When you think of legendary live venues in the United States, your mind probably goes to places like the Hollywood Bowl, Red Rock Amphitheater, or Madison Square Garden. Florida doesn’t actually get a lot of love on a national basis when it comes to the live music scene, but it really should. There are plenty of amazing venues that have a long history, and have either helped launch careers or have been the highlight for many A-list musicians.
Let’s take a look through the state and find some of the best venues that Florida has to offer. Whether they be massive stadiums or dive bars where you can expect to get thrown into a mosh pit, these five venues are absolutely must-sees for Floridians and visitors.
The original Amway Arena opened in early 1989 and played host to the NBA’s Orlando Magic and many notable concerts until it closed in late 2010. Many of the biggest indoor events were then switched over to the new Amway Center, which was built on Church Street and has been a tremendous upgrade since its opening. While mainly a basketball venue, there are a lot of concerts that happened between the games and in the offseason.
The Amway Center is home to some of the biggest names in the music industry both past and present and is truly the type of venue you play at when you haven’t just “made it” but have become a bona fide superstar. From the likes of Bad Bunny and Dua Lipa to Bruce Springsteen and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, there has been an endless list of platinum-selling artists.
Pretty much every major college campus throughout the United States is going to have a performance center where there are some notable names that perform, but Florida State University takes it to another level. Located in Tallahassee, Club Downunder is run by and for students and is one of those rare on-campus venues that actually has a full bar (for those who are of age, of course).
Every show that takes place in Club Downunder is completely free for students, too. Some of the bigger musical acts that have made their way Downunder include Soundgarden, the White Strips, and Modest Mouse. The good news is that you don’t even have to be an FSU student to attend a show at Club Downunder, though there may be a cost.
Earlier we mentioned the Orlando Magic, but that’s not the only NBA team in Florida that plays in an arena where some amazing concerts are also held. Though it has undergone some sponsorship name changes including American Airlines Arena and FTX Arena, Miami-Dade Arena is the base name for the Miami venue that’s home to the NBA’s Heat.
Opening on New Year’s Eve in 1999, Miami-Dade Arena is in the same boat as the Amway Center for housing some of the biggest names in music history. This includes Madonna, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, and Tina Turner, just to name a few. The MDA also hosts the Premio Lo Nuestro Latin music awards.
Returning to Orlando, The Beachem Theater on Orange Avenue reclaimed its original name in 2011. It was called The Beachem from 1921 until 1976 before it became the Great Southern Music Hall, then underwent several more name changes until 2011. As part of the downtown scene, The Beachem was saved from demolition so that it could continue to host some up-and-coming acts while also showcasing some living legends.
From rap to country to rock, The Beachem has hosted concerts for all genres. Some of the more notable musical acts that have headlined The Beachem include Pink, The Police, Judas Priest, and 50 Cent. The Beachem has even been home to professional wrestling events, making it a great hub for entertainment.
Hard Rock Stadium
You can’t talk about venues in Florida, especially music venues, without mentioning the one that has “Hard Rock” in the name. Built for the Miami Dolphins to replace The Orange Bowl in 1987, Hard Rock Stadium has undergone several name changes throughout the years including Pro Player Stadium and Joe Robbie Stadium.
Though football tends to come first for Hard Rock Stadium, it’s the perfect venue to truly show that a musical act has made its way to that “hall of fame” type of status. Just to give you an idea of how popular you have to be to sell out Hard Rock Stadium, some of the performers who have played on the field include Elton John, U2, Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, and Metallica. However, it’s Bad Bunny that set the record for most attendance at Hard Rock Stadium with over 97,000 screaming fans.