Music might not be the first thing you think of when someone mentions Alaska— perhaps the moose, the mountains and the midnight sun—but Alaska is filled with skilled and passionate people rearing to bring the best to the last frontier. You can find Latin jazz and country music on the same stages, and Anchorage is the best place to find any style of music whether you like to head bang or square dance. So, while you’re in the state, make sure to give these incredible venues a chance when you’re looking for a way to wind down a night, or catch a national act while you’re in town.
The training grounds. All the best acts in Anchorage, from the recently disbanded Pretty Birds That Kill to the Whipsaws play nightly, and national acts come through regularly, including Angel Olsen and Ray LaMontagne. Post up on Monday nights for some Open Mic night weirdness, and other weekly events including Trivia Nights with Geeks Who Drink.
Never thought you’d find Afro-Cubano band or a Latin dance night in the Alaskan Interior? Well, I’m here to show you better: The Jazz Bistro on 4th serves some delicious comfort food and brings the most culturally diverse musicians from around the state to share the stage.
From orchestras to Jack White, the Wendy Williamson Auditorium brings the national spotlight to the arts in Alaska. Located on the UAA campus, this venue is open to the public and hosts movie festivals, classical concerts, lectures and popular music to create a space as much for thinking as head banging.
Want to visit a DJ hot spot where artists as famous as Diplo perform? And a hidden speakeasy with the best cocktails in town? What’s not to love? See some of the best national acts to come through Anchorage, and, if you’re lucky, catch one of their 80s or 90s Pop-Up Dance Parties hosted by local DJ Spencer Lee.
Get your old-fashioned Alaska dive on while enjoying some of the most diverse performances in the state. Make your first stop the Ice Bar where you might catch anything from northwest EDM DJs to stand-up comics, then make your way through the maze of different bars, where you’ll hear everything from acoustic singer-songwriters to punk and heavy metal.
At the old-timer, last frontier Yukon Bar, you can settle in for a night of blues and brews, with a different artist playing nearly every night, with the widest variety of local acts available in town. The mood is low-key—at least until they bust out the karaoke book!
Dive is the name of the game, and locals are the claim. This local’s bar is the best place to go for great conversation and nightly music, giving the best experience for the traveler looking for that real, authentic place. The bass is low and the treble’s clear, and the beer runs freely at this historic saloon, which is the oldest manmade building still standing in the state’s capitol.
This is the cultural center of the most musical town in the state. It seems like everything revolves around this building, from critical panels to musical theatre, and a show here is a must for anyone who finds themselves wintering over in the state’s culture capitol of Anchorage.
This annual fair, the biggest event of its kind in Alaska, brings an incredible diversity of headlining musicians to its grounds. Imagine the fair that can bring the likes of Creed to play on the same stage once inhabited by Kendrick Lamar. Now that’s a special place.
First tap events happen every month at this Alaska staple venue. all the seating is removed, the speakers bump, and they host some of the most famous acts that have ever come through Alaska, including Michael Franti and GZA & RZA of Wu Tang Clan.