Take a nighttime walk down Commonwealth Ave. on the far end of Boston University’s campus and you’re bound to see a throng of teens and 20-somethings strung down the block waiting for a show. The old movie theater-style marquee might make you think that an indie cinematic haven lies inside, but killer live shows are the Paradise Rock Club‘s specialty.
The venue has been a longtime fan-favorite for its intimate setting and top-notch selection of artists. U2 played their first Boston show here in 1981, and the tradition of great rock continues as Arctic Monkeys played an exclusive show here last fall before going on to play at larger venues across America (eventually returning to Boston’s Agganis Arena). It’s not just those fans who will find a reason to rock out; Paradise showcases an eclectic blend of EDM, alternative, and hip-hop artists from RL Grimes to Passion Pit to G-Eazy.
Enter the cozy venue and you’ll find a full-length bar along the back and floor space that can supposedly fit up to 933. Paradise is wide — but not deep — and affords good visibility from all sides (if you can avoid the two large metal pillars that fall in the middle section). During the more popular shows, personal space is not much of a possibility as the crowd crushes in from the sides, and the average performance vibe is that of a basement rave: energetic and wild. For those seeking a better view, you might prefer to perch on the balcony that runs along the back wall and, because of the venue’s dimensions, still offers excellent proximity to the performance.
The majority of artists who come through have cult followings but haven’t quite attained the level of mainstream fame that would catapult them to a House of Blues show. Still, there are great shows here every night of the week. It’s no surprise this venue has survived since 1977; it’s a true music lover’s paradise.
Price: Most ticket prices range between $18-30
Closest T Stop: Pleasant St (Green Line B)
What it is: Small setting to see artists with a cult-like following
What it’s not: An arena-style venue with enough space that you won’t be accidentally elbowed
Most likely to: Engage in a venue-wide moshpit
Least likely to: Come out frowning