Though Miami might be able to claim acts like Camila Cabello and Pitbull as their own, Broward and West Palm Beach County have plenty of their own talent to brag about. From the obvious names — including Jason Derulo, Ariana Grande and New Found Glory — to acts like Gouge Away that started in Fort Lauderdale and now headline national tours, these cities know their music. And with good bands come a selection of smaller venues that host up-and-coming acts and foster the music community in South Florida.
Here are our top ten venues in Broward and Palm Beach.
1. Beer Punx. Located inside one of Fort Lauderdale’s up-and-coming new districts, Beer Punx is a taproom, art space and venue. The space — which is tucked into MASS Art District’s The Hive — has been hosting a mix of metal, alternative and indie shows since it opened in June 2017. Though the venue’s owner, Wyatt Lawless, focuses on spotlighting local bands, the young venue gets its share of touring acts, too. Acts like South Florida metal group Amenorrhea and Miami indie group Birthday Wish are both slated to play this September. 920 N Flagler Drive, Fort Lauderdale; firstname.lastname@example.org; beerpunx.com
2. Cash Only. Despite the name, Cash Only actually does take credit cards. The venue opened two years ago and is lauded for how many things go on at once. Between the venue’s three rooms — a mainstage, a lounge and a bar — DJs and live acts are constantly being programmed. From a HiFi set one day to Afrobeats the next, Cash Only is where you go when you want a club setting without all the velvet ropes. Instead, the lounge area more resembles the basement on That 70’s Show. 15 W Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale; 954-299-3295; cashonlybar.com
3. Laser Wolf. Besides offering specialty microbrews, this beer bar is also known for opening its courtyard to some of the county’s favorite local acts. When Laser Wolf first opened in 2011, New Times compared the venue’s events to house parties. Seven years later, that vibe stays true with DJs in the corner and bands taking over the beer closet. The bar is located where NE Fourth Ave. meets the train tracks in Fort Lauderdale. 901 Progresso Drive, Fort Lauderdale; 954-667-9373; laserwolf.bar
4. Radio-Active Records. In addition to selling local bands’ records in a devoted section, Radio-Active Records also hosts live shows. The Fort Lauderdale shop on N. Federal Highway has welcomed bands for years; it even had a stage in its old location. Now, the hipper, swankier shop just clears a few aisles and welcomes a mix of local and touring groups — especially when they host album release parties. In addition, RAR hosts DJs, artist meet and greets and book signings. 845 N Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale; 954-762-9488; facebook.com/RadioActiveRecords
5. O’Malley’s Sports Bar. At a first glance, O’Malley’s seems like a run of the mill sports bar in a Margate shopping plaza. It’s littered with pool tables, neon, flat screens and a stripper pole. But on an unassuming weekday night, everything changes and nationally recognized artists take on the few-feet-tall stage welcoming underage kids and push-pits. Acts like Four Year Strong, Tigers Jaw and Title Fight have all graced the sports bar’s stage. In addition, local acts also get their moment in spotlight, with O’Malley’s serving as an unexpected hub for the South Florida hardcore scene. 1388 SR 7, Margate; 954-979-8540; ticketfly.com/venue/16123-omalleys
6. Dada. Where else can you get roasted duck in an onion-raisin marmalade or bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese and chorizo while catching a local show? Dada is a West Palm Beach restaurant owned by the Subculture Group — which also owns Subculture Coffee and Howley’s Diner, to name a few. Over the years, Dada has hosted bands, acoustic sets, open-mics and comedy nights. A winning perk is that the venue’s shows run late, as does its kitchen. 52 N Swinton Avenue, Delray Beach; 561-330-3232; sub-culture.org/dada
7. Voltaire. This West Palm Beach venue has officially been slinging craft cocktails and sushi for a year now. Voltaire recently celebrated its one-year anniversary with a multi-day music festival. The old school, 18th century inspired venue — that looks like a place the author it gets its name from would be cozy at — hosts local indie and touring bands and according to the space’s Marketing Manager, Steve Rullman, it’s only going to happen more within the next year. “More and more touring bands, showcases, tastings, parties and special events,” Rullman recently told New Times. He said patrons can also expect comedy, Ted Talks and burlesque shows; 526 Clematis Street, West Palm Beach; 561-408-5603; sub-culture.org/voltaire
8. Kelsey Theater. This is the theater that could make Lake Park sort of cool. The 500-person theater hosts a mix of indie and emo acts, as well as burlesque shows and film screenings. It’s located in the city’s downtown district and when there isn’t a show going on, patrons can catch a movie alongside jumbo pretzels and popcorn from the concession stand. Kelsey Theater has hosted national acts including Turnover, Have Mercy and even the Rebirth Brass Band. 700 Park Avenue, Lake Park; 561-328-7481; www.thekelseytheater.com
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9. Respectable Street. For over two decades, Respectable Street has served as the go-to venue on Clematis. What used to be a Salvation Army building was renovated into the familiar space with the old couches and checkered floors we know and love today. The venue hosts local and national acts, with alumni including The Damned and Big D and the Kids Table. 518 Clematis Street, West Palm Beach; 561-832-9999; sub-culture.org/respectable-street
10. Original Fat Cats. A true dive bar, the Original Fat Cats is known for its cheap beer and nightly live music. The venue is covered in old memorabilia and band stickers collected over the 15-year-span the space has been open. And when they say “live music every night,” they really mean it. From punk and rockabilly to ska and reggae, if you want a guaranteed live set, this Fort Lauderdale classic is always dependable. 320 Himmarshee Street, Fort Lauderdale; 954-467-5867; facebook.com/originalfatcats