A Guide to Metro Detroit Music Venues
Photo by Michigan Economic Development Corporation
Detroit has been a popular destination for artists to perform for nearly a century. From jazz to gospel and Motown, the city has always been known for its music. The cultures that make up Detroit attract a wide variety of artists that keep the many music venues in and around the city alive. Here’s what you need to know about some of the popular spots!
One of the oldest venues in Detroit, The Masonic Temple was first built to house the growing number of Freemason chapters in the area. In the 1920s, there was an increasing number of Freemasons, a social club. The building features 16 floors, 1,037 rooms, and three theaters with varying capacities. You can get a behind-the-scenes look with monthly tours. No matter which theater you go to, you’ll surely see the intricate architecture and details throughout the building!
Named one of Rolling Stone’s Ten Best Live Music Venues in America in 2018, this intimate venue hosts many small artists. Some of today’s most famous artists, such as Lizzo, Doja Cat, and Billie Eilish, have played at El Club. The outdoor patio features a mural by Detroit artist Freddy Diaz and food trucks on busy summer nights. With Taylor Swift and Bad Bunny dance parties and upcoming artists of all genres playing, this venue has something for everyone.
Built in 1925, the Fillmore Detroit was known as the State Theatre for most of its history. Located in the Theatre District, the building is in the heart of the city and neighbors the Fox Theatre and Comerica Park. The theater can seat up to 2,900 and hosts artists of all genres and many comedians throughout the year. In 2007, Live Nation purchased the venue and continued the gradual restoration of the Italian Renaissance theatre.
In 1907, Saint Andrews Hall opened as the home of the Saint Andrew’s Scottish Society of Detroit. It became a popular venue for artists in the 80s and is one of the first places Eminem performed. The basement, known as “The Shelter,” holds 400 people, while the main floor holds up to 1,000. Many artists have performed at St. Andrews Hall before being played on the radio, such as Iggy Pop, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Nirvana, R.E.M., the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden, John Mayer, and Adele.
Located on Woodward Avenue in the heart of Midtown, the 1,100-capacity venue was initially designed by C. Howard Crane. It opened on April 1, 1915, as one of the world’s largest movie theaters. The Majestic has been the site of memorable concerts featuring live music and entertainment from touring indie rock, metal, punk, blues, jazz, folk, hip hop, world, and electronic artists. After the show, head next door to Garden Bowl to grab some pizza, hear some disco, and bowl at one of the oldest commercial bowling alleys in the country.
John Clifford Bell opened a string of speakeasies before he opened his signature club Cliff Bell’s, on Park Avenue in 1935. It quickly became a popular venue for jazz artists and people to gather. From 1985 to 2005, the club closed. After it was repurchased in 2005, it opened in just six short months, thanks to the help of friends, family, and the local and national jazz community. The venue now hosts over 20 nights of live music a month. Catch dinner and a show at one of the world’s premier jazz clubs.