Rock On: Where to See Live Music in THE BLOCKS Right Now

Oh, live music, how we’ve missed thee. For many, catching a soloist, band or DJ performance in the intimate setting of a bar or nightclub allows a connection to both performers and the energy of others that just can’t be replicated on Zoom. Thankfully, as more and more Utahns get vaccinated, bars and clubs throughout THE BLOCKS are bringing Utah’s deep well of local musical talent back to their stages. For a long-awaited dose of locally grown tunes, check out one of these five fine establishments. (Note: please call before you go as some venues require reservations, limited party size and mask wearing.)      

image of musical artist at Lake Effect Bar

The beautifully sophisticated interior at Lake Effect (155 W. 200 South) is a fitting backdrop to the intimate live music performances held there every night of the week.
Sink into one of Lake Effect’s cozy, tufted-leather booths and order a Bee’s Knees or Honeycomb from the bar’s new spring cocktail menu—along with a small plate from the Asian-inspired appetizer menu—while you listen to some of the region’s best musicians, including jazz practitioners, whom play Lake Effect every Wednesday night.  

Image of the band Pixie and the Party Grass Boys performing

The sweeping rooftop patio at Gracie’s (326 S. West Temple) is THE place to be for happy hour, dinner or late night drinks in the spring, summer and fall. Throw in the live music booked there four nights a week and—voila—you’ve got a party! Our favorite night to pay a visit to Gracie’s is Tuesday when the self-described “ski bum and hippie” band, Pixie & the Partygrass Boys, brings their funky bluegrass-pop-rock-punk hybrid sound to the bar’s outdoor stage (or indoors, in cold/rainy weather) from 7 – 10 p.m. 

Facade of Tavernacle piano bar

If you’ve never been to a dueling piano show, then it’s high time that you checked out either  Keys on Main (242 S. Main) or the Tavernacle Social Club (201 E. 300 South). At each venue, a pair of virtuoso piano players exchange musical and comedic potshots to the delight of the audience. Expect the kind of fun and laughs that you might experience sitting in on a taping of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

Image of DJ at Twist Bar

Some of Salt Lake City’s most creative DJs play on Fridays and Saturdays at Twist Bar & Bistro (32 Exchange Place), an iconic bar with a distinct industrial vibe on Salt Lake City’s historic Exchange Place. Groove to local turntablists like DJ Robot Dream (Who plays sax as part of his show!) and DJ Bangarang inside the two-level 100-year-old boiler room bar or outside on the patio. Stay tuned for the return of bands at Twist on Wednesday and Thursday nights.     

Though it’s not housed in a brick-and-mortar venue, we can’t help giving a plug here for the Salt Lake Concert Cruise. This moveable musical feast was conceived last year in reaction to the pandemic and has now become one of downtown’s most unique things to do. Here’s how it works: five local musicians and/or bands are stationed at different locations to perform pop-up style shows for attendees. “Cruisers” are placed in two different limited capacity groups that cycle together between venues throughout the evening; each venue stop will feature a 20-minute performance. Tickets for the next Cruise, scheduled for May 8 and that will feature the music of David Bowie, are $35 and are available now at Each ticket comes with a $1 day passcode good for a GREENBike on the day of the event.  

By Melissa Fields