indie travel guide                                                                                                                   home
a city by city guide to the best indie clubs, bars, record shops and local bands

Cleveland, USA

Ever wondered where the first official rock'n'roll concert took place? The history books hand that singular privilege to Cleveland, although the city's equally as famous to some for the phrase "Hello Cleveland!", which Spinal Tap's Derek Smalls mistakenly shouted to a crowd in Chicago. That first gig was entitled The Moondog Coronation Ball, and was promoted by legendary radio DJ Alan Freed in March 1952. Freed coined the phrase "rock'n'roll" while he was working at Cleveland's WJW, so you can probably credit the city with that one too. Subsequent famous sons include The Raspberries who served up prime power pop at the start of the Seventies while Pere Ubu and the Dead Boys carved out their places in art rock and punk history a few years later. These days, there are plentiful bars, clubs, outdoor amphitheaters and theatres where local artists and national acts play live nightly. And you can always bone up on your music history at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame And Museum, open most days until 5.30pm. Phew! Rock'n'roll!


The Get Up!

BSide Liquor Lounge, 2785 Euclid Hts Blvd, Cleveland Hts Ohio 44106, Sundays, $3 under 21, free for over 21
Sunday night indie dance party with guest DJs and bands.

Legion Of Doom
The Chamber, 11794 Detroit Rd. (in the same building as the Phantasy and Symposium concert clubs). 10pm.
DJ Darknave plays goth, new wave, metal, electroclash, EBM and more.

The Chamber, 11794 Detroit Rd. (in the same building as the Phantasy and Symposium concert clubs). 10pm. 18-20 $5. 21+ $3. Women free before 11.
Various DJs play industrial, electro, synthpop, goth, and electroclash.

Music Industry Night
The Matinee, 2527 West 25th Street, Wednesdays, free
Not the most promising of concepts, we grant you, but if you want to "network with bands/DJs/promoters" or, more importantly, "listen to local and underground music", then this is the wingding for you.

The Beat Hive
The Matinee, 2527 West 25th Street, last Saturday of the month, free, 9pm
DJs Lu-Owl (Cleveland) and Killer B (Columbus) spinning 60s rock, soul, garage, psyche, french pop and beyond.

Rock Night
The Matinee, 2527 West 25th Street, Thursdays, free, 9pm
Guess what these guys play? Well actually Rock Night's remit extends to indie and punk as well, judging by their MySpace which played us Fugazi's superlative "Waiting Room" when we paid a visit, and had Subhumans and The Cure cued up to follow.

Mondays at the Mercury Lounge
Mercury Lounge, 1392 W. 6th St, Mondays
All genres from punk to funk, apparently.

Retro Night
Mercury Lounge, 1392 W. 6th St, Tuesdays
A 70s, 80s and 90s party.


The Agora Theater
5000 Euclid Avenue
Once voted the number one rock club in the country by Billboard Magazine and by Rolling Stone editor Dave Marsh.

The Barking Spider Tavern
11310 Juniper Rd.
The venue's website says "You can hear a wide variety of musical styles down at the Spider - anything from folk, rock, and blues, to bluegrass, jazz, reggae, and gospel!" Although their listings are packed with singer-songwriters. Nightly shows.

Beachland Ballroom and Tavern
15711 Waterloo Rd.
Its owners, Cindy Barber and Mark Leddy, really know and care about the music scene and it shows in their diverse lineup. The nationally-acclaimed concert club also includes This Way Out, a basement vintage store and is located near the record store Music Saves and the always fun Shoparooni, all which keep late hours to accommodate the music crowds. Plus, according to Blender Magazine, it has the best jukebox in the country, a vintage 1966 Rock-Ola!

Blossom Music Center
1145 W. Steels Corners (AKA the middle of nowhere, but well worth it)
Bring a GPS or pay close attention to signage. You'll go by farms and parks to get to the scenic outdoor amphitheater where rockers and the Cleveland Orchestra come to play. Also, if you are coming down from the north, consider stopping in Peninsula on your way. You can buy a brew there way cheaper than the venue (Winking Lizard or Fishers Cafe and Pub) and visit some independent shops like Blue Heron Bookstore, Crooked River Herb Farm Shop or Elements Gallery.

Brothers Lounge
11609 Detroit Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44102
Described as the ultimate intimate concert club, the historic Brothers Lounge features live music nightly.

The Euclid Tavern
11625 Euclid Ave.
This legendary establishment, known locally as “The Euc” is now reopened.

The Grog Shop
2785 Euclid Heights Blvd.
Plan an evening out on Coventry if you go to the Grog Shop. You'll find plenty of restaurants (Mint Cafe, Tommy's, Winking Lizard, Pacific East) and shops (Big Fun, City Buddha, Mac's Backs Books, American Apparel, Revolution Records) in walking distance of the club.

The Hi-Fi Club
11729 Detroit Ave.
"Where Cleveland comes to rock!" apparently. Actually based in nearby Lakewood. Heavy metal karaoke on Wednesdays!

Hoopples River Bed Café
Corner of Columbus and Franklin Streets
Schwartz Brothers Blues Revival every Thursday.

House of Blues
308 Euclid Ave.
The House of Blues Cleveland has everything you'd expect. . . southern cuisine, walls lined with colorful American folk art, an energized vibe and some of the biggest live music acts touring the country. The House of Blues Cleveland is built in a former Woolworth five and dime store, adding to its character and charm.

Jigsaw Saloon & Stage
5324 State Rd.
Voted Best Metal Venue in 2007 by a local weekly, the Jigsaw also caters to punk, rockabilly and full throttle rock.

Now That's Class
11213 Detroit Ave.
Music on Friday and Saturday nights. Other activities throughout the week include skating and projector movie night, plus cheap cans of beer.

Pat’s in the Flats
2233 West 3rd St. (At the bottom of the Literary St. hill on your way to the steel mill)
Bills itself as a working man's bar by day and a indie/punk/rock club at night. This worn looking bar is tucked away in the industrial area below the Tremont neighborhood and is not easy to find, but true rock fans will find an eclectic schedule of cutting edge bands at this Cleveland staple. People have been drinking PBR here long before anyone thought it was cool.

Peabody’s Concert Club
2083 East 21st St.
You'll catch the likes of The Misfits or Obituary here, alongside rappers like Cappadonna.

Phantasy Concert Club and Symposium Nite Club
11802 Detroit Ave.
Another Lakewood club catering to Cleveland's metal and goth scenes.

Plain Dealer Pavilion
2014 Sycamore St.
A smaller outdoor venue situated along the Cuyahoga River that can be great for catching national acts early (or late) in their careers.

Quicken Loans Arena
One Center Court
Catch many of the larger national and international concert tours here.

Time Warner Cable Amphitheater at Tower City
351 Canal Rd.
A great general admission covered outdoor venue. Plus, attend the festivals over Memorial Day (Great American Rib Cook-Off) or Labor Day (Taste of Cleveland) weekend and you can see local entertainers and big-name touring acts included in the price of admission.

Wilbert’s Food + Music
812 Huron Ave.
A place where you can get a drink, full-service food, and an intimate concert experience delivering some of the best blues, jazz, reggae, and roots rock music. Plus it’s right next to the home of Cleveland Indians major league baseball and Cleveland Cavaliers NBA basketball.

The Winchester Tavern + Music Hall
12112 Madison Ave.
Local, national and international acts can be heard at this corner stage with great sound and plenty of room for everyone.

Wolstein Center at Cleveland State University
2000 Prospect Ave.
Hosts some of the larger national and international concert tours.


Fat Fish Blue
21 Prospect Ave.
Okay, it’s not rock and roll, but it is the roots of rock and roll. Enjoy Louisiana-Creole cuisine and live jazz and blues six nights a week.

Great Lakes Brewing Company
2516 Market Ave.
No live music (except an occasional Irish band), but great burgers and even better brews. This eco-friendly pub is loaded with history (check out the bullet hole associated with crime fighter Eliot Ness), atmosphere and great Cleveland beers like Holy Moses, Burning River and Blackout Stout. A good pre-concert warm-up.

The Lava Lounge
1307 Auburn Ave.
Cool bar in Tremont, on the west side of Cleveland.

Melt Bar & Grilled
14718 Detroit Ave.
You get your menus on the back of an album cover. You can choose from hundreds of beers and you can eat huge, gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches that come with everything from walleye to pierogi. If this is your thing, it’s so worth the trip.

12387 Cedar Rd.
So this amiable Irish guy owns this deceptively unassuming restaurant and jazz club...If you can dig deeper than rock to its roots in jazz, then you don’t want to miss the only Ohio club on Down Beat's List of the 100 Best Jazz Clubs in the World, with music seven nights a week, a late-night restaurant and plenty o’ atmosphere.

Prosperity Social Club
1109 Starkweather
Art deco influenced ballroom and drinking club in Tremont.

Sunset Lounge
1382 West 9th St.
Salsa, hip hop, tango or lessons, and deejays. Make it a late night if you want to see it hopping.

Record Shops

The Exchange
15100 Detroit Ave.
New and used CDs and vinyl at this Lakewood record store.

Music Saves
15801 Waterloo Rd.
Cool indie record store. The likes of Frightened Rabbit do instores here.

My Mind’s Eye Records
13727 Madison Ave.
Lakewood record store apparently run by a vegan metalhead.

Record Revolution
1828 Coventry Rd.
They say: "In a city that lacks the best of the national chains, you gotta rely on the indie stores. We have a basement full of vinyl, a good selection of bootleg videos, an array of imported posters and a knowledgeable staff to help you get your hands on whatever it is you just can't seem to find." Sounds good to us.

Local Bands


Afternoon Naps
Superb indie pop from these HDIF favourites.

Swoonsome indie pop duo.

The Dreadful Yawns
Mojave 3 style country soundscapes.

Expecting Rain
Go-Betweens loveliness from this Cleveland duo.

The Volta Sound
Self-proclaimed "dirty hippies" from Lakewood

This is Exploding
They say they're "post-indie". We hear jagged indie rock.

The Twilight
Super melodic indie pop trio.

Machine Go Boom
Brilliantly ragged melodic pop punk.

Cobra Verde
Intriguing art rock fivesome.

The Vacancies
Local punk rock fivesome.

Numbers Band (15-60-75)
Captain Beefheart stype blues rock veterans.

Baby Dee
Brilliant transgendered street legend from Cleveland.


Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

No music pilgrimage to Cleveland is complete without visiting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Plus, check the Rock Hall's schedule. The museum regularly sponsors lectures and concerts - some free to the public, like the “Cleveland Sessions” outdoor after work shows. Or find out who is being honored and make plans to attend the star-studded American Masters Series. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum pays tribute to a seminal artist each year. After a week of educational and entertaining events, there is a history-making tribute concert featuring a host of notable artists. The induction ceremony is held in Cleveland in April.

Scene Magazine
Alternative weekly

I Rock Cleveland
Local music blog.

Exit Stencil Recordings
Local indie label, home to the likes of The Dreadful Yawns and This Moment In Black History.

Big Fun
1827 Coventry
Vintage toys and novelties.

Chelsea’s Vintage Clothing
1412 W 116th St.
Vintage clothing and costumes.

Cleveland Shop
11606 Detroit Ave.
Cleveland’s oldest vintage clothing store.

Flower Child
11508 Clifton Blvd.
Vintage department store.

Gems Department Store
2010 Euclid Ave.
Vintage department store.

Hidden Pearl Vintage
2206 Front St.
Vintage store in Cleveland Plus (30-minute drive)

2248 Lee Rd.
Modern clothing and accessories made by workers paid at a living wage under healthy, safe working conditions.

15813 Waterloo R.
Independent store filled with wit and whimsy.

Suite Lorain Antiques & Interiors
7105 Lorain Ave.
Vintage department store.

This Way Out
15711 Waterloo Rd. (in Beachland Ballroom)
More vintage.

Positively Cleveland
Useful tourist info site.

If you'd like to recommend a club, bar, record shop, band or any indie delight for inclusion in the Indie Travel Guide, please email us. If we've included a link to your band/shop etc, it would be lovely if you could link back to us. Thank you!

             cleveland messageboard                 contact us                        myspace page

city index                                                                                                                                     site map







eXTReMe Tracker