I’ve often heard people characterize Rochester as being a boring city because nothing happens and there is nothing to do. It’s also often been referred to as a city void of a good music scene. As someone who is from the New York City area, and is used to seeing any touring band that I want, I have been guilty of making such generalizations. While Rochester is not New York City or Philadelphia, cities where bands often visit, Rochester has a thriving music scene – you just have to look for it.

In fact, Rochester was included in the recently published “Schools That Rock: The Rolling Stone College Guide,” by Rolling Stone contributing editor Jenny Eliscu, as a city that has a good music scene.

The musicicality of the city can even be seen within our own university. Eastman School of Music, which has the best graduate program for music in the nation, holds weekly concerts in the Eastman Theatre showcasing the talents of students and of visiting musicians.

Rochester also has a well-respected Jazz scene. For the past four years, and continuing this year, Rochester has been home to the Rochester International Jazz Festival, which attracted about 65,000 fans last summer.

Those who like alternative bands, like Saves the Day, John Brown’s Body and Matt Nathanson, should check out the two venues at Water Street Music Hall – The Club and The Hall. The lesser known artists play at The Club – an area composed of a small floor, a bar with a nice lounge area and a balcony that overlooks the stage. The Hall, which hosts more popular bands, boasts a large floor and a bar.

The Bug Jar, Milestones and the Harrow East Ballroom are also great venues to check out local musicians, in addition to nationally touring acts. While these venues are small, they provide an intimate setting for listening to new music and for enjoying your favorite tunes.

Blue Cross Arena is probably the city’s most popular venue, as it hosts the most famous touring acts. It has been home to Green Day, Dave Matthews Band, Destiny’s Child and Incubus. While Blue Cross is the largest music venue in Rochester, it is small enough for even the most distant viewer to enjoy the musicians on stage. For those, like me, who are used to the expansiveness of venues like Madison Square Garden, Blue Cross has no bad seats.

No matter what your musical preference, at some point this year, Rochester will be sure to host an act that will appeal to you. It’s easy to stay on campus and complain that there is nothing to do, but if you check out one of the many concert venues, you will probably find that there is more music in Rochester than you had originally thought.

Katz can be reached at jkatz@campustimes.org.



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