Salt Lake’s music scene has flourished in the last decade because of a few club owners who put quality before quantity. As a result, bands passing through to L.A. or Denver love to play here, and fans get a front-row seat. Before any visit to Salt Lake, be sure to check the lineups at these venues. You’ll find nationally known acts playing in wonderfully small and intimate music halls. You get to be a part of it here, to be insanely close to new music, to old music, but always live music.
This small, not-a-bad-spot-in-the-house music club is the place to see bands in Salt Lake on the way up the ladder of fame and stardom. The Spartan club with decently priced beer and cocktails presents an eclectic lineup of acts, from feelgood indie bands to death metal wizards and hip-hop legends pretty much seven nights a week.
Urban Lounge shows start late, and the bands who play there inevitably return to play the small, informal space that lets you get right up front. The owners of Urban Lounge also own Rye, the restaurant next door. During shows, the restaurant reveals televisions with live coverage of the stage next store and pipes in the sound, and you’re welcome to duck out of the action and have a bite for a breather.
Pro tip: Rye offers “Free Ticket Tuesdays.” Head there for dinner, and get a free ticket to an upcoming show at Urban Lounge with every entrée you order.
241 S. 500 East
The State Room
Founded in 2009, the State Room was a game changer. The well-designed space is dedicated to its acoustically beloved sound stage. Inside the theater there are no tawdry beer signs or anything really to distract from the stage—fronted by a roomy dance floor and backed by tiered seats for those who like to have a sit. The bar out front offers a civilized coat check, an efficient bar staff, and reasonably priced drinks. The State Room is only open for shows—a range of mid-level to big bands in a wonderfully intimate space that puts live music first.
The State Room
638 S. State St.
This all-ages venue is an institution. A whole generation of disenfranchised Salt Lake youth found themselves at Kilby and along the way witnessed the growth of the Salt Lake indie scene. Many major bands have passed through the Court on their way up the indie music ladder (Iron and Wine, Deathcab for Cutie, Saul Williams, St. Vincent, Neon Trees, Fall Out Boy), and the small space, hidden down an alley on Salt Lake’s west side, still remains a place for the underage crowd to discover great new music and be a part of something larger than homework and high school. Don’t worry, it’s not just for kids (although they are there). It's truly a unique spot to hear music.
741 S. Kilby Court
The biggest of the small clubs in Salt Lake, The Depot was designed to fill the niche above venues like Urban Lounge and The State Room and can welcome bigger crowds. But there really isn’t a bad spot in the house. Even from the back you’ll have great sight lines to the stage, and the upper level affords great views from above. The hall has attracted the likes of Chrissey Hynde, Tame Impala, and Robert Plant, as well as Sleater-Kinney and Guster.
400 West and S. Temple
Basically four clubs in one, The Complex is, well, a little complex. The individually named spaces within—The Grand, Rockwell, Vertigo, and The Vibe—all have different feels. The Grand and Rockwell are all-ages clubs, while Vertigo and The Vibe are for music lovers old enough to drink. There's always something going on at The Complex, which really is the Salt Lake home to the electronic dance and DJ-driven performance scene. But the eclectic collection of clubs also offers an equally eclectic selection of music, so be sure to drill down into the vast lineups before your visit.
536 W. 100 South
Garage on Beck
This road house, located in Salt Lake’s industrial district, mainly caters its music lineup to an excellent election of local bands. In the winter, bands play on the crowded stage by the door, and in the summer sprawl out on the patio that feels like the backyard you wish you had. It’s the kind of place that will feature a blues band on Friday, rockabilly greasers on Saturday, and a mellow singer-songwriter on Sunday. Low commitment and low stress, the Garage also has an excellent food menu.
Garage on Beck
1199 N. Beck St.
In the Venue
The redundantly named In the Venue fills the space in Salt Lake at just above State Room’s size and a bit below the The Depot’s. In the Venue’s stage sees everything from local DJs to live acts on national tours. The likes of Smashing Pumpkins, Ratatat, Ingrid Michaelson, Katy Perry, The Shins, Pendulum, Imogen Heap, Slayer, and My Chemical Romance have passed through, and it's also the place to see bands or DJs you’ve never heard of but soon will. An all-ages space, In the Venue also has some 21-and-over areas.
In the Venue
579 W. 200 South
The Great Saltair
Once a resort on the shores of the Great Salt Lake, in the early part of the 1900s and mid-century (back when people wore bathing suits that covered their knees), the Great Saltair, located on the shores of the Great Salt Lake, is now one of Salt Lake’s great concert halls. It’s a bit of a drive, but the venue plays host to a surprising and strange mix of A, B, and C-list bands. Sometimes it’s a head scratcher (“Dylan is playing out there?”), sometimes it's a band you've wanted to see for years (Flaming Lips!), and often it's electronic dance, rave, or nu metal, but the comfortable all-ages club, with a bar level for the grownups, is truly a unique space in one of the most unique spaces on Earth—the shores of the Great Salt Lake.
The Great Saltair
12408 W Saltair Drive, Magna, Utah
More than a mere record store, Diabolical Records is a community gathering space that plays host to small house-sized concerts for bands who are often touring on good will and social media hype. With few whistles and bells, the store welcomes fans of all ages who crowd in among the vinyl stacks to hear hipster bands passing through from Portland to Brooklyn. Snark aside, this is a great spot to hear cutting edge music for a song, as tickets are often incredibly cheap or on a donation basis. Check the store’s Facebook page for what’s up next.
238 S. Edison St.