By Lindy Vision
It wasn’t until Breaking Bad that people finally realized New Mexico is a state in America and that Albuquerque is a small town located therein. But Albuquerque is not only the setting for award-winning television shows, it is also a hip musical haven, with microbreweries popping up like daisies every month. While Albuquerque may not exactly tick like Portland or Los Angeles, it is as rich and diverse in musical genres as it is in people and culture. In fact, ours is home to acts including pop star Demi Lovato, indie rock band The Shins, comedian Marc Maron, as well as a significant population of heavy metal lovers!
Our beloved Q-Town is becoming an in-demand stop for worldwide touring acts, performing at the city’s most iconic venues, such as Burt’s Tiki Lounge and the Sunshine Theatre. But those are just a few of the many wonderful venues here. In order to fully appreciate Albuquerque sonically, you have to be creative in your efforts. Here are some of our favorite spots!
To some local folks, Low Spirits is too “out-of-the-way,” which means it’s not really located near other bars. So once you’re there, you are probably there for the rest of the night — which, really, is a pretty damn good decision. This is the place to get stranded. It’s one of our favorite places to hear live music and grab a cocktail. You’ll be in great company with the bands that have jammed on the intimate stage at this venue. And when I say intimate, I mean being in the audience literally feels like being on the stage. The margaritas deserve an honorable mention, too.
Had a hard week at work? The Anodyne is the place to grab a beer with friends on a Friday or Saturday night. Just be careful you don’t have too many drinks, because you have to climb a flight of stairs to get in and out of this place. But the climb is totally worth it because Anodyne sits at the top of a historic downtown building that overlooks Central Avenue, the main street running through downtown. You can people-watch and take in some of the best views of the city from this spot. But what we really love, is that they have an iPod console that allows patrons to choose the music — think jukebox for the younger generation. I believe this may the only bar where Joy Division and Garth Brooks might be played in the playlist shuffle.
The Guild Cinema has a variety of movies to choose from, especially cool musical documentaries like A Band Called Death and Heart of a Dog. If you are a movie aficionado, try this place first before you try the bigger chains. You’ll be surprised at how low key and enjoyable this locally owned theater is! And don’t forget the popcorn seasoning.
Farina and Farina Alto serve food you can eat and music you can bob your head to. Though gourmet brick oven pizza may not be a novel concept, Farina executes it flawlessly. Enjoy a bianca pizza and homemade piñon-laced meatballs any night of the week here, while listening to your favorite Radiohead song or classical concerto from Chopin. This place is open until 10pm most nights (which is “late” in NM), so when you’re looking for tunes and a great late night snack, Farina’s is a godsend.
And while I’m on a food/beverage aside, La Cumbre Brewing Co. is a great local brewery that serves my favorite beer (Slice of Hefen; which actually is a slice of heaven) and just has a nice vibe about it. You’re guaranteed to make a friend here. It’s not too loud or stand-offish and they play excellent music.
I can spend an ungodly amount of time shopping, especially at Buffalo Exchange, simply because the music is good. Here, you’ll find vintage, funky threads, hats, jewelry, costumes, coats, etc. If you have some time and need a cute outfit for a night on the town, then definitely make a pit stop here (but be prepared to stay longer than you initially planned). You’ll find a cool outfit while listening to the soundtrack of your life.
At the heart of the University of New Mexico is a small place affectionately named the Duck Pond (named, cleverly, for the abundance of ducks who frequent it). Here you can collect your thoughts and mediate to the sound of water and ducks quacking. It’s a great place to sneak away from the hustle and bustle of the city’s sounds and hear nature’s music.
Pope Joy Hall houses many international acts. It’s the one place where you can see Irish dance, A Tribute to the Beatles, The Book of Mormon, or solo Jack White all under the same roof. Put it simply: The acts that perform here are usually world renowned and worth the ticket price.
Albuquerque’s open air flea market is the best place to find vintage records in town, and ones that are in surprisingly good condition. It’s a big flea market so you’ll need to get there early in order to cover serious ground. Not to mention they always have roasted green chile and sweet lollipops coated in red-chili powder (don’t knock it, till you try it)!
Interested in hearing more about the sounds of cities from the artists who love them? Catch up on the full COMPASS series here.
And if you’re interested in booking your first tour, check out our free course, Touring on a Shoestring, and learn everything you need to know to get booking!
Lindy Vision is an all-girl electro punk rock band composed of three sisters Dorothy, Carla, and Natasha Cuylear. All three sisters currently reside in Albuquerque, NM. They are devoted to making music that makes you feel something.