In this case, we're not talking about the massive venues with a $50 ticket's worth of pyrotechnics. We're talking localized joints that host a bevy of heavy national and local bands. Whether you want a larger “concert-style” performance, a mid-size show perfect for moshing, or an intimate dive-bar gig, you can't go wrong with any of the Valley's 10 best hard rock venues.
Pub Rock Live
8005 East Roosevelt Street, Scottsdale
Pub Rock Live has hosted some of the best metal and hard rock bands of the ‘80s, ‘90s, and today — Crowbar, Down, In This Moment, and Upon a Burning Body. The drinks are reasonably priced, and you can often find food trucks on show days. Though there's no patio or, really, any windows, you can see the stage from any vantage point in the house. This spot is also a die-hard Kansas City Chiefs bar, but they are all about catering to all NFL, soccer, and racing fans alike. The staff is welcoming, and owner Nancy Stevens, who's very active in the local scene and radio stations, is known for hosting several bands touring through the venue to backyard barbecues at her home.
1306 West University Drive, Mesa
For overall size and sound, Club Red is a cross between an intimate and amid-size venue. A few years ago, the venue relocated to Mesa from Tempe, giving it a much-needed boost in parking spaces while still being super accessible. The dual-stage space can host two shows simultaneously. While Club Red hosts some of the biggest legends in hard rock and heavy and extreme metal, the shows also have one of the best concentrations on local supporting lineups around.
Cactus Jack’s Ahwatukee Tavern
4747 East Elliot Road, #2
With a spacious stage and fantastic sound system, Cactus Jack’s is a local favorite. You can grab a drink and a bite to eat while listening to live music. And this spot has a rep for treating bands well. The venue fits more than 400 people, and there’s a large outdoor stage.
13825 North 32nd Street
Joe's Grotto's backstory is as interesting as the crowd it draws. In 1994, the venue was established by musician Joe Grotto after he won $75,000 in Las Vegas and invested it in the club. Along with the help of some friends, he has made it a favorite for even big-name hard rock bands to play when they come through town. There's music six nights a week, several drink specials, and the bartenders never skimp on the shot pours.
730 North Mill Avenue, Tempe
As one of the larger venues that caters to hard rock in the Valley, the Marquee Theatre hosts an array of genres, from Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin tributes to Morbid Angel and Chevelle. It’s also home to some great hard rock festivals, like the Summer Slaughter Tour and Desert Frostover. It's undergone a major renovation to offer fans more standing room, as well as a balcony.
Read on for more of the Valley's best hard rock venues.