Live Music Venues in Broward County
By Jon O'Neill
The Dive Bar, located near Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, is a place known among locals and visitors alike. Here, patrons can find live rock-and-roll bands, great burgers and an interesting range of dive-related decor: including a full-fledged diving suit complete with a throwback metal helmet.
In the back of the bar is a full stage, set up with lights, speakers and rock-and-roll memorabilia. When the bands aren’t performing, patrons can grab a drink and something to eat or take in a game of pool.
For any classical rocker, bartender Betty Jo Vitrano said, “The Dive Bar can’t be beat.” The bar is filled with regulars who keep coming back and newcomers who she knows she’ll see again.
“I love turning tourists into regulars,” she said.
Live bands play at the venue Wednesday through Saturday night, featuring local and out-of-town acts. On Sunday and Monday night, they open up the stage for karaoke. No matter what night of the week it is, Vitrano said, you can always count on happy hour from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Located just steps from the beach, patrons said The Dive Bar is a friendly and relaxed place to grab a drink and visit with friends. Mike and Renee Mangold said they’ve been coming to the bar for years.
“It’s so relaxed,” Renee Mangold said. “You can wear flip flops and a bathing suit if you want.”
The Dive Bar
3233 N. Ocean Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
One of the most iconic Fort Lauderdale bars, the Elbo Room has been serving customers for more than 70 years.
Established in 1938, the Elbo Room has become a fixture on Fort Lauderdale beach, and became a must-see destination after it was featured in the 1960 film “Where The Boys Are.” With the ocean breeze, live local music and patrons who have been coming to the bar for years, an afternoon spent drinking cocktails on the patio at the Elbo Room is an afternoon well spent.
The Elbo Room is an eclectic mix of old and young, classy and casual. The venue has a small stage that features local live acts playing everything from reggae to rock and roll.
Don’t be surprised to see patrons wearing nothing but a bathing suit, grabbing a cocktail and listening to some tunes before heading back to the beach.
Dan Waters, of Chicago, said whenever he’s in Fort Lauderdale, he makes sure to stop off at the Elbo Room for a beer or two.
“If you’re looking to get the full Florida experience, this is a true place to go,” he said. “A dive bar right on the beach, palm trees swaying to the sound of acoustic Sublime covers, Kona Big Wave on tap and A-plus people watching. Can’t beat the location and the vibe is as Florida as it gets.”
241 S. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
For the past decade, the crew at Original Fat Cats has made it a priority to feature live music every night.
Located on Himmarshee Street in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale, the Original Fat Cats serves cold beer and hot tunes. The idea is to make sure that anytime anyone walks into the bar, they’re hearing live music.
“People know when they come into Fat Cats, there’s going to be music,” said Owner Dylan Asher.
Theme nights draw the local crowd, like Reggae Wednesdays. On weekends, Asher said, passersby are drawn in with popular tunes from local bands that offer their own unique twist. Bands play everything from Top 40 hits to throwback classics and indie jams.
Aside from all live music all the time, the bar also offers a huge list of craft and domestic beers, a full liquor bar and if you’re game, pool in the back.
The bar is popular among locals, Asher said, but it’s laidback vibe and friendly staff make it a great place for tourists, too.
“We make sure everybody that comes in feels welcome,” he said. “It’s a safe place with friendly bartenders and the most interesting music in town.”
Original Fat Cats
320 Himmarshee St., Fort Lauderdale
If concerts are your jam, Revolution Live is the place to be. Since the 1970s, acts big and small have been featured on Revolution Live’s stage.
Big names like Pitbull and Neon Trees have played here, as well as up-and-coming artists of all genres. You can be sure to find everything from hip-hop, electronic dance music, rock and pop at the venue.
Tickets for shows sell in advance through their box office, and with new shows being announced every week, there’s something for everyone. VIP packages are also available, which give fans great access to their favorite performers.
The venue also collaborates with local radio stations to serve up “hit sessions,” intimate concerts where artists are interviewed about their songs and their craft.
The venue isn’t huge like some concert halls, but that’s what makes patrons keep coming back. Many compliment Revolution Live on the stage set up that allows a great view of the bands from any spot in the house.
Ellie Taylor, a Fort Lauderdale resident, said she’s seen a variety of bands at Revolution Live. For anyone looking to take in their favorite artist – or perhaps discover a new one – the intimate feel and prime location of Revolution Live make it a must-see on any music lover’s list “It’s the place to go,” she said.
100 SW Third St., Fort Lauderdale
Looking for a late night place with live, local music? Cheers, located in Sunrise with a second location in Fort Lauderdale, has that pretty much covered.
Every Friday and Saturday night, bands take the stage from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. On Thursdays, local duo Grindstone plays an acoustic set at the Sunrise spot. The elevated stage allows for patrons to feel like they’re getting a true rock-and-roll concert experience.
For those checking out the late night local bands, don’t worry: the kitchen is also open late. Grab some of the wings – which are delicious – if you need munchies to go along with your music. If you’re not totally into the tunes, the bar offers more.
For the sports lover, TVs pack every wall. For those interested in participant sports, try your hand at a game of pool or darts. Or, if you want to feel like a kid again, partake in some Twister or life-size Jenga.
The bar also offers nightly specials and karaoke on Tuesday and Wednesday for amateur singers looking for their five minutes of fame.
Loyal patrons admit this place is a dive, for all the right reasons. Friendly bar staff, regulars who seem to know everyone’s name and an upbeat atmosphere make Cheers a spot to check out while in South Florida.
8931 W. Oakland Park Blvd., Sunrise
Need more venues to check out? If you’ve got the time, here are a few other suggestions:
Cagney’s House Of Rock
4983 S. University Drive, Davie
Those in south Broward County looking for a live music spot, Cagney’s House of Rock is a definite must-see. With everything from country to metal, there’s a little something for everyone.
Mango’s Restaurant And Lounge
904 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
Right in downtown Fort Lauderdale is Mango’s Restaurant and Lounge, a casual lunch spot that transforms into an upbeat party scene at night with live music, refreshing cocktails and dancing.
Aruba Beach Café
1 E. Commercial Blvd., Lauderdale-by-the-Sea
A Caribbean getaway located right on the beach, Aruba Beach Cafe is a perfect place to grab lunch, listen to some live island music and forget your troubles for a while.
Briny Riverfront Irish Bar and Restaurant
305 S. Andrews Avenue
Located on Fort Lauderdale’s iconic Riverwalk, Briny’s offers an outdoor stage surrounded by funky nautical decor that will keep any patron’s eyes busy for hours.
Cafe 27 Truck Stop
4690 U.S. Highway 27, Weston
A liitle off the beaten path, Cafe 27 offers patrons good food and live music near the Florida Everglades. If you’re a biker, stop by on Wednesday’s for Bike Night.