The Best Live Music Bars in New Orleans

Music is indisputably the heartbeat of New Orleans, but the best bars for live music go so much deeper than brass bands and jazz. Looking for a place to shoot whiskey while listening to metal and eating borscht? You’re covered. Maybe you’re in search of a dive-y spot featuring a standard rotation of the city’s best blues artists, with beer that’s cold and dirt-cheap? We’re all over it. Bopping around between New Orleans music venues, drink in hand, is the perfect way to explore the city. —Sarah Baird

  • 1

    BJ's Lounge

    A neighborhood joint tucked deep in the Bywater near Poland Avenue, BJ’s offers the makings for a real-deal New Orleans night out. From Monday night red beans blues acts to the dapper, venerable elder statesman of the joint, Little Freddie King, the lineup is always sure to please. On nights when live music isn’t around, BJ’s is also home to one of the city’s funkiest jukeboxes.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • jukebox
    • cheap date
    • live music
    • dancing
  • 2

    Chickie Wah Wah

    A diminutive building just off of Broad Street and surrounded by nothing in particular, this juke joint spotlights some of the most talented local acts seven days a week. They also boast a fairly impressive beer selection, including a good number of local or regional breweries.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • cheap date
    • live music
    • full menu
    • dancing
  • 3

    Circle Bar

    In a most infamous act at Circle Bar, PUNCH writer Sarah Baird once stole a giant rabbit head from a man in a bunny suit and wore it all night. (Circle Bar brings out the best in people.) A tiny space that’s thankfully smoke-free, Circle Bar is often a stop for nationally touring punk and singer/songwriter acts before they hit it big.  

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    KNOWN FOR

    • cheap date
    • live music
    • singles scene
  • 4

    Gasa Gasa

    The neon-colored murals on this Freret St. venue are hard to pass by without ogling. Inside, electronic and new wave bands jam so hard that the small space seems to vibrate. With a half-dozen specialty beers on tap and some fine top shelf brown liquor, Gasa Gasa makes a shot and a beer seem almost hoity-toity.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • live music
    • craft cocktails
    • singles scene
  • 5

    One Eyed Jack's

    The French Quarter’s top venue for touring musical acts, this Twin Peaks-inspired space is consistently aglow in red ambient light. Two bars—one anchoring a front space meant for mixing and mingling and another inside the venue itself—ensure that no one will ever go thirsty.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • live music
    • singles scene
    • dancing
  • 6

    Siberia

    Do you like wearing all black? Do you like death metal? Are you unafraid of burly-looking bartenders? Siberia might be the place for you. The city’s top spot for everything dark and sludgy, this bar is seriously no-frills, with taxidermy that seems less whimsical and more like a warning.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • live music
    • full menu
    • craft beer
    • games
    • singles scene
  • 7

    The Allways Lounge

    This hub for music, comedy, theater and burlesque on St. Claude has quickly become one of the premier venues in the city for the arts. While drink options aren’t mind-blowing, when you’re yukking it up or singing your heart out, a simple boozy beverage from the dark, horseshoe-shaped bar will do.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • live music
    • dancing
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