Nico Vega performing at The Social (Photo: Courtesy The Social)
You can always count on Orlando theme parks to import the latest pop stars, but the true heart of the city’s music culture can be found in its independent clubs.
Whether you’re a diehard Pitchfork follower who won’t listen to any album ranked less than seven — or a casual music fan looking for an unforgettable concert — Orlando’s best venues give you a reason to draw closer to the stage.
If a band just broke, you can bet their tour is stopping at the Social, an intimate room with an array of vantage points to see the show unobscured — even if the house is packed (which it frequently is, especially when nostalgic emo bands bring their reunion tours to town). The Social’s drink specials will get you buzzed for cheap, and frequently it’s easy to stick around and meet the bands at the merch table after the show.
While Will’s Pub remains a true dive in spirit, this savvy club has its finger on the pulse of the punk and Americana underground. Make some memories while you’re there and shoot some of Will’s homemade Rusty Balls — a brave yet crass take on recreating Fireball-esque cinnamon whisky — then commemorate the night in the photo booth.
Let’s say you’re not looking to watch some dude strum his guitar all night — you want to dance. That’s where essential club Venue 578 comes in, booking massive hip-hop stars, international EDM artists and every crazy concert in between. The venue’s winding layout is almost as cool as its carefully curated concert schedule, with aerial views of the stage from lounges upstairs, VIP sections for ballers and an outdoor patio where you can get a better glimpse of all that glitters among the other concertgoers.
This stunning new venue offers a surprisingly varied concert calendar featuring music legends and hip new acts in two spectacular theaters. The glowing cavern of the Walt Disney Theater is where you’re more likely to see the likes of greats like Bob Dylan, while the stain-glassed Alexis and Jim Pugh Theater provides a more intimate setting for the latest critical darlings like Hundred Waters. Bonus: They also occasionally host free concerts in the Seneff Arts Plaza outdoors.