Detroit just doesn’t feel like “Motown” when you can’t see live performances. The rush of the crowd, the power of performance, and the intimacy of a small venue are a noticed absence in my life during a pandemic. I love concerts. I love live music but what makes a show a true experience isn’t solely the consequence of the performers involved but also the venue hosting. I want to take time and appreciate the buildings I have taken for granted for so long and highlight the places I am looking forward to visiting most once concerts are safe to attend again.
1. Andrew’s Hall (AKA “The Shelter”) (431 E Congress St, Detroit, MI 48226) IG: @standrewshall
This century-old, 1,000 person hall is a staple of Detroit. This is where artists on the cusp of major success have played for decades. Acts range in genre and a good time is guaranteed. The Shelter also features a bar, and balcony. To share this history of this legendary venue would require an entire documentary but it’s legacy is felt as soon as you enter the building.
2. Deluxx Fluxx (1274 Library St, Detroit, MI 48226) IG: @deluxxfluxx
At only 2 years old this venue has certainly made an impact and is a must-see for casual, night time, entertainment downtown. Located on the north end of the artist’s alley named “The Belt”, this bar and venue host the iconic backlit wall, bar, small arcade and serves as a nightclub. Deluxx has a “blink and you’ll miss it” feel when downtown but make sure this on is added to your list when planning your next outing in Detroit.
3. UFO Factory (2110 Trumbull, Detroit, MI 48216) IG: @UFOFACTORY
A smaller venue located in Corktown, Detroit, that features indie/experimental/avant-garde acts. The UFO factory also hosts art installations and is a pretty great hangout spot. In addition to being a live music venue, it also serves as a restaurant, featuring their famous “Laika Dog Kitchen” (which serves hotdogs, fries, tots, sandwiches, etc.). It flies under the radar but when visiting the city, make sure you put this one on your list.
4. The Majestic Theatre Center (4140 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201) IG: @majesticdetroit
Another century-old venue, The Majestic is located in Midtown, Detroit. Sat next to Garden Bowl Bowling Alley, this venue is a cozy 1,100 capacity hall that hosts acts of all genres. The stage sits high enough to accommodate most viewing angles on the standing room floor. Additionally, this venue is in my opinion the most accessible when it comes to on-street parking. When your favorite indie-band comes to town, they are probably playing at The Majestic.
5. The Sanctuary (2932 Caniff St, Hamtramck, MI 48212) IG: @sanctuarydetroit
The Sanctuary is the only venue featured that is not located within Detroit City limits. This venue is more akin to a dive bar than a concert venue. However, do not let that deter you from seeing the young bands that Metro Detroit has to offer. Acts typically play punk or metal music but the energy and electricity can be enjoyed by all.
Live entertainment and concert venues have of course suffered due to the safety measures put in place to protect citizens and prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. However, you can still support your favorite venues. Most venues (and all of the entries mentioned) are also bars/restaurants, meaning carry-out is an option. Additionally, venues still host virtual concerts or may even have a go-fund me in place so that supporters can contribute to their on-going success. These are local businesses and if they have, in any measure, brought you joy in the past then please consider supporting them so we can enjoy them again in the future.
So what’s your favorite concert venue in local or metro Detroit? Who are you looking forward to seeing in the future? What do you miss about seeing live performances?