Zach: 5 Best Music Venues to See Shows at in the Boston Area

For decades, Boston has been known as one of the nation’s best music city’s. From its thriving DIY scene, to the talent which flows out of Berklee College of Music, and to some of the most historically great venues around Beantown has all you can want musically. As a musician, this was obviously a huge factor in selecting Boston as my new home for four years. Living in Allston, about a mile away from BU’s Central Campus, has allowed me to become ingrained with its thriving music culture in its local bars and sweaty basements. For many, the Allston DIY lifestyle is not for them, in fact, many BU students simply want to see a concert or two every semester from some of their favorite artists. Luckily, Boston has some of the coolest spots to see live music which go above and beyond the DIY ethos of Allston Rat City.

5. House of Blues
Located right across the street from Fenway Park, the House of Blues Boston provides your standard General Admission experience. The venue is perfectly situated for those East Campus folk who don’t feel like dropping gobs of money on transportation. The House of Blues hosts some bigger names then the rest of the venues on this list—the types of artists that are right between playing TD Garden and the Royale. I have seen some excellent shows here as the sound and ambience is consistently on point.

4. Brighton Music Hall
Brighton Music Hall is a smaller, unimposing venue right down Brighton Ave. in Allston. With this being said, it’s probably the largest venue in Rat City you can go to outside of Paradise Rock Club (not a fan). Although I have only seen one show here, BMH holds a tremendous amount of real estate in my heart because it was where I saw my first concert as a BU student, in fact, it was the first show I attended in Boston, period. My memory is a little fuzzy on what the space looks like, but the sound was fantastic and plenty of local talent rolls through. This is the perfect place to go if you are looking to see an act that you have never seen before.

3. The Middle East
Amid some sexual assault allegations on one the Middle East’s promoters, I have not been to this venue in a very long time. If it weren’t for said allegations, the Cambridge restaurant and nightclub would probably occupy the #1 spot on this list. Fortunately, I believe the assailant has been removed from the venue and I have seen more and more artists that I have liked reappearing on bills there. The Middle East may be known for its great Middle Eastern fair, but it also serves as a fantastic venue by night. Three rooms designated for shows occupy the building: the Upstairs, the Downstairs, and Sonia, a newer space which is really what makes this venue so great. The Middle East Upstairs is a much tighter knit venue, but holds some pretty solid smaller acts, while Downstairs holds larger shows equivalent to that of the Sinclair. Sonia is a middle ground between the two and has the best sound and layout for some really killer shows!

2. Royale
Most know the Royale as a nightclub, but the space actually holds some of the best shows that I have been to in Boston. I have seen a number of acts at this downtown location and it never ceases to amaze me how well the venue runs its shows. The sound and lights have been perfect at every show I’ve seen at the Royale. The venue always hosts great acts, too. I’m always finding myself clicking the “Interested” button on Facebook events held at the Royale. If there is any venue that hosts mid-sized to bordering on the larger side acts, the Royale is above and beyond the best. My only gripe is that the middle of the GA section is raised due the fact that its main room is often used as a clubbing space.

  1. The Sinclair
    Finally, we have reached #1, and yes it is The Sinclair. The Sinclair is a mid-size to smaller size venue which hosts acts of all kinds. It is located right in Harvard Square, which makes it a little difficult to get to, but the venue itself is incredibly ideal. I have only seen great shows here with fantastic crowds. The lighting and sound are on par with the Royale, but the smaller size is much comfier without feeling too small. Similarly to Brighton Music Hall, plenty of local acts play here. It’s another space perfect for seeing artists that you may have never seen before, while also hosting plenty of household names.

Zach: 5 Underrated Things to Do On the Weekends in Boston

If you are looking for fun and interesting things to do on the weekend, you may be inclined to hop to some of the more conventional and touristy spots in Boston. Although taking a walk through the Public Garden and exploring the numerous cuisines at Quincy Market or Eataly have their rightful place in the quintessential Boston experience, there are things for you to do which may not be littered with tourists and overwhelming crowds.

This list is compiled of unique and largely underrated things to do in Boston. Although some of these activities and locations may not be the cheapest, they will definitely provide you with a bucket list buster.

5. Hood Milk Bottle

Located at 300 Congress St., right next to the Boston Children’s Museum stands a 40-foot tall Hood Milk bottle. The regional New England milk brand bought the bottle in the 70s from its builder Arthur Granger to donate to the Children’s Museum. The bottle has undergone multiple purpose changes from starting out as an ice cream stand to simply serving as tourist attraction. It now serves as both, as you can buy soft serve and then snap a photo for Instagram. I personally think it’s incredibly aesthetically pleasing and just all around absurd. If you choose to visit the bottle, you are neither required to buy a Children’s Museum ticket nor buy yourself an ice cream cone; you can just go ahead and check it out for free in all of its imposing glory.

4. Franklin Park Zoo

Within Boston’s famous Emerald Necklace lies Franklin Park; within the park lies a zoo unlike many other zoos. Not too far from my hometown of Glen Rock, New Jersey, there is a very similar zoo also located in a park called the Van Saun Park Zoo. This zoo has a very community feeling to it and it’s not too large and very easy to navigate. The same can be said for the Franklin Park Zoo, as it rarely feels overcrowded and I don’t find myself having to look at a map the entire time. Among the the coolest animals are zebras, giraffes, and kangaroos. Although a zoo might not sound like such a “unique” or “underrated” way to spend your day, the Franklin Park Zoo has a special place in my heart and is worth a visit during your four years here at BU.

3. Mapparium

Boston’s Mapparium is a one of a kind attraction. Located in the Mary Baker Eddy Library in the dead center of the Northeastern campus is a three-story tall globe. Personally, I am a huge geography nerd, so I am a little bias when touting such an exhibit, but even the most geographically challenged will enjoy a visit to the Mapparium. As you enter the globe, a tour guide provides you with info on the library and why the globe was built. There is also a show that lights up different parts of the world and details how the world has changed since the Mapparium was built. Admission is a little pricey, but the library offers student discounts to anyone with a student ID.

2. Candlepin Bowling at Flatbread Brighton

Bowling? With smaller balls than usually? Into candlepins? What even is a candlepin? At a pizza place? These are all appropriate questions. Flatbread Brighton is a flatbread pizza joint right by the Boston Landing commuter rail stop. Although it may seem like the restaurant’s main attraction is the pizza, it’s not. You can actually bowl here. The owners of Flatbread Brighton designed the place to have both a combined restaurant and bowling alley atmosphere without giving too much attention to either concept. Bowling here is not your traditional bowling alley experience, as you are throwing much smaller balls at candle-shaped pins on a much smaller lane. In my opinion, it’s easier and more fun for people who don’t bowl regularly, but doesn’t take away from the fun of traditional bowling. Although isn’t wildly cheap, bowling is much cheaper and you do not have to order food to get a game in!

1. Thrifting in Allston

My hands-down favorite thing to do on the weekends is to peruse Allston’s many thrift stores with my friends. There are three in particular that stand out: Buffalo Exchange, Urban Renewals, and Goodwill. You can find your niche, as all three stores are pretty different. Buffalo Exchange is a little more expensive than the other two and feels more like a traditional clothing store. Urban Renewals is a family-run thrift shop and sells itself as “a Family Thrift Center for the urban dweller.” Goodwill, a chain, is your run of the mill thrift shop, but serves its purpose. Skip the overpriced stores on Newbury Street and head west for a thrifty time!

Zach M: Boston’s Thriving Underground Music Scene

Hey COM students!

Many students struggle with what they are going to do with their Friday and Saturday nights. I have a great way for students to diversify their weekends and gain new experiences which they can carry out through their four years at BU!
As a music journalist in COM, I am constantly finding myself connecting all of my work back to the music scene. The best way I know how to get young COM students acclimated to Boston and college life is to introduce them to the city’s rich musical culture.
When most people think about Boston’s music scene, they immediately point to Berklee College of Music. Obviously, a lot of musicians come out of Berklee and do great things, but Berklee is not at the heart of Boston’s music scene.
In fact, most Boston band’s get their start in the basements of Allston. Allston, Rat City, baby! A place which many students think of as a frat hub, a place to party. That may be the case for a lot of students, but I see Allston as a cultural melting pot, a city within a city where subcultures collide.
On one hand, Allston has all of this incredible food from all different walks of life. You can thrift in Allston, explore its many interesting shops, and immerse yourself in one of America’s most hard-working music scenes. At Allston house shows, you will meet all different types of people who just want to watch some awesome bands and have a good time. Rap shows, indie rock shows, punk shows, and even funk shows go on in Allston on a given night.
A vast majority of these events can be found through the Facebook group BOSTON ALL AGES DIY GIGS and are often sited in some of Boston’s most renowned underground publications such as Allston Pudding and BU’s very own The Beat. Students make up a good portion of the music scene and it’s never too late to get involved! So get out there and diversify your weekend night and make sure to tell your friends, so we can keep Boston’s incredible music scene afloat.