s website for upcoming live music events.
EarthQuaker Devices Busking Station
The EarthQuaker Devices Busking Station is a pop-up outdoor performance kit that includes a custom-made cabinet on wheels, a stool, chalkboard sign, and a rechargeable, battery-powered amplifier complete with four EarthQuaker Devices effects pedals. Musicians of any genre can borrow the busking setup for free Tuesday through Sunday at the Northside Green to play for shoppers, restaurant-goers, and anyone who wants to listen to great music and enjoy the fresh air. Watch a musician’s whole set on one of the beautiful wood benches nearby. Interested in borrowing the busking station? Visit the shared checkout desk at the entrance of the Northside Marketplace.
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