Sick of hearing the sounds of Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Drake, and Selena Gomez at every establishment you walk into? Me too. Although these artists are extremely talented and successful, sometimes I like to take a step back and truly appreciate live music.
One major thing that Iowa City is known for is its art scene. From art fairs, to fashion shows, to concerts, there are a plethora of ways to discover new artists. Sometimes, this is walking through the Ped Mall on a nice sunny day and seeing singers on the park benches and sidewalks playing guitars and performing for passersby to see. Other times, this may mean trying out some new bars and restaurants to see what entertainment they have to offer.
I’ve outlined six of my favorite spots to see live music, check them out:
Blue Moose is one of the largest live music establishments in Iowa City. With its two stages, this tap house is a great place for both Iowa City locals and big-name artists to show off their musical talents. If you ever see your Instagram feed filled with large glass boots of beer, it’s safe to say that they had been to Blue Moose the night before. Another staple Blue Moose is known for is its Thursday night karaoke sessions. Often times, Iowa City’s gems who are too shy to perform on the big stages tend to sneak into the karaoke sesh and wow the crowd.
2. Joe’s Place
Not in the mood to karaoke? Joe’s offers a chance for local talents to belt it out every Thursday. This cozy bar scene is ideal for a low key night to listen to some good tunes and play pool, if that’s what you’re aiming for (Get it? Pool? Aiming? I’ll be here all week). On their website, Joe’s also makes it clear that there is NEVER a cover!
Although the Yacht Club sounds like some fancy shmancy elite hangout, it’s the chillest of the chill and a great place to be entertained. Not only does this watering hole feature artists such as raptune guy Spaceman and trance/electronic band Chachuba, but the bar also hosts a comedy show every Monday night at 9 pm. The only food on their menu is grilled cheese, which is bomb and offers 14 different sauces and spreads.
Not only does Gabe’s offer great music and drinks, but this bar also has a memorable beer garden. When it finally decides to reach over 45 degrees in Iowa, take a seat on the patio and enjoy a nice cold brew in an intimate environment with cool graffiti on the surrounding walls. After you’re done, head inside to the venue to listen to some eccentric tunes like pop/punk musician Charlie Siren and DJ Splendid.
If you have a car, try 30hop. If you don’t have a car, beg a friend to take you to 30hop. If none of your friends have cars, cab it to 30hop. I’m telling you, this place is worth the short drive out of Iowa City. Located on the Iowa River Landing, 30hop is not only known for it’s 60 beers on tap and delicious food, but they have a rooftop patio that is to die for. Starting in May, they will have live music every Wednesday at “The Top of the Hop.”
6. The Mill
The Mill — yet another homey and entertaining Iowa City hotspot for live music. The Mill originated as a coffee shop and a folk music venue, and is now a full restaurant and is distinguished in assuring local talents get the opportunity to take the stage. They have quite the selection of yummy bar food that you can munch on while listening to performers — the venue is a very relaxed setting with a stage surrounded by booths.
Pictured is local talent Elizabeth Moen, who had her album release party at The Mill. Iowa City performers such as Elizabeth truly love when people come out to their shows, so consider changing it up this weekend and hitting up one of these live music hotspots.