For music lovers of all stripes, 2020 posed a unique, frustrating challenge. As the pandemic progressed, artists cancelled their shows and venues closed their doors. Nearly a full year later, it seemed like concerts wouldn’t return in 2021—but luckily, that isn’t the case. Live music is back. From local talent to industry legends, musicians are returning to stages all across Greater Cincinnati in the coming months.
Here’s a sampling of what to expect from some of our favorite local venues that are re-opening their doors and welcoming crowds this summer.
In the heart of the arts district of Over-the-Rhine is Memorial Hall, a 556-seat historic theatre that hosts musical artists, Shakespearean actors, and storytellers alike. This summer, the intimate venue is welcoming back artists who reluctantly canceled their 2020 shows, including American singer-songwriter Neko Case (June 29), and the South African male choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo (August 17). Memorial Hall is even booking new events, like the ’70s progressive rock group Ambrosia (August 12). Because of the changes brought on by the pandemic, Memorial Hall is offering full refunds on all ticket purchases and will be following CDC guidelines closely, sanitizing high traffic areas and bathrooms hourly and requiring all patrons to wear masks inside the venue. 1225 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 977-8837
For a premiere outdoor concert experience, check out Riverfront Live in Cincinnati’s East End. The mid-size venue (you might know it as Annie’s or Inner Circle) is ensuring safe social distancing at its shows by requiring patrons to book a box or table in ticket bundles of four, six, eight, or 10, so gather up your pod to go in on tickets to catch some killer live music. Concert-goers are free to remove their masks while at their designated table or box, but must be masked when moving throughout the venue space. This summer, Riverfront Live will host a variety of acts, including jangle pop alternative rock band Sister Hazel (June 27) and multi-platinum indie pop and neo soul band Fitz and The Tantrums (July 13). 4343 Kellogg Ave., East End, (513) 417-4555
Southgate House Revival
Over in Newport, you’ll find an 1800s church that was resurrected into an intimate performance space. Grab tickets quick, because Southgate House Revival is hosting shows at limited capacity to ensure physical distancing. The venue’s staff is also checking temperature at entry and asking that concertgoers wear masks at all times while inside the venue. Hosting genres from punk to country, Southgate House Revival has a show for everyone. Check out John R Miller (July 22) for some foot stompin’ American roots and folk music, or rock out to a mix of genres all in one night from local musicians, cowpunk band Viceroy Kings and country/rockabilly artist Veronica Grim (June 4). 111 E. Sixth St., Newport, (859) 431-2201
Riverbend Music Center and PNC Pavilion
These two outdoor kitty-corner stages, sitting along the river just 20 minutes from downtown Cincinnati, sit along the Ohio River. The larger venues accommodate big-name musicians who will be returning to their stages beginning in July. The Riverbend Music Center will host Jimmy Buffet & The Coral Reefer Band (July 13) and Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Daryl Hall & John Oates (August 23). And look for award-winning violinist Lindsey Stirling (August 6) and indie rock bands Cold War Kids and Kings of Leon (August 31) playing at the PNC Pavilion. Both venues will run at full capacity, full refunds will be offered for canceled and rescheduled events, and mask-wearing will be up to the discretion of patrons and staff alike. 6295 Kellogg Ave., California, (513) 232-5882
This iconic venue is known for hosting music legends (including The Allman Brothers, The Kinks, and B.B. King) and Ludlow Garage continues to welcome big acts into their incredibly intimate space. After their pandemic induced hiatus, the venue will be opening up for their first show featuring legendary pop star Tiffany (July 8). Other concerts to look forward to include southern rock band Atlanta Rhythm Section (July 10) and Grammy winning guitarist Larry Carlton (August 13). While Ludlow Garage will be booking shows at full capacity this summer, they will continually assess CDC guidelines and frequently sanitize high traffic areas. The venue won’t require patrons to wear masks but will be providing masks for those who prefer one. 342 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, (513) 861-7625