Where to Find Gigs Under $30 Around Boston

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Rock out without breaking the bank.


Photo by Matthew Healey/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

It’s no secret that Boston can be quite an expensive city to live in. But don’t despair: there are still ways to have fun here without breaking the bank. That’s where this guide to seeing concerts in Boston for under $30 comes in handy. Gone are the days of searching for that rare bill under $100 ET at the sight of the artist. And despite the challenges of the past two years, Boston still offers plenty of smaller venues where you can see a wide variety of live music genres.

One caveat: while all of the sites on this list offer ticket prices under $30 at least, you can expect some of the usual ticket purchase fees that could cause it to exceed $30 if you buy tickets. tickets online. Try to visit ATMs in person when you can to avoid fees. Additionally, some of these venues offer shows over $30; we’ve included them because they have plenty of gigs that hit that price point, so plan to do a bit of filtering as you browse for upcoming shows.

University shows

Berklee School of Music

Cost: $10-25 (for non-Berklee students)

It’s no secret that Berklee has a history of serving as an incubator for up-and-coming stars, with a list of alumni ranging from John Mayer to Esperanza Spalding to The Chicks’ Natalie Maines. So why not see some of these stars of the future today? The college regularly hosts performances open to the public, featuring everything from award-winning a cappella students to Elton John tribute performances. Tickets are available for purchase online and at the door (for slightly higher prices), but shows often sell out in advance. Berklee also hosts Summer in the City, an entirely free concert program that runs from July through September (and even includes a few outdoor venues). 136 Massachusetts Ave., Boston, berklee.edu.

Harvard University

Cost: Free – $25

Harvard offers a range of concerts open to the public, primarily on weekends. Buy tickets online in advance for students a cappella, choir, percussion, orchestra, etc. Harvard Box Office, 1350 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, boxoffice.harvard.edu.

Boston University

Cost: Free – $20

BU’s live music offerings are primarily in classical genres, from chamber music to trombone ensembles. Shows take place almost every day of the week at no cost to the public, with the exception of a few special events, for which advance registration and purchase of tickets are required. 855 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, bu.edu.

Standing room only

The Sinclair

Cost: Free – $25

Whether you’re feeling British R&B, post-punk or indie rock, the Sinclair has it all, from national tours to beloved local artists like Oompa or Sidney Gish. The venue hosts shows almost every day, with most tickets purchased in advance. Avoid extra fees at their free box office on Fridays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and any show night after doors open. 52 Church Street, Cambridge, sinclaircambridge.com.

heavenly rock club

Cost: $19.50 – 65

Paradise tends to book artists who can sell their 933-person space, so expect bigger crowds and slightly bigger names here. Tickets can be purchased in person or online, in advance. 967 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, crossroadspresents.com.

Brighton Music Hall

Cost: $14-30

Located not far from Paradise, Brighton Music Hall is a hotspot for both national artists touring Boston and local artists. But it’s also pleasantly intimate, offering plenty of opportunities to imagine you’ve made eye contact with the lead singer of your favorite indie rock band. 158 Brighton Ave., Boston, crossroadspresents.com.

Middle East

Cost: Free – $40

This multi-venue venue in Cambridge features music in its five venues every night of the week. Tickets can be purchased in advance or at the door, and shows tend to run late – be prepared to drink cold brew all morning the next day if you’re going on a weeknight. 10 Brookline Street, Cambridge, mideastoffers.com.

  • Corner is the smallest room in the Middle East, with mostly locals, especially quality covers. Cost: Free – $10
  • Zuzu is host to DIY DJ events, from electronic music and hip hop to casual jazz. Or test your own skills at an open mic night. Cost: Free – $10
  • Upstairs mainly hosts new local talent and smaller tours, ideal for discovering new Boston artists. Cost: $12-20
  • Sonia is the newest space in the Middle East with a new sound system. Stop by on Wednesdays for Bearly Dead (a Grateful Dead cover band) or Heroes (80s new wave, electro punk and old school goth), every other Friday. Cost: $12 to $40
  • The largest and most dynamic room, the middle east bottom seats up to 550 people and hosts better-known artists like Yoke Lore… plus the occasional Taylor Swift dance party. Cost: $15-40

Crystal Ballroom at Somerville Theater

Cost: $15-30

Crystal Ballroom is the newly renovated space at Somerville Theatre, featuring mostly general admission shows, with around a third of events sold out with cabaret-style seating (these tend to sell out faster). They host concerts almost every day of the week, with genres ranging from indie punk to experimental pop to rock. Plus, the affiliated movie theater offers one of the cheapest ticket prices around, so you can make a whole night out of it on a budget while you’re there. 55 Davis Square, Somerville, crystalballroomboston.com.

Sit back and relax

Sounds of Sofar

Cost: $22-26

Sofar is by far the most unusual concert experience on this list, given that when buying a ticket, you don’t know where the concert is or who will be performing. The organization offers at least three events per week, with tickets available four to six weeks in advance. Plan ahead for this – tickets usually sell out a few days before an event, sometimes more. 36 hours in advance, Sofar sends the exact location and ticket holders discover the artists (three different performers, often representing a wide range of genres, from rock to poetry to bluegrass and more) when they show up on the spot. Range of locations – you can find yourself anywhere from an after-hours art gallery to someone’s backyard. Locations include Jamaica Plain, SoWa, Beacon Hill and more, sofarsounds.com.

O’Briens

Cost: $8 to $15

This intimate bar reflects the kind of hole-in-the-wall dive culture we still love to see in Allston Rock City, even as the neighborhood faces the same gentrification pressures as the rest of the city. Catch concerts here any night of the week and soak up the vibe of Allston at its best. 3 Harvard Ave., Allston, obrienspubboston.com.

Club Passim

Cost: $10 to $40

Discover this Cambridge staple for folk music, from Celtic, bluegrass and old time to indie, blues and beyond. With events happening every night of the year, there’s no shortage of folk tunes coming from this Harvard Square landmark. 47 Palmer Street, Cambridge, passim.org.

Boston Symphony Orchestra

Cost: $10-25 for emergency tickets and $25 for those under 40

BSO’s usual ticket prices are definitely north of $30, but they have a special initiative to appeal to young classical music fans with their $25 under 40 program. But fear not, if you’re over 40, there are still ways to get discounted tickets: $10 tickets are available during Rush ticket sales on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays. 301 Massachusetts Ave., Boston, bso.org.

rowers

Cost: $25 to $65

This classic club has been around for over thirty years, churning out funky bops in all genres of jazz – Latin and contemporary, blues, soul, R&B and world music. Shows mostly take place on weekends and can be a bit expensive, but there are less than $30 options if you buy ahead and look carefully before you buy. 400 Soldiers Field Road, Boston, www.scullersjazz.com.


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