By Chris M. Johnson

During the last semester of my senior year of high school, I only applied to one college. I chose the University of Louisville not because of any programs offered here. Rather, I only chose U of L because I loved the city of Louisville and the local music scene. Growing up in a small town an hour away from Louisville, my friends and I used to spend our weekends in this city, seeing local music and the occasional national act. In fact, I had only visited U of L once, in the third grade.

Fortunately for any newcomers to Louisville, there are many venues where you can go to catch a great show and become a new fan of a band you’ve never seen or heard before.

The biggest obstacle for some concert goers is the age restrictions many venues around the city enact. There is nothing more heartbreaking than hearing of a band coming to town that you’ve been dying to see, and then finding out you cannot attend the concert because you are not over the legal drinking age.

However, there are plenty of great places to catch an all-ages or an 18-plus show around Louisville. Headliners Music Hall gets plenty of great acts. The majority of the concerts held at this venue are 18-plus. I spent a lot of time in the space before I turned 21. Acts like Iron and Wine, José González, The National, and TV On The Radio were all fantastic shows that I was able to catch at Headliners. Each of those concerts was all-ages.

In the recent past, the city lost its premiere all-ages venue, Skull Alley. While the venue catered to the thriving hardcore scene in Louisville, and managed to snag many national acts, the space was forced to close due to the high cost of the property. However, local record store ear X-tacy picked up right where Skull Alley left off.

After moving locations in 2010, ear X-tacy made sure that they had enough space to build a stage for in-store performances. In the past, ear X-tacy has had in-store acts like My Morning Jacket, Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, John Mayer, and Talib Kweli. Each and every show at ear X-tacy is free. The store snags both national and local acts. Sometimes it is hard to walk into ear X-tacy without seeing a show.

For the over-21 crowd, there is no better place to catch a show than Zanzabar, which is within walking distance from campus. Even though the venue is just over two years old, the space has thrived with great concerts and even better turnouts. I have seen many fantastic shows at Zanzabar, including every local group or musician I ever loved: Kyp Malone from TV On The Radio, Caribou, The Pass, Mike Doughty, and The Henry Clay People. Shows at Z-bar are usually very cheap. I have never paid more than $12 to see a show at the venue.

No matter your age, there are plenty of opportunities to see great music in Louisville. You can keep track of all the great shows coming to the city by visiting the respective websites of the venues. There is so much great music to see in Louisville. That’s why I moved here. Check out some of these great venues and let music be a part of why you live here as well.