Music to Miami’s Ears: Our Five Favorite Venues in the Magic City

olympia theater

It’s no secret that we here at Boca magazine are music aficionados, and we attend our fair share of concerts in South Florida. So when we got to work on our “Don’t-Miss Miami” feature for the April 2020 issue, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to highlight some of our favorite venues for live music in the 305. 

The Fillmore Miami Beach

The Fillmore Miami Beach, formerly the Jackie Gleason Theater, is the crown jewel of Miami’s diverse live music landscape. It’s hosted such inimitable musicians as David Byrne, Guns n’ Roses, Madonna, Tame Impala, Jack White, Queens of the Stone Age, Modest Mouse, The Roots, Wilco, Interpol, Run the Jewels, The Raconteurs, Alt-J, Arctic Monkeys, Vampire Weekend, Grizzly Bear, Father John Misty, The Breeders, and New Order. Chances are, if you consider yourself a music fan, at least a few artists that you love have been on this stage at some point in their career. The Fillmore’s size allows it to book both up-and coming acts and more established performers who are looking to play an intimate gig. It’s just small enough to feel intimate while being just big enough to feel epic during a sold-out gig. The venue’s double balconies, red velvet seats, and illuminated chandeliers have made it a one-of-a-kind space for live music in South Florida, one that can blend to be exactly what a night’s crowd wants it to be. It can feel scuzzy for a punk show, glammed-up for a legacy act, shiny for a pop show. The Fillmore is whatever you want it or need it to be on any given night– and hopefully, it will always be here for those of us in South Florida who have enjoyed so many amazing nights within its walls and under its chandeliers. 

Olympia Theater

Though this storied venue doesn’t book nearly as many shows as we’d like, there’s no more ornate place to enjoy live music in all of South Florida. In recent years this venue, which is just six years shy of reaching its 100th anniversary, has hosted bands including Neutral Milk Hotel and Kraftwerk, and it’s become a staple location for stand-up shows by comedians from Eric Andre to Tom Segura and beyond.  

Bayfront Park Amphitheater

It doesn’t get much more “Miami” than enjoying a show in the open air, by the water, with the downtown skyline in view. Though this storied amphitheater has gone through enough name changes in its decades-spanning history to make one’s head spin, it will be a staple of both Miami’s music culture and the Biscayne Bay scene as long as it stands. Though the venue’s current moniker is FPL Solar Amphitheater at Bayfront Park, it will always just be “Bayfront” to us.

The Ground at Club Space

Miami’s youngest venue is also its most promising– in its first 18 months of operation, this small room has hosted acts as diverse as Sleep and Whitney, with gigs from beloved punk acts like Wavves and Bikini Kill planned before the year’s end. The Ground is so named because it’s quite literally the ground floor of the well known nightclub Space in downtown Miami, and it’s quickly become a premier destination for highly regarded but lesser-known musical acts to perform in South Florida. 

American Airlines Arena

This venue isn’t exactly an ideal place to see your favorite band play– it’s a basketball arena first and foremost. That said, the fact that this crown jewel of Biscayne Blvd. hosts the biggest live music events in Miami, and perhaps in the entire state of Florida, means that it can’t be overlooked on this list. In the past, it’s hosted such enigmatic and enviable music superstars as Paul McCartney and Elton John, along with once-in-a-lifetime residencies that include Phish’s New Year’s run of shows to ring in the 2010s. Before the year’s end (assuming shows rescheduled due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak do take place) Miami’s biggest venue will host a lineup of acts that includes Tame Impala and Tool.

This web extra was inspired by our April 2020 issue. For more content like this, subscribe to the magazine.