For a city of its size, Madison’s live music scene is nothing to scoff at. The city plays host to countless shows featuring big-name acts and local artists all year round in part because of the many venues scattered throughout town.
From the small, DIY spaces to the stadiums that hold thousands of people, here’s where Madisonians like to see shows.
The Best Outdoor Spots
- The basics: The 5,000-person venue is also the home of Forward Madison FC.
- What makes it special: “It’s perfect for summer nights.” — Vicki L.
- The basics: The Wisconsin Union Directorate’s music committee books all of the shows for the Terrace (and Der Rathskeller and The Sett).
- What makes it special: “When the band, weather, and crowd are right, it's magical.” — JohnMark F.
- The basics: During the summer, Olbrich hosts a free concert series.
- What makes it special: “Exceedingly comfortable grass.” — Oren M.
The Best Spots for Big Names
- The basics: The space was originally built as the Eastwood Theater in 1929, but was renamed and converted into a live performance venue in 1987.
- What makes it special: “I like it because you get a seat. The sight lines are good and the sound is good. It's not too large, but fits a good crowd.” — Larry J.
- The basics: The 600-person-capacity Majestic first opened its doors in 1906, making it Wisconsin’s oldest theater.
- What makes it special: “It's the perfect size and makes the shows feel so much more intimate.” — Kara R.
The Best Places for Local Bands
- The basics: The east-side bar might get cramped but it knows how to put on a show.
- What makes it special: “The people and the vibe are real and you can see good local acts.” — Bianca M.
- The basics: The SASY neighborhood venue keeps a busy schedule. The Bur Oak also hosts open mic nights and sign language trivia.
- What makes it special: “It’s local and based in the community not corporate. Killer mix of local & touring acts.” — Patrick Z.
- The basics: The Langdon Street co-op houses students and non-students alike.
- What makes it special: “ It’s a DIY venue which makes it awesome, plus the building is beautiful and well decorated.” — Megan B.