Concerts & Live Music
Finding live music in Madison is never difficult. From classical music to karaoke, jazz clubs to fresh-air venues, festivals to symphonies. You won’t want to miss the music scene in Madison. See a calendar of this week's shows ›
MADISON'S MUSIC TIES
Madison’s music scene has made its mark on the world. Drummer Butch Vig of Garbage got his start in Madison — as did the careers of bands that recorded albums at Vig’s Smart Studios: Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Everclear and Fall Out Boy, to name a few.
Unfortunately, one musician’s end was made famous in Madison: Soul legend Otis Redding died when his plane crashed into Lake Monona in 1967, just three days after recording his best-known hit “(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay.”
To this day, many notable musicians have made their homes in Madison, including James Brown’s former drummer Clyde Stubblefield. Acclaimed jazz bassist Richard Davis has been a professor at UW-Madison since 1977, though he’s drawn audiences worldwide and has a long list of performance and recording credits with stellar artists including Sarah Vaughan, Eric Dolphy, Frank Sinatra, Barbara Streisand, John Lennon and Miles Davis.
If your formula for finding great music is finding the spots where locals go to listen to a live show, you won’t want to miss classic venues that make up Madison’s mix. You’ll find music events happening every week.
Venues include The Orpheum Theater, a live performance and music theater centrally located on State Street; Cafe Coda, beloved jazz club owned by jazz legend Hanah Jon Taylor in the heart of iconic Willy Street; and The Sylvee where up-and comers and beloved favorites put on shows you won't forget.
The Memorial Union Terrace is considered to have one of the best views in Madison — and it’s made even better with music! Pull up a sunburst chair, grab a bite to eat and listen to live music while seated on the popular stone patio located alongside Lake Mendota.
The Monona Terrace features two summer music series events on its rooftop: Concerts on the Rooftop and Dane Dances, Enjoy free live music while watching the sun set over sparkling Lake Monona.
Bringing your own blanket is the best way to reserve your seat for Concerts on the Square, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra’s six-week, Wednesday night concert series.
Live on King Street has quickly become part of the urban fabric that makes Downtown Madison so special. This FREE concert series features national touring acts that perform on an outdoor stage with a stunning view of the Capitol.
FAIRS & FESTIVALS
When it’s warm outside, we love to celebrate with food and music festivals. From Memorial Day to Labor Day and every week in between, it’s easy to fill your calendar with multi-day music events.
Brat Fest – A Madison tradition that kicks off summer, including local and regional acts along with one of the Midwest’s best menu items: grilled brats!
Sugar Maple Music Festival – This family-friendly, two-day outdoor festival celebrates traditional music and dance through performances, educational workshops and interactive jam sessions. Grab your dancin’ shoes and experience this summertime event held at Lake Farm County Park.
Taste of Madison – As summer winds down, four live stages spaced all around the Capitol Square heat up with local and regional acts that perform throughout Labor Day weekend. A perfect mix of eating and live entertainment!