In Portland, you don’t have to share a huge venue to see the best acts, you just have to know where to go.
It’s no secret that Portland has some of the best rock and indie talent. But you may be surprised to find that you don’t need to spend a lot of money or settle for nosebleed seats at a stadium to hear good music. Here are some of the best small venues in Portland to experience big talent.
Located in North Portland on Mississippi Ave, Mississippi Studios is a small but charming venue with a typically low cover price. Right next door you’ll find BarBar, which is great to pop by for a drink if the in-venue bar gets a little too crowded. Need something to do before the show? Mississippi Studios is conveniently located on, yes, Mississippi Avenue in North Portland, one of the most popular strips in the city for eating great grub, grabbing a drink, or meandering through the bookstores or vintage shops.
Catching a live show in Portland
If you want an intimate venue to see some of the greatest bands, emerging and beloved, the Wonder Ballroom in Northeast Portland needs to be on your to-visit list. With the way the stage is set up, it’s easy to get a good view no matter where you are in the venue, and the next-door restaurant Bunk Bar serves up awesome food until midnight on weekends.
Not to be confused with Wonder Ballroom, the Crystal Ballroom sits cozily in Portland’s Southwest quarter. It’s another historic building that used to be a dance hall during the Great Depression, but today it’s one of the best places to see big talent in Portland. One unmistakable quirk about this place: The old wood floors bounce up and down with the crowd, giving you a light-as-air experience while dancing along to the music.
Doug Fir Lounge
If you’re looking for a trendy place to stay, a great bar/restaurant, and a happening underground music venue in the heart of Portland, you’ll be hard pressed to find a place better than the Doug Fir Lounge. Located on the same property as the Jupiter Hotel, the Doug Fir has great sound quality and frequently hosts a range of popular touring musicians, many of who stay right next door. Stay at the Jupiter and you might just find yourself bunking right next to the band you’ve traveled to see!
Small venues let the audience see the details of a performance
This cozy, candlelit bar just down the street from the Doug Fir in Southeast Portland transforms into one of the city’s best spots for emerging talent every Sunday night. Dubbed “Sunday Sessions,” the free weekly showcase hosts bands loved and emerging from a slew a rock genres, from psych and punk to indie and experimental.