Best music venue: THE MIDDLE EAST

Best music venue: THE MIDDLE EAST

Marked by its low ceilings, diverse bills and several music rooms, Cambridge’s cozy Middle East Restaurant ‘ Nightclub has trumped the previous two year’s winner, the cavernous Avalon, and takes top honors this year as Northeastern students’ favorite venue.

Four venues in one, the complex features the 200-person capacity Upstairs; the 550-person capacity Downstairs; the Corner, which frequently hosts open mic nights and belly dancing; and ZuZu, known for its alternative DJ nights.

Located in Central Square, just a short ride via the MBTA’s red line or Number 1 bus, the Middle East has existed in some capacity since 1970, when the Sater family opened the restaurant and was praised for its authentic Lebanese food. Through the ’70s and ’80s the family converted an old bakery (the now Corner) and an old bowling alley (the now Downstairs) to better accommodate the thriving Boston music scene.

The Middle East has always been a premier venue to see rising indie rock bands and diverse lineups. When they were still doing the east coast concert circuit, artists like Nirvana, the Misfits and Elliott Smith all made the Middle East part of their itinerary.

Recently, the venue hosted two consecutive sellout nights when Virginia-based hip-hop ensemble Clipse, post rockers Explosions in the Sky and laptop mash-up artist Girl Talk performed.

The Middle East will host concerts in the upcoming weeks from Massachusetts emo-core kings Piebald, rapper El-P, Australian indie pop collective Architecture in Helsinki and, as always, a bevy of quality local bands.

– Chris Brook, News Staff

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