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Top Places in State College to See Live Music

State College isn’t in short supply of live music, but finding it is sometimes a challenge. While some venues, like the BJC, are well known for putting on great shows, others take a bit of searching.

From bars to bookstores — here’s a guide listing some of the best spots in town to see live music:

The Bryce Jordan Center 

This one is a given. If you’re looking to see big names in music, such as hip hop legend Kanye West — who is bringing his Yeezus tour to the BJC next month, then this is the place for you. And there are usually big student discounts for tickets.


The HUB isn’t just a place to wait between classes, it’s actually a great place to see some free music. The majority of SPA-sponsored music events are held in the Alumni Hall and are open to all students. You can also stop by around lunchtime on Fridays to see smaller performances while you chow down on your Chick-fil-A.

alumhallperNico Vega performing in the HUB Alumni Hall in 2013


As a college town, State College has a thriving local bar scene. If you want to see some local music, then bars such as Cafe 210 West and Darkhorse Tavern are where you want to be. If you’re looking for some larger scale performances from more prominent musicians, check out Levels.

State Theatre

If musical theater is more your scene then head over to the State Theatre. The theater has anything from opera to tap dancing and anything in between. You can look at its website for upcoming events.

Chronic Town

Yes, the hookah bar. While Chronic Town is better known for satisfying people’s smoking needs, it’s also a fantastic spot to hear live music. They have shows pretty frequently, oftentimes featuring local and student bands. It’s just big enough to house a substantial crowd but maintain an intimate atmosphere.

Abba Java Coffee House (Locust Lane)

In addition to serving up free coffee to students, this basement coffee shop also offers music performances on select days. Check out its schedule for updates.

House Shows

Some of the best live performances you will see in town are at house shows, which is exactly what it sound like — music being performed in the middle of someone’s house. One of the best examples of this is the Liza Minnelli House, a student-run music hotspot that has gained a substantial following. Clubs such as Asylum, an alternative music club, often organize house shows that are free or super cheap. For the price, it doesn’t get much better.

insidelizaPerformance at the Liza Minnelli House, via their Facebook page.

Webster’s Bookstore (133 E. Beaver Ave.)

This bookstore/record store combo not only serves up some delectable coffee, but also some awesome open mic nights the first Thursday of every month. In addition to music, there are also other performances like poetry readings.

Houseasaurus Co-op (833 W. College Ave)

This co-op has been one of the best spots to see indie/alternative music for years. Though it’s a bit far from campus, it’s certainly worth the trip. There’s always a cool atmosphere and a super enthusiastic crowd.

Club-sponsored Events

Come Spring, campus will have a number of club-sponsored events like SOMA’s Arts Crawl, which features a musical and artistic performances in the Visual Arts Building. Best of all, these shows are usually free.

arts crawl 2012Performance at Arts Crawl 2012

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About the Author

Sarah Caskie

Sarah is a senior majoring in Journalism. She can usually be found at Saint’s looking up cat videos, or writing about music and stuff. She can be reached on Twitter at @classycaskie or via email at [email protected]


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