With the ability to stream millions of songs on any of our devices, it’s easy to forget how people discovered artists before Spotify’s “New Music Friday”.
While live albums are available at your streaming pleasure, nothing beats (ba-dum-tss) a night spent half-yelling at friends across the table as your soon-to-be favorite guitarist comes dangerously close to spilling your beer while shuffling inside the micro stage like the rock-royalty you’ll find out they are.
If this imagery seems too hectic for you however, there are a variety of venues that offer quiet (yet equally thrilling) events.
For students living on campus or in the surrounding area, there are places right downtown where you can have a good meal and good drink while listening to some great music. So if you’re ready to reach beyond your headphones, take a look at some of these spots:
Churchill’s Food and Spirits was established in 1980, the same year as the album London Calling by The Clash was released in the United States–coincidence? Maybe. Sign this restaurant was meant for great music? Definitely.
Along with a special menu for those with a college I.D., Churchill’s hosts musicians every week. Monday’s at 8:30 p.m., patrons can hear the bluegrass and folk sounds of The Outfit, a local Flint band. They also host performances during the Greater Flint Arts Council Artwalk, which takes place on the second Friday of every month.
Crossing the street and going down a block will land you at 531 Saginaw Street at Blackstone’s Bar and Grill. Showing your college I.D. here will get you 10% off your bill, making the promise of dinner with a show even sweeter.
Blackstone’s holds live performances most Saturdays from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. They also have artists playing periodically throughout the week–it’s best to check their Facebook page to see what’s on the schedule.
In addition to music, Blackstone’s hosts events like “Takin’ it Back to the 90’s Party!” (hopefully minus the JNCO jeans), trivia nights and a live DJ on Fridays.
If you’re seeking a more relaxed atmosphere, look no further than the flapper-era-inspired Cafe Rhema, located at 432 Saginaw St. While its cozy front lounge may deceive you, venturing down the hallway to the back of the establishment will reveal a bonafide concert space.
Here, live music and events like coffee tastings, seasonal parties, karaoke and open mic nights happen. Be sure to check their Facebook page to see what events are on deck, and while you’re there, be sure to take advantage of their college discount: 15% off the price of a full meal.
For those who enjoy a more contemporary form of music, the Soggy Bottom Bar has you covered. Located past the bricks, this establishment is known for its live jazz performances every Tuesday and trivia nights on Wednesday.
They also host acts specializing in genres like folk and rock. These performances are not regularly scheduled, so make sure to keep up with their Facebook page to see their schedule.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with their menu either–this place has some of the best vegan and vegetarian options in the area. And not just a typical veggie burger either (although they do have this on the menu and damn, it’s good)–they serve vegan crab cakes and black bean nachos, to name a few gems. Also check out their Impossible Burger. I won’t waste time explaining it as the taste speaks for itself.
Regardless of their menus, don’t be a part of the generation that causes live performances to die out because you’re too busy listening on your phone. Go out and enjoy the atmosphere and comradery; you might just find your new favorite band.
This piece originally appeared in the winter 2019 issue of The Michigan Times, released on March 18.