It's Friday night, you want to hear some music, but you're not sure who's playing where, how much it costs, or where you'll feel most comfortable. Right? Well, this should help: Take a look at our handy tip sheet, and everything in this crazy world will start to make a little more sense.
Wanna catch the next up-and-coming indie or garage rock band in town? You'll probably find something going on here that's right up your alley. The bar here is comfortably long, and the opportunity to drink at a booth like you're lodged in a local diner is a nice touch. DJs spin records here, giving prime opportunities to dance, if that's your thing. Others, they strum guitars, loudly.
Beer: Vast selection, with domestics and craft beers at affordable prices (ex: $3/pint of PBR)
Music: Weirdo artsy indie rock, DJs on some nights
Demographic: 21-35 years old
PJ'S LAGER HOUSE
Whether it's a showcase of local bands that draw 10 people, or a touring act playing in front of a packed room, PJ's has something going on nearly every day of the month. There's great food to stuff your face with and soak up booze following the show, and you'll generally find an easygoing crowd here.
Beer: Everything from domestics ($3/bottle; $2 can of PBR), to tasty craft beer options.
Music: Indie rock
Demographic: 21-40 years old
OK, if you're heading to the beautiful Fox, which holds at least 5,000 people, you've probably made plans for the night weeks in advance. Whether it's Neil Young, Sesame Street's live musical, or Idina Menzel, know this: eat and drink in advance, or be prepared to spend a few extra dollars.
Beer: Generally speaking, you should plan on spending $8 per can of, say, Bud or Bud Light
Music: Everything, really. Comedy, hip hop, top 40 rock, Tina Turner
Demographic: Children to the olds who want to see Rod Stewart
ROYAL OAK MUSIC THEATRE
Perhaps this could be called the Fillmore Theatre North. The Royal Oak Music Theatre has a gorgeous interior that makes it easier to aimlessly observe the room if you happen to be flying solo to a show. Here, you're afforded the opportunity to grab a seat on the main floor, which, if you're in the right location, offers one of the better views of the stage.
Beer: Mostly domestics, pricier like the Fillmore
Music: Everyone from Sonic Youth to the Butthole Surfers to top-notch comedy acts, and Bo Burnham
Demographic: You'll probably catch a diverse crowd here
MAGIC STICK/MAJESTIC THEATRE
Well, now that the Magic Stick has announced it'll transition from a rock venue to only electronic, things around here have changed. But, for decades, the Majestic Theatre complex has drawn a hip crowd of younger locals. If you can name one band or singer, it's more than likely they've played here.
Music: Electronic, indie rock, punk
Beer: Cheaper deals on cans of Stroh's; again, a vast selection to choose from
This cozy Ann Arbor room has been around for a half-century, so surely they're doing something right. Some of the most well-known names who attach the word "folk" to anything they're doing have played here. And, if you want to see Billy Bragg whenever he comes to town, just know you'll have to come here. Mr. Bragg always plays here.
Music: Folk, acoustic
Beer: The Ark has a club liquor license, so you have to become a member of the venue in order to buy booze for any show. Memberships cost as little as $5; the venue has a variety of beer on tap and what their website describes as "fine bottled beers."
THE PAINTED LADY
There's something you can appreciate about a watering hole filled with a plume of smoke in 2015. Call ahead to see if something's going on; if you do come, expect good company and a chance to fill your stomachs with delicious tacos.
Music: Precocious suburban noise, Muppet metal
Beer: Cheap, and delicious
Demographic: Anybody but your parents