Though maybe hard at first to navigate for the newcomer, the live music scene in Orlando offers a crazy array of unique experiences, especially once you dig a little deeper than the arenas and bigger halls. Now, larger venues may have actual tolerable sound and serve my touring band needs, but my favorite venues generally invite the notion of possibly illegal activity in the bathrooms. Here are a few spots you owe it to yourself to visit to experience live music on a more personal scale.
The Abbey The Abbey has a less regular event calendar than many other local venues, but what they lack in quantity, they make up for in convenience: The scale allows you to get up-close-and-personal with artists on stage and it has seating for concertgoers who like a more low-impact gig.
The Nook on Robinson The former Sandwich Bar spot is slowly but surely regaining its place as a live music destination. Shows are free, staff is friendly, and on any given night you can see punk, indie, folk or even experimental jazz augmented by duck calls.
Stardust Video & Coffee I love a venue with many places to wait around in between sets, and Stardust promotes a healthy walking regimen for restless rockers. The music on offer tends toward the louder and/or the more experimental.
Uncle Lou's Entertainment Hall I admire venues that do not have stages. Uncle Lou's sports a well-used floor-as-stage space, and they are cash-only, but I find myself there every day of the week to see anything and everything.
Will's Pub Going to show at Will's is like taking a bubble bath in its homeyness, though not necessarily its relative cleanliness. The venue does, however, sport three bathrooms, which is amazing. Will's is also just large enough for an individual gig to really transform the space – seeing Firewalker back in March especially made me realize that Will's is so malleable.
WHERE TO SEE LIVE MUSIC IN ORLANDO
Addition Financial Arena
12777 N. Gemini Blvd., additionfiarena.com
400 W. Church St., amwaycenter.com
46 N. Orange Ave., thebeacham.com
5405 Edgewater Dr., facebook.com/bombshellsorl
22 S. Magnolia Ave., celineorlando.com
Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
445 S. Magnolia Ave., drphillipscenter.org
The Geek Easy
114 S. Semoran Blvd., Winter Park, facebook.com/thegeekeasy
Grumpy's Underground Lounge
1018 N. Mills Ave., facebook.com/grumpysunderground
Hard Rock Live
6050 Universal Blvd., hardrock.com/live
Henao Contemporary Center
5601 Edgewater Drive, henaocenter.com
House of Blues
1490 E. Buena Vista Drive, Disney Springs, houseofblues.com/orlando
2438 E. Robinson St., facebook.com/ironcowcafe
The Nook on Robinson
2432 E. Robinson St., facebook.com/thenookonrobinson
The Plaza Live
425 N. Bumby Ave., plazaliveorlando.org
54 N. Orange Ave., thesocial.org
37 W. Pine St., soundbaror.coml
Stardust Video & Coffee
1842 E. Winter Park Road, facebook.com/stardustie
Stonewall Bar Orlando
741 W. Church St., facebook.com/ stonewall.orlando
2000 S. Summerlin Ave., 321-234-3985, timucua.com
Uncle Lou's Entertainment Hall 1016 N. Mills Ave.
Whiskey Lou's Lounge
121 N. Bumby Ave., facebook.com/whiskeylous
1042 N. Mills Ave., willspub.org
This story is from the Aug. 8, 2019, print issue of Orlando Weekly's Newcomers Guide 2019. Stay on top of Central Florida news and views with our weekly Headlines newsletter.