Live-Music Venues in Milwaukee

Where to See Live Music in Milwaukee

Image courtesy Frankie Cole

Milwaukee is a great town for local music. From hot indie acts at the revamped Pabst Theater, to classical favorites performed by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra at the Marcus Center for Performing Arts, those looking for live music have a full roster of events to choose from on any given night of the week. This list takes a look at some of the larger venues in the Milwaukee area for live music.

BMO Harris Bradley Center
Where: 1001 N. 4th St.
Phone: (414) 227-0400
The Bradley Center is Milwaukee's arena concert hall, with capacity of up to 20,000 people. This is the place to go to see huge acts -- the place to see Lady Gaga, Bruce Springsteen and the like. In addition to regular concert seats, the Bradley Center also features suites and VIP seating. Built in 1986, the BMO Harris Bradley Center is also home to the Milwaukee Bucks, Milwaukee Admirals, and the Marquette University Golden Eagles.

Marcus Center for Performing Arts
Where: 929 N. Water St.
Phone: (414) 273-7121
Many of Milwaukee's best performing arts groups use the Marcus Center as their home stage. This beautiful facility seats up to more than 2,300 in the largest of three indoor theaters (there is also an outdoor pavilion for warm weather performances), and is the place to see the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Milwaukee Youth Symphony, and the Florentine Opera, as well as various specialty musical acts.

The Milwaukee Theatre
Where: 500 W. Kilbourn Ave.
Phone: (800) 745-3000
With seating of up to more than 4000, the Milwaukee Theatre is another venue that is great for mainstream concert-goers. This beautiful theatre has been around since 1909, and its ornate decor looks the part. Musical appearances here run the gamut from Elvis in 1972 to the Beastie Boys in 2008.

Northern Lights Theater
Where: 1721 W. Canal St.
Phone: (414) 847-7922
A two-tired theater located at the Potowatomi Bingo Casino, the Northern Lights Theater brings in a great selection of contemporary and classic artists appealing to a broad audience -- think Etta James or Clay Aiken. The lower level features table seating and the upper features traditional theater seating, for a traditional concert experience.

Pabst Theater
Where: 144 E. Wells St.
Phone: (414) 286-3663
The Pabst Theater, located on the busy corner of Wells and Water Streets in downtown Milwaukee, is one of the best known and beautiful historic buildings in the city. It's also a very popular venue for music and other live performances, and is known for bringing cutting edge new talent to the city, as well as perennial favorites. The theater is a great item to include on a "must-see" list for visitors to Milwaukee.

The Rave / Eagles Club
Where: 2401 W. Wisconsin Ave.
Phone: (414) 342-7283
Featuring five separate music venues in one large complex, the Rave is the place to go for rock and metal shows, alternative and electronic music. Built in 1926 for the Fraternal Order of Eagles, the huge complex featured a ballroom (still in use today as the biggest of the club's venues), as well as a pool and bowling alley (no longer in use today).

Riverside Theater
Where: 116 W. Wisconsin Ave.
Phone: (414) 765-9801
A beautiful and opulent theater located downtown on Wisconsin Avenue, this venue seats approximately 2500 and accommodates main-stream, large draw performers. Like it's sister venues (The Turner Hall Ballroom and Pabst Theater), the Riverside has a lot of history, having first opened as a vaudeville venue in the 1920's, and today certainly retains its historic charm.

Shank Hall
Where: 1434 N. Farwell Ave.
Phone: (414) 276-7288
Shank Hall is a small club with a capacity of only 300 people, and is a great intimate setting for local, indie, rock, reggae, for most anything excepting maybe mainstream pop. This venue was opened in 1989 and named after the fictional Milwaukee venue at which the band Spinal Tap played in the 1984 cult film This Is Spinal Tap.

Turner Hall Ballroom
Where: 1040 N. 4th St.
Phone: (414) 272-1733
The ambiance of the Turner Hall Ballroom makes it a great space for live music. The historic ballroom with wrap-around balcony was largely unused for about 70 years, and the space, though undergoing renovation, definitely retains a sort of haunted charm. This venue is where you'll go to see cutting edge performances: think indie rock bands, films, burlesque or wrestling shows, etc.