The Best Underground Music Venues, State by State
After featuring 25 essential clubbing destinations for house and techno in Asia, it’s now time to highlight our very own underground dance music scene here in the States.
While we originally narrowed down our list to 23 essential underground dance music destinations, we recently expanded it to a total of 30 venues you should take the time to visit for techno and house here in the United States. Here they are in alphabetical order by city:
Underground dance music lovers need to check out Kingdom in downtown Austin. Concentrating on high quality sounds, lights, and architecture, Kingdom has built stern standards to make sure guests and visitors enjoy the finest club experience.
Their upcoming calendar is packed with shows featuring Barclay Crenshaw, Worthy, Fur Coat, Dubfire, MK, Christian Martin and many more.
Underground lives at Plus in Austin, proving that the city and Texas as a state is on the up-and-up when it comes to house and techno. Armed with a powerful sound system and a relaxed atmosphere, Plush highlights key local underground dance artists while welcoming guests on a regular basis, all the while hosting successful weekly nights such as Vagabond and Steady Rhythm.
The Boston Bijou Theater opened on Washington Street in 1882 as the first American playhouse lit entirely by electricity. The electrical system was installed and supervised personally by Thomas Edison. Flash forward 129 years and Bijou Nightclub came back ready to entertain the Boston area’s fans of techno and house.
The list of upcoming events is a testament to the club’s undying focus on underground dance music: Carl Craig, Lee Burrdige, Way Out West, Detlef, Shiba San and MK.
A basement club located in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood, Primary gives you access to the world’s best house and techno, and underground dance music, boasting a massive dance floor paired with an oversize LED wall, a boutique Void sound system and an excellent craft beer selection rarely seen in a nightclub ever. Owned by a crowd of music veterans, Primary it is no doubt one of the essential underground dance music venues in the United States.
In the coming months alone the club will feature sets by Chus + Ceballos, Monoloc, Supernova and Technasia.
If you are in search for a venue that is straight underground-focused, with no table service and a powerful sound system then look no further than Smartbar. A club with 30-plus years of history, Smartbar is a true music institution not just in Chicago but in the entire country. The club nurtures a residency program that has often been touted as one of the best in the world: The Godfather of House, the late Frankie Knuckles, was a resident at Smartbar for many years, recently joined by the likes of The Black Madonna, Chrissy, Derrick Carter, Michael Serafini Garrett David, DJ Heather, Jason Kendig and Jeff Derringer just to name a few.
Featuring everything from Chicago house to dark techno, and drum and bass to acid, Smartbar regularly books some of the best acts in the international touring circuit, as evidenced by some of the names scheduled to drop in for sets in the coming months: Nina Kraviz, Mike Huckaby, Tiga, Cassy, Heidi and Soul Clap.
Located literally underground in the city’s River North neighborhood, Spybar has been catering to underground house, tech house and techno for the last 20 years, with heavy focus on local acts as well as a deep roster of international guest acts.
The club was included in Rolling Stone‘s list of the best dance clubs in the country:
A $1 million renovation a few years back made this intimate River North party paradise sweeter than ever. Top DJs spin here regularly, and during Lollapalooza weekend in August, big-name electronic bands such as M83 spill into nighttime club sets. “Great vibe,” says Seth Troxler. “Basically the only place I play in Chicago.”
In the last year alone, the club has featured big names such as Richie Hawtin, Seth Troxler, Nic Fanciulli, drumcell, Dusky, Magda, Guti and Maya Jane Coles.
A spectacular four-floor dance venue which boasts multiple LED screens and a Funktion One sound system, Club Vinyl offers four dance floors in total and four types of music each night. Depending on which day you visit and what floor you pick, their music choices ranges from house, techno, salsa, hip-hop, latin, and some ’80s and ’90s hits. With an indoor and outdoor rooftop patio which caters a relaxing atmosphere with fire pits, hookahs and an amazing view of the city, it easily claims its spot on our list of essential underground dance music venues in the United States thanks to a great selection of techno and house parties always in rotation.
If their upcoming calendar is anything to go by, with Derrick Carter, Thugfucker, Damian Lazarus, Lee Foss and Skream all playing in the next 30 days, Vinyl is the destination venue for underground dance music listeners in Denver.
A Detroit nightlife staple, a trip to The Works translates to a true gritty and warehouse feel experience. The club comes alive every Movement Detroit weekend, featuring some of the best heavy and experimental techno showcased in the entire city during the busy weekend. It is also the regular home of Blank Code’s Scene parties, a series of locally-run events that showcase the best in the worldwide techno scene including Edit Select, Traversable Wormhole, Kyle Geiger, Sterac/Steve Rachmad, Ben Klock, drumcell and more
Coined as the “cheers” of Detroit, TV Lounge is a place run by friendly and accommodating people who wouldn’t mind you dancing all night to local DJs playing techno and house music, but in fact encourage it on plenty of weekends. Probably one of the best house music bar in Detroit, TV Lounge is truly one of the essential underground dance music venues in the United States,
As with most Detroit venues, TV Lounge lights up with events during Movement’s Memorial Day Weekend take-over of the city, but also regularly hosts Paxahau’s year-round selection of shows with artists such as Seth Troxler, Ardalan, Carl Craig, Benjamin Damage, Kate Simko and more making recent appearances.
We have previously written a more in-depth article about Asylum Afterhours. Being one of the pillars of house and techno music in Hawaii, they are without a doubt one of the essential underground dance music venues in the United States.
Located in Honolulu on the island of O’ahu, the most urbanized of the Hawaiian Islands, Asylum Afterhours is at the forefront of a burgeoning house and techno scene. Through their intimate venue and record label, Asylum Confidential, they’ve become the most influential group in Hawaii when it comes to underground dance music. There wasn’t much of an electronic dance scene in Honolulu let alone a thriving underground; but when there’s a will there’s a way. Under the ownership of Darren Zane and Willis Haltom, Asylum Afterhours has made a deep impact in the musical and cultural landscape surrounding the area.
Shaun Reeves, Willis Haltom, and Sergio Santos are just some of the many DJs that are booked to play at Asylum Afterhours. Check out their upcoming events list to find out more.
Located in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, Lot 613 offers a vast space with two warehouse rooms and an outside patio perfect for mingling and taking a breather in between sets. It has a unique industrial design which makes the place an ideal location for special occasions and events, a venue that truly provides a warehouse vibe for underground house and techno lineups.
The multi-purpose venue is rented out by promoters for a wide-variety of different shows. More recent events have included performances by DJ Harvey, Magda, The Black Madonna, Daniel Avery, Andrew Weatherhall, Kobosil and DVS1.
As you could have guessed by the name, Sound boasts a solid sound system custom-made for the club. The venue features art installations, an intricate system of lighting and decorations and even serves food for late-night revelers in search of a quick bite to recharge their batteries.
Situated in busy Hollywood, just a block from the famed boulevard, the club has hosted some of the most celebrated names in techno and house, including Jamie Jones, Marco Carola, Chris Liebing, Pete Tong, Eric Prydz and Sasha in the past few months alone..
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