July 9, 2024

New Jersey – A Mecca For Live Alternative Music!

🇺🇦 Side-Line stands with Ukraine - Show your Support

If you’re in the Garden State and want to catch some live music, you’re in luck! There’s no shortage of great venues in New Jersey where you can listen to alternative music and get down to the beat!

All too often, the NJ music scene is thought to be all about Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen, but there’s actually a surprisingly vibrant and long heritage in the state of producing amazing bands across a broad spectrum of genres. Despite the demise of many of the music venues that spawned big name acts through the generations, the state still has a fantastic music scene, with Asbury Park and New Brunswick acts leading the way. Some of the best places to catch your favorite bands are listed here.

The Borgata Premier

Atlantic City might be best known for its glitzy casinos and live dealer games, but the glamorous Borgata hotel also plays host to some fantastic bands including some of the very best electronic music acts. For example this December you can catch SAVI in action at this amazing venue. 

The Court Tavern

New Brunswick is famous for its links to the music world, and although the Court Tavern was closed for a short period back in 2012, it’s back open for business hosting some of the best acts. Local bands are still cutting their teeth today in this club which has long deserved the reputation of being “the great granddaddy of New Jersey clubs”.

Asbury Lanes

This one time bowling alley is a staple in conversations about punk bands from New Jersey, and especially when discussing those which were based around Asbury Park. Asbury Lanes isn’t just a mecca for local acts, it also attracts nationally acclaimed acts too.

The Saint

If Indie music is your thing, there’s no better place to go in the Garden State to listen to live music than The Saint in Asbury Park. Although national acts come to perform here, the focus is really on local bands who are trying to extend their reach beyond the immediate area. Despite the small size of the venue, The Saint can be the perfect place to play and break through into the wider music world thanks to the fact that it’s on the radar of Philadelphia and New York clubs.

The New Brunswick Basements

Many of New Brunswick’s clubs have closed down over the past twenty years, but that doesn’t mean that the city’s music scene is dead. In fact, the historic music scene of New Brunswick has now gone underground, with the basement scene thriving to this day. Housed in over a dozen student houses, the New Brunswick Basements feature acoustic and full-band shows and the crowds are known for their engagement, energy and enthusiasm.

The Brighton Bar

This club may be small, but it’s reputation is huge thanks to The Brighton Bar’s ability to attract national acts such as X and The Dictators. With all the feel of a New York dive rock club, this club on the Jersey Shore has great beer, a good vibe and plenty of fantastic punk music.


If you’re into heavy metal, Dingbatz in Clifton should be your first stop. Here, all of the upcoming bands are cutting their teeth, and in this metal-centric venue, you’ll find good shows and supportive audiences.

Mill Hill Saloon

Trenton was once famous for its vibrant music scene, and while it isn’t as impressive as it once was, the Mill Hill Saloon is going nowhere any time soon. Hosting shows across all kinds of musical genre, this venue is best known for its jazz and blues shows, and is becoming better known for its basement where the punk scene is thriving.

Tierney’s Tavern

Based in Montclair, this tavern is a home for jazz, big band, and rock and roll music, and is one of the best places to see live music in all its glory.

Stone Pony

If there is any venue on New Jersey’s music scene that could be viewed as legendary, the Stone Pony is it. Famous for its instrumental role in helping the career of Bruce Springsteen, this is a local venue with a national profile. Although fewer local bands are now taking to the stage here, it’s still vital to the Garden State’s music scene and upcoming indie rockers are still heading here every Sunday.

Northern Soul

Hudson County’s live music scene was in the doldrums when Maxwell’s shut down, but thanks to Northern Soul’s live acts and open mic nights, Hoboken is now getting a new lease of life.

Whether you’re into electronic, rock, jazz, blues or indie music, the alternative scene in New Jersey is alive and kicking. Any of these venues could be the perfect place to visit to listen to big name and up and coming bands and to really get your rock on.

author avatar
Bernard - Side-Line Staff Chief editor
Bernard Van Isacker is the Chief Editor of Side-Line Magazine. With a career spanning more than two decades, Van Isacker has established himself as a respected figure in the darkwave scene.

Since you’re here …

… we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading Side-Line Magazine than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as open as we can - and we refuse to add annoying advertising. So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

Side-Line’s independent journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we want to push the artists we like and who are equally fighting to survive.

If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as 5 US$, you can support Side-Line Magazine – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

The donations are safely powered by Paypal.

Select a Donation Option (USD)

Enter Donation Amount (USD)

Verified by MonsterInsights