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The Sounds of Raleigh: A Music Guide

People enjoying and evening concert at Walnut Creek Amphitheater

There are many reasons why Oak City is a great place to be a college student. In this post, I’ll talk about its emerging music scene that is every bit as exciting as some of its more famous counterparts.

Live Music, Left and Right

Home of nationally acclaimed acts such as Iron & Wine, Sylvan Esso, or Rhapsody, Raleigh has a lot to offer: indie, rock, folk, jazz, gospel, country, funk, R&B, swing, hip-hop, electro-pop, and many more. Whatever you’re looking for, there is something for everyone, and every ear. Indeed, Raleigh and its neighboring area have hundreds of live music venues, including my personal favorites Local 506 in Chapel Hill, Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, and the Lincoln Theater in downtown Raleigh. And with two record labels in the area, Merge Records in Downtown Raleigh and Yep Roc in Hillsborough, there’s no shortage of talent in sight.

Popular events for everyone

Raleigh and its surroundings play host to many popular festivals all year long. In Downtown Raleigh, SPARKcon and Artsplosure are two big arts festivals that have a lot of live music too. One of my favorites is Hopscotch Music Festival, a three-day music celebration spread across the streets of the city, with more 140 bands playing through one weekend. The annual two-day Wide Open Bluegrass festival draws more than 100 artists and 220,000 visitors to downtown Raleigh. Also worth checking out, Moogfest is a futuristic music festival just next door, in Durham. And this past spring, the festival’s lineup consisted exclusively of performers and presenters that identified as non-binary or female.

Exciting acts, all year long

While you’ll find exciting things to do year-round, summer is, without a doubt, the most exciting time of the year in Raleigh. Over the summer, there are, on average, more than 100 outdoor shows to enjoy on a warm evening! This year, visiting acts included Paramore, Imagine Dragons, Arcade Fire, Zac Brown Band, and many more. The Coastal Credit Union Park at Walnut Creek Amphitheatre and the Red Hat Amphitheater are summer favorites, but let’s not forget the great indoor PNC Arena and the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, hosting a wide array of concerts and broadway events. And yes, before you ask: Hamilton is coming.

Personal Favorites

As a music-lover myself, I’ve greatly enjoyed living in the exciting Oak City. In the summer, be sure to check out the Midtown Beach Music Series on Thursdays at North Hills, and the Wind Down Wednesday Concert Series, for live music, fun times, and good food. If you’re a musician yourself, or want to support up-and-coming artists, there are open mics all over the place. Imurj is the place to be on Wednesdays, and Ruckus Pizza on Tuesdays – be sure to try a slice of pizza, too, you won’t be disappointed!

So, no matter what you’re into, Raleigh has the sound for you. Read our other posts on Raleigh & RTP, or get in touch with current students to hear more about their experience in the area.

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