Any self-respecting rock & roll capital of the universe is obligated to stockpile the nightlife hubs.
And on this count, Northeast Ohio is virtually without peer. From our trendy downtown hotspots to our comforting corner bars, music pours out of our area clubs, from revelatory rock to smoldering blues and all points between and beyond. Following is a sampler of the hottest games in town.
Stay tuned to Scene for weekly updates on area venues.
Annabell's: 784 W. Market St., Akron, 330-535-1112. This long-standing Akron club, located in the hip Highland Square neighborhood, hosts everything from indie bands and electronic DJs to punk-rock nights and open jam sessions.
Beachland Tavern: A former Croatian Hall now nationally known as a top live music venue, the Beachland made its bones with rootsy Americana bands, but regularly hosts sounds of all kinds. The Tavern next door is a great place to grab a beer and catch an up-and-comer. 15711 Waterloo Rd., 216-383-1124
Barking Spider Tavern: 11310 Juniper Rd., 216-421-2863. This Case campus hangout is best known for singer-songwriter types, but jazz combos, blues groups, and indie rockers also squeeze onto the small stage.
Brothers Lounge: 11609 Detroit Ave., 216-226-2767. Brothers has grown away from its funky blues-club vibe of days past. Now it includes a restaurant/tavern, a wine bar that features mainly acoustic acts, and the roomy Music Hall, which ably accomodates rock, blues, jazz, and reggae.
The 5 O'Clock Lounge: 11904 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216-521-4906. The plush seats and rounded bar are vintage, and so are many of the grandfatherly types who tip brews at the 5 O'Clock. The tattooed punks who flock there for the live, loud, local bands on weekends bridge the generation gap.
Grog Shop: 2785 Euclid Hts. Blvd., Cleveland Hts., 216-321-5588. The Grog is one of the prime places in town to hear hot indie, punk, and pop bands. It's hosted a ton of buzz bands on their way up and some of the best local acts.
The Happy Dog: In addition to offering hot dogs with dozens of toppings, the Dog slathers on the live music — with an emphasis on local indie-style bands, mixed with some cool out-of-town rockers. 5801 Detroit Ave., 216-651-9474
House of Blues: 308 Euclid Ave., 216-523-2583. House of Blues is the place to see megawatt artists on their way up the charts. The Music Hall holds more than 1,000 for big-name shows, while the more intimate Cambridge Room hosts local bands and national acts still cultivating their following.
Musica: 51 E. Market St., Akron, 330-374-1114. This downtown Akron club books bands that never would have played the Rubber City a few years ago — say, Dinosaur Jr. and the Drive-By Truckers. Between the touring acts, locals take the stage.
Now That's Class
: 11213 Detroit Ave., 216-221-8576. Now That's Class specializes in D.I.Y. vibe — with professionalism and welcome predictability. As for the music? It could be anything from punk to avant-jazz to hardcore.
Peabody's: 2045 E. 21st St., 216-776-9999. The city's top metal and hardcore club gives fans their money's worth: Most shows include at least four bands, and usually many more.
Phantasy Nite Club: 11802 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216-228-6300. An alternative rock hot spot in the '80s and the goth/industrial hangout in the '90s, the club known for its wooden-ship decor still hosts live music on weekends — mostly upstart local bands and visitors you've never heard.
Prosperity Social Club: 1109 Starkweather Ave., 216-937-1938. Cozy and retro, this former workingman's watering hole serves up food, booze, and a bowling machine along with the live music. You'll find locals laying down everything from lounge and jazz to folk and bluegrass.
The Winchester: 12112 Madison Ave., Lakewood, 216-226-5681. There's something so Cleveland about the Winchester. Maybe it's the way it books the familiar, the reliable, and the safe. Its music room, hidden behind a tiny bar, is surprisingly large and comfortable.
Anatomy Nightclub + Ultralounge: 1299 West 9th St., 216-363-1113. A block from the West 6th Street hubbub, Anatomy caters to a sophisticated — and more low-key — crowd, with two spacious floors, a sleek, modern interior, and state-of-the-art audio and video systems.
Bar Flyy: 1266 West 6th St., 216-522-7200. Bar Flyy boasts the city's murkiest dance floor. While the DJ serves up the freshest hits, dancers shimmy and shake on that floor, tweaked by blinding, flashing strobes and flowing dry ice.
Barley House: 1265 West 6th St., 216-623-1700. On weekends, this anchor of the Warehouse District party scene becomes a holding pen for a unique cross section of clubbers, from gel-headed fratsters to hip-hoppers to suited execs.
B Side Liquor Lounge: 2785 Euclid Hts. Blvd., Cleveland Hts., 216-932-1966. Located below the Grog Shop, this sleek dance club provides a steady menu of the best local turntablists along with guest stints by big-name DJs.
The Corner Alley: 402 Euclid Ave., 216-298-4070. Part of the hip East Fourth scene, the Corner Alley boasts 16 lanes that attract everyone from boozy bachelorettes to serious bowlers.
Dive: 1214 West 6th St., 216-621-7827. This Warehouse District fave has something for everyone: Sports fans can soak in the glow of the big-screen TVs. Music fans can shake to DJs spinning the freshest cuts.
Lust: 1303 West 6th St., 216-298-4125. The West 6th nightspot hosts pay-at-the-door dance parties, attracting a young and edgy crowd on weekends. The music is handled by a rotation of well-known local DJs.
SIN: 1296 West 6th, 440-341-5851. The club has gone through about a dozen name changes over the past decade. A few things remain the same: the full bar, the throbbing dance floor, and some of the city's best DJs.
Tequila Ranch: 1229 West 6th St., 216-566-8226. Take one part cowboy bar, one part nightclub, add a booze staple from south of the border and one mechanical bull. Mix, and you've got a night at the Ranch.
Touch Supper Club: 2710 Lorain Ave., 216-631-5200. Touch's DJs spin the freshest cuts in town. They'll also play stuff you've heard, but the DJs here pride themselves on the funk, soul, indie rock, and dance remixes that never hit the Top 40.
Velvet Dog: 1280 West 6th St., 216-664-1116. This roomy club specializes in the latest pop, rock, and dance jams. There's no pretension here — just DJs slapping booty-shaking tunes on the tables all night.
View Ultra-Lounge and Nightclub: 618 Prospect Ave., 216-664-1815. This upscale lounge prides itself on a large wine and cocktail menu. Multiple dance floors blast the freshest club cuts.
Fat Fish Blue: 21 Prospect Ave., 216-875-6000. Fat Fish does blues and more, served with New Orleans-inspired food and a Mardi Gras atmosphere. Occasional touring blues artists perform, in between evenings with local blues and rootsy rock.
House of Swing: 4490 Mayfield Rd., S. Euclid, 216-382-2771. Every week, a mix of blues and jazz bands plays this House, with guest DJs taking turns spinning those oh-so-cool vintage records.
Nighttown: 12387 Cedar Rd., Cleveland Hts., 216-795-0550. The city's best jazz club books headliners from every corner of the genre. The dining room where acts perform was recently redesigned for even better sound and sightlines.
Northside: 111 N. Main St., Akron, 330-434-0611. There's no shortage of history in this venerable Akron bar — and plenty of classic rock and blues performers too.
Parkview Nite Club: 1261 West 58th St., 216-961-1341. Some of the city's top players belt out a soundtrack of classic blues and R&B from their perch tucked away in the corner.
Savannah Bar & Grille: 30676 Detroit Rd., Westlake, 440-892-2266. A good-time blues bar extraordinaire, the Savannah lures graybeards and decked-out cougars to its dance floor.
Wilbert's: 812 Huron Rd. E., 216-902-GOOD. Wilbert's mixes local acts with touring artists trying to get a toehold in town. Blues, rock, folk, reggae, and jam bands all mingle here, so you're never sure what you'll hear.
Velvet Tango Room: 2095 Columbus Rd., 216-241-8869. Stride past its unassuming exterior and you'll find that the Tango Room is all about elegance — that, and impeccably well-mixed drinks. Live music revolves around standards, piano jazz, and laid-back jams.
Wonder Bar: 2044 E. 4th St., 216-298-4050. This mellow East Fourth St. bar packs a bunch of different styles on its stage every week — everything from reggae and blues to jazz and R&B. On weekends, DJs take over for the late shift.