The 11 Best Concert Venues in Phoenix

Local music in Phoenix is thriving these days — and that's due in large part to the unique venues offered to fans. An influx of new concert halls and bars in the past few years has given us even more options, while the mainstays seem to be reinventing themselves or continuing to grow. Here's your guide to the best concert venues that central and downtown Phoenix has to offer.

Comerica Theatre
Around since 2002, Comerica Theatre is where you go when you want to see folks like Bruno Mars, Matchbox Twenty, and Katy Perry (to name a few of the mega-stars that have passed through). Typically, this 5,000-seat venue features bands and artists who play radio-friendly rock or commercialized bubblegum pop. But you'll see the occasional Pixies, Arctic Monkeys, and Flight of the Conchords shows there, too. Regardless of who's playing, the bands onstage look so good that it's totally worth indulging in a big show at this theater, formerly known as Dodge.

Crescent Ballroom
In the half-dozen years since opening, Crescent Ballroom has become the standard-bearer for downtown venues. With its state-of-the-art sound system and mouthwatering Mexican fare, Crescent quickly became a hot spot. It has seen a lot of acts come and go, but this venue has kept up with a wide range of trendy, engaging bands. It can get packed, like when Jeff Mangum or Purity Ring or Danny Brown sell out, but the size of the venue still makes for memorable shows that feel intimate. The Lounge often hosts local, toned-down acts as well as energizing DJs and family bands.

Orpheum Theatre
In ancient Greek religion and myth, Orpheus was a musician who could charm everyone and everything — rocks included. Living up to that name, the 1929 Orpheum Theatre is just plain gorgeous, making every event here more formal by a factor of 10. Where else can you go in the Valley that makes you feel as though you walked into a late-19th-century opera house? No matter what you see here — plays, symphonies, rock bands, or drag shows — it will feel intimate and sound amazing. And, as was the case when we saw St. Vincent at the Orpheum, it might be beautiful enough to bring you to tears.

Last Exit Live
Located in the warehouse district just south of downtown, Last Exit Live opened its doors in 2013 as a popular stop for local and national musicians. The 21-and-over venue offers a big stage, full bar, and a massive smoking and drinking patio. Which means it's fun to attend a show even if you’ve never heard of the bands playing. Last Exit Live has filled its event calendar with acts like The Skatalites, Pharoahe Monch, and Koffin Kats, plus local performers like Dead Hot Workshop, Banana Gun, the Limit Club, and The Haymarket Squares.

The Rhythm Room
Is it too much of a stretch to say the Rhythm Room is the closest thing Phoenix has to CBGB? The Indian School Road venue does tend to feature country and blues. But Rhythm Room also showcases plenty of up-and-coming punk bands like Ceremony and Parquet Courts while also getting experimental with acts like Tobacco and the Pizza Underground. Not only that, this place refuses to compromise, offering no pool table or TVs since opening in 1991, just great live music.

The Pressroom
Located in the warehouse district at Fifth Avenue and Madison Street, The Pressroom is housed in a 14,000-square-foot building from the 1920s that once held a printing press. This 1,000-person venue comes complete with an outdoor area and full bar. That means it can host a variety of events, but live music and DJ sets are The Pressroom's specialty. We’re talking Walshy Fire of Major Lazer, DJ Quik, Wavves, Ty Segall, Say Anything, Daft Punk tribute shows, and Trapfest.

The Rebel Lounge
Veterans of Phoenix music might remember this place as the Mason Jar, which opened in 1979 and hosted such bands as Tool, Nirvana, and Rage Against the Machine. Open since 2015 in the old space, The Rebel Lounge continues that legacy. It helps that the walls are made of thick concrete, providing perfect acoustics for the concussive hardcore and punk bands that tend to pass through. If legacy and loud volume mean anything, this is the place for it.

The Trunk Space
Phoenix doesn’t have a venue with more indie cred than this place. Regular patrons know The Trunk Space to be a spot where artists can experiment, without the fear of being made fun of or told to shut up. T-Space is one of the only consistently all-ages venues in Phoenix, making it a great place for underagers and music fans looking for the Valley's next big thing. The venue's yearly Indie 500 is a music marathon featuring 500 songs played consecutively by 100 bands. Suffice it to say, it's one of the most bananas, fun things that happens in this town.

The Van Buren
A joint effort between Live Nation and Charlie Levy of Stateside Presents, The Van Buren is the highly anticipated third Levy-run music venue downtown. The beautifully designed 20,000-square-foot space features a desert mural framing the wide stage, multiple bars, and a mezzanine at Fourth Avenue and Van Buren Street. The Van Buren opened with a show from Cold War Kids, and judging by its upcoming concert schedule, it looks like we'll be spending a lot of time here in the coming months — and years.

True to its name, ThirdSpace offers that third option in social surroundings (the other two are home and work). And we have to say, it's doing a better job than most. This is definitely one of the better places to catch occasional music events in the Grand Avenue Arts District, thanks to a cozy patio with atmospheric lighting, a fire pit in the cooler months, and of course, live music from local musicians. Inside can also get hopping during DJ sessions and events that take place on weekends.

Valley Bar
Walking down an alley makes some people nervous. But to get to Valley Bar, you've gotta. Once inside, though, the basement venue is nothing but inviting. The small interior makes for a cozy place to hear jazz, salsa, and spoken-word performances. Plus, it has Skee-Ball,vintage arcades, and pinball machines crammed into the bar area, called the Rose Room. There you'll find alternately kitschy and sleek interior design — along with the mobile hanging above the bar that depicts the tale of Winnie Ruth Judd. The music venue has hosted themed dance nights, touring bands like Bleached and Horse the Band, and local acts galore.
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Phoenix New Times Music Writers