FIELD GUIDE

SOUND CHECK

Our little music hub is totally underrated, and has one big thing going for it: great stages

The Florida Theatre
Dennis Ho
Posted

From velvet-lined seats in marbled halls to dive bar floors that stink and stick with sweat and booze, our little music hub is totally underrated, and has one big thing going for it: great stages. Here’s the skinny on some of Northeast Florida’s best music stops.

1904 MUSIC HALL
19 N. Ocean St., Downtown, 1904musichall.com

Telltale bookings: Rev Theory, Saving Abel, The Fritz
Beer: Large selection of beer and wine.
Sound: Great. The venue’s invested in a solid PA system and (more important) a sound guy who gives a damn.
Sightlines: Good. The stage is tall, so you get a good view of the band wherever you’re standing.
The Regulars: Definitely a younger crowd.
Notes: This intimately sized venue books big talent and fills fast, so be prepared to pack in tight and sweat from places you didn’t know you could.

BURRO BAR
100 E. Adams St., Downtown, 353-4686, burrobarjax.com

Telltale bookings: Leverage Models, Diarrhea Planet, Glitterpiss
Beer: Fresh from the can.
Sound: Surprisingly good.
Sightlines: If the average turnout was more than 15 to 20 people, it might be an issue. As is, there’s plenty of room to stand like strangers in an elevator.
The Regulars: Young adults looking to stake listenership to a band before it blows up.
Notes: It’s a neat little venue that books a very mixed bag of artists each week at a very low door charge (usually $5). The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed.

FREEBIRD LIVE
200 N. First St., Jacksonville Beach, 246-2473, freebirdlive.com

Telltale bookings: Against Me!, Reel Big Fish, Underoath, The Supervillains
Beer: Head upstairs.
Sound: Very good.
Sightlines: When the bottom floor fills up, it can be difficult to see the stage. There’s a balcony on the second floor that offers a great view, but you’ve got to show up early to claim that real estate.
The Regulars: Younger crowd, depending on the act.
Notes: This venue books a great mix of local and “big ticket” touring acts. It’s right on top of the beach but there’s no re-entry, so no hopping in the surf between sets.

JACK RABBITS
1528 Hendricks Ave., San Marco, 398-7496, jaxlive.com

Telltale bookings: Aaron Carter, Ying Yang Twins, The Vibrators, The Dead Kennedys
Beer: Beer and Wine.
Sound: Sufficiently loud.
Sightlines: The stage is tall, but also very small. There are poles and sound equipment that can hinder a view of the band, depending on where you’re standing.
The Regulars: Inked-up kids.
Notes: If you can locate the joint, which is hidden behind a simple door in the wall, this venue features a great mix of local and touring talent with a typically low $10 door charge.

MURRAY HILL THEATRE
932 Edgewood Ave. S., Murray Hill, 388-3179, murrayhilltheatre.com

Telltale bookings: Animals as Leaders, RED, Sent by Ravens
Beer: No alcohol here, but they’ve got a café inside that serves about everything else.
Sound: Great. Very professional sound system.
Sightlines: Big stage with a show floor that slopes up, so you can mostly see from wherever you stand. Plenty of seating and stuff to lean against.
The Regulars: Primarily teenagers and some young adults with an affinity for loud, aggressive music (probably a redundant statement).
Notes: This all-ages nonprofit venue caters to the Christian modern music scene with a friendly, accessible staff, and regularly books a great mix of talent.

PONTE VEDRA CONCERT HALL
1050 A1A N., Ponte Vedra Beach, 209-0399, pvconcerthall.com

Telltale bookings: Boston, The Zombies, Tegan and Sara
Beer: Sure, if you tire of wine and liquor.
Sound: Excellent, regardless of seat. The natural acoustics of the hall sound great; the place was built with music in mind.
Sightlines: Assigned seats are strictly enforced, and the floor isn’t staggered by height. It can be difficult to see from the back few rows.
The Regulars: The talent booked here often caters to an older, more affluent audience, but they do offer shows for those crazy kids, too (see Tegan and Sara).
Notes: The venue’s staff can be strict, but they maintain a quality of sound inside the hall that is absolutely worth it.

ST. AUGUSTINE AMPHITHEATRE
1340C A1A, St. Augustine, 209-3759, staugamphitheatre.com

Telltale bookings: Fall Out Boy, Weezer, Kings of Leon, Switchfoot
Beer: Yes.
Sound: Great.
Sightlines: Not a bad seat in the house.
The Regulars: The big-ticket shows usually attract people from nearby cities.
Notes: With beaches, parks and the old fort nearby, this outdoor venue is a great way to cap off a day trip to The Ancient City.

SEAWALK PAVILION
75 N. First St., Jacksonville Beach, 247-6268, jacksonvillebeach.org

Telltale booking: Selwyn Birchwood
Beer: Hunt down the nearest trailer with a tap.
Sound: For an outdoor venue, pretty good.
Sightlines: If you pay extra for premium seating, great. Otherwise the public area feels removed.
The Regulars: Just beach folk passing through.
Notes: The festivals are usually free, and it’s hard to complain about the sound when you’re a few yards from the ocean.

THE FLORIDA THEATRE
128 E. Forsyth St., Downtown, 355-5661, floridatheatre.com

Telltale bookings: John Legend, Queens of the Stone Age, Bill Maher, Merle Haggard
Beer: Yep. Wine and some booze, too.
Sound: Great.
Sightlines: It’s a seated theater, so if the person in front of you stands, you’re staring at thighs.
The regulars: Varies, depending on the artist.
Notes: If it sells, it books; this scenic, historic venue hosts anything from orchestral music to thrashy stoner rock to The Wiggles.

THE T-U CENTER’S MORAN THEATER
300 W. Water St., Downtown, 633-6110, jaxevents.com

Telltale bookings: Jack White, Ringo Starr
Beer: Yes.
Sound: Very good.
Sightlines: Good. Standard theater seating gives a great view from most seats in the house.
The Regulars: Young professionals and families. Most events here make a great night out.
Notes: It’s interesting to see more music artists take the stage at this primarily performance arts venue.

UNDERBELLY
113 E. Bay St., Downtown, 699-8186,
underbellylive.com
Telltale bookings: SUNBEARS!, Brian Johnson (of AC/DC), David Dondero
Beer: Suck back 25-cent PBRs on Tuesdays.
Sound: Good, solid PA system that’s very accommodating for rock bands.
Sightlines: The stage height is short, so show up early for a good spot.
The Regulars: The bands and bar atmosphere attract young to middle-aged adults.
Notes: There’s always something going on here, and shows can run late into the evening.

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