When trying to find apartments for rent in different cities, one of the biggest draws to a particular town is its music scene. But no matter how long you browse through apartment listings, you won’t find any good information on a city’s music scene within. While any city is never more than a few hours away from its next live concert, there are many factors which can really improve its reputation as being a music haven.
What makes a great music town? If a city was a birthplace of a particular genre of music, if it has amazing music venues on every corner, if it’s the origin for many influential bands….the list goes on. While these factors are great individually, some lucky cities feature the more of them simultaneously.
Without further ado, here are the 3 most outstanding musical cities in America, with notes about where their local movement shave been, what the future holds, and where to live if you want to be a part of these great civic cultures.
New York City, NY
New York City really has it all. Bands flock to it to carve a bite out of the Big Apple’s prodigious music scene. This whole music thing isn’t new for New York City, either. Starting with Tin Pan Alley at the outset of the 20th century, New York City has been the epicenter to more forms of music than any other American city.
Genres like Blues, Jazz, American Folk, Punk, and Disco have all had New York City as a hotbed at some point in their existence. It is also the undeniable birthplace of Hip Hop, one of the most popular musical forms in the world today.
New York City has produced some of the most famous acts in American music history, and is still thriving today.
Where NYC Music has Been:
In 1979, pioneering group the Sugarhill Gang released the first rap song to achieve mainstream success in “Rapper’s Delight,” thus paving the way for future NYC Hip Hop icons like Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z to make their mark on the genre:
Sugarhill Gang- Rapper’s Delight
New York City is also widely known as a hub for the Indie music scene, thanks in large part to wildly popular bands like the Talking Heads. Their hit song “Once in a Lifetime” is a great example of the kind of originality of many great NYC bands over the years:
The Talking Heads- Once in a Lifetime
Where NYC Music is Headed:
There are countless new bands in New York City making a name for themselves in today’s Indie music scene. One band that has been gaining attention from hipsters across America lately is Brooklyn’s Grizzly Bear:
Grizzly Bear- Two Weeks
There are also new NYC bands that demonstrate enormous influence from the city’s Disco and Punk scenes, a prime example being the immensely popular band LCD Soundsystem.
LCD Soundsystem- Dance Yrself Clean
Best Music Neighborhood: Williamsburg. This Brooklyn neighborhood has witnessed the rise of a thriving music scene in recent years. Williamsburg is the birthplace of acts like TV on the Radio, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and Scissor Sisters. There are also countless dive bars for up-and-coming bands to perform in, so you never know when you’re seeing the next big thing on a night out in Williamsburg.
Seattle is known for three things: inclement weather, mega-companies like Microsoft and Starbucks, and a musical revolution that caused the entire city to wear flannel. Despite being tucked away in a remote corner of the Pacific Northwest, Seattle has made a disproportionately large impact on American music. Guitar legend Jimi Hendrix started turning people on to Seattle music in the 1960s, and it continued to thrive in the following decades.
A cultural explosion took place in the city in the late 80s and early 90s with Seattle bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. This created an enormously successful music industry in Seattle, with acts like The Foo Fighters, Modest Mouse, and Death Cab for Cutie rising to prominence in recent years. Thanks to Sub Pop, the widely successful independent music label based in Seattle, the city shows no signs of drying up. Here’s a listen of some prime examples from the Emerald City:
Where Seattle Music has Been:
God of the Guitar Jimi Hendrix demonstrates his superhuman abilities in his 1967 hit “Little Wing.”
Jimi Hendrix- Little Wing
The song that started a music revolution that became synonymous with Seattle: Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
Nirvana- Smells Like Teen Spirit
Where Seattle Music is Headed:
The rising popularity of Band of Horses, who blend rock with a touch of country, is indicative of Seattle’s continued success in the music business.
Band of Horses- The First Song
Fleet Foxes, who quickly received international acclaim after they released their debut album in 2008, feature Beach Boys-esque harmonies that border on musical perfection:
Fleet Foxes- White Winter Hymnal
Best Music Neighborhood: Capitol Hill. This hipster’s paradise is home to countless music venues, most notably the famous dive known as Neumo’s. The tiny venue has hosted the likes of Pearl Jam, Radiohead, the Flaming Lips and many more over the years, and still hosts nightly shows to this day. Capitol Hill has had many new apartment complexes built in recent years, so finding cheap apartments for rent should be very easy in this vibrant neighborhood.
San Francisco, CA
When it comes to music scenes the San Francisco Bay Area is often overlooked. One glance at the city’s rich musical pedigree, and you’ll be at a loss to figure out why that is. As the birthplace of the counterculture movement of the 1960s, San Francisco became a hotbed for some of the most famous bands of that tumultuous decade.
While hippies flocked to Haight-Ashbury to “tune in and drop out,” iconic psychedelic bands like Jefferson Airplane, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and the Grateful Dead developed what became known as the “San Francisco Sound.” This sub-genre characteristically featured extensive improvisation in live performances and a heavy electric bass, and is still being emulated by musicians today.
In the 80s San Francisco’s music scene hit a little bit of a dry spell, but there has been resurgence lately. The famous “Hyphy” rap movement with artists like E-40 and Mac Dre allows San Francisco to have one of the nation’s most distinctive Hip Hop cultures. And the recent re-emergence of local rock bands has San Francisco looking ahead to many years filled with great new music.
Where San Francisco Music has Been:
In the 1967 album Surrealistic Pillow, a cornerstone text of hippie counterculture, Jefferson Airplane released a song that would become the anthem of the decade in “Somebody to Love.”
Jefferson Airplane- Somebody to Love
“Suzie Q,” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, offers a perfect example of the aforementioned ”San Francisco Sound.”
Creedence Clearwater Revival- Suzy Q
Where San Francisco Music is Headed:
Despite releasing their first album in 2009, Girls have an old school sound that seems firmly rooted in Northern California culture:
Girls- Lust for Life
Big Echo, the second album from San Francisco’s the Morning Benders, is definitely in the running for many “Top 10 Albums of 2010” lists.
The Morning Benders- Excuses
Best Music Neighborhood: Haight-Ashbury. While the Summer of Love was over 40 years ago, Haight-Ashbury still has a truly unique culture that is teeming with music performances. As long as you’re ok with all things hippie, Haight-Ashbury can be the perfect neighborhood to satisfy your musical cravings.
If you’re a music fan looking for a place to live, these three cities abound with musical performances and opportunities. Get out there and explore what these cities have to give, they won’t let you down.