Four places I’ve seen live music in Baltimore — and other venues I want to check out

Published on: September 02, 2022 6:00 AM EDT

Full of Hell opens for Integrity at the Metro Gallery in Baltimore on Jan. 12, 2019.
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I keep a running list in Google Docs.

Since 2015, I’ve been to dozens of concerts and seen at least 368 bands, mostly indie rock, hardcore and metal. The number does not include artists I’ve seen more than one time in that period, and I’m probably significantly undercounting opening acts.

For the past 7 1/2 years, I lived in York, Pennsylvania, which is about 30 minutes south of the state capital, Harrisburg. Philadelphia was — and remains (sorry!) — my go-to place to catch live music, with venues including the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, Johnny Brenda’s, PhilaMOCA and Union Transfer.

Every now and then, though, I’d make the 55-minute drive down Interstate 83.

Here are some of the venues that I’ve been to so far — and others that I want to check out — now that I’ve moved to Baltimore:

Easily my favorite place at this point to see live music in Baltimore.

The Ottobar opened at its original location at 203 East Davis St. in 1997. It was inside what was previously the Chambers nightclub, which isn’t far from the Battle Monument. The current space in Charles Village dates to 2001.

Intimate venue. Dive bar. Good sound. Reasonable ticket prices. What more do you want?

Address: 2549 North Howard St., Baltimore.

Some bands I’ve seen at the Ottobar: War On Women, Bully, Hop Along, Caroline Rose, Open City, Soul Glo, Young Guv, Narrow Head, Bat Fangs, Sunflower Bean, Imperial Triumphant.

Upcoming shows of interest to me: Bully (Sept. 3). Thursday with Anthony Green (Sept. 19). Bonny Doon (Sept. 23). Pinkshift (Oct. 20). Illuminati Hotties (Oct. 21). Algernon Cadwallader (Oct. 25). Genocide Pact (Nov. 10).

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The Metro Gallery opened in 2007 in the Station North Arts District as an art gallery, bar and concert venue.

With some exceptions, I prefer smaller spaces. I recently caught A Giant Dog, a rock band from Austin, Texas, tear it up on a Tuesday night — the first time I’d been back to the venue since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Address: 1700 North Charles St., Baltimore.

Some bands I’ve seen at the Metro Gallery: Full of Hell, Integrity, Kississippi, Mannequin Pussy, A Giant Dog.

Upcoming shows of interest to me: D.R.I. (Sept. 13).

Yes, I know, it’s an obvious choice.

But Rams Head Live!, located at Power Plant Live, draws notable artists. Even at a sold-out show, in my experience, it’s easy to find a place with good sightlines, particularly on the higher levels.

Address: 20 Market Place, Baltimore.

Some I’ve seen at Rams Head Live!: The Wonder Years, Tigers Jaw, Jay Som, Mitski, Lucy Dacus, Amyl and the Sniffers.

Upcoming shows of interest to me: Courtney Barnett (Sept. 10). PUP (Sept. 22). The Menzingers (Nov. 11).

Baltimore Soundstage seems to draw a number of metal tours each year. I caught one day of Maryland Deathfest there in 2016.

The downside: it can be tough to see toward the back of the venue if you’re like me and generously 5 feet 6 inches.

Address: 124 Market Place, Baltimore.

Some I’ve seen at Baltimore Soundstage: Ringworm, Tragedy, Creeping Death, Devil Master, Power Trip, Turnstile, Municipal Waste, Circle Jerks, GWAR, Eyehategod, Napalm Death.

Upcoming shows of interest to me: The Mountain Goats (Sept. 4). The Get Up Kids (Sept. 27). Japanese Breakfast (Sept. 30). GWAR (Nov. 3).

Places I want to check out

  • The 8x10
  • Joe Squared
  • The Lyric Performing Arts Center
  • Pier Six Pavilion
  • The Merriweather Post Pavilion

Are there any other concert venues that I should experience in Baltimore? Independent guitar shops? Music suggestions? Feel free to email or reach out on Twitter @dylan_segelbaum.