Billings is gaining recognition for being Montana’s live music mecca. Spend some time in Billings during the summer and you will understand why. On any given night between June 1st and August 31st someone would struggle to find one night were there wasn’t at least one live music act happening somewhere in town. Narrow it to downtown only and you would still struggle. As a downtown dweller and music lover, no complaints here. You will find everything from country to classic rock, reggae, hip hop and more. In fact, I think you would be hard pressed to find a genre that isn’t covered at least once a summer in Billings. The other great thing is the variety of locations you can choose from. You want a 10,000 person concert, Metra has it, if you want a 10 person concert, a variety of coffee shops and other venues in town offer that. Everything in between is covered too. With that, here are a few of my must see concert venues or events.
A Pub Station concert, or two. Locals and visitors alike should take the time to experience the Pub Station at least once. A former bus station turned concert venue/amazing pub is definitely a unique place. We are talking old pin ball machines, reclaimed Montana lumber and an atmosphere that embodies each band or act they bring in. See a sellout crowd like Turnpike Troubadors or check out that emerging artist that draws a smaller crowd, for now. In the middle of a sellout crowd of several hundred people, there has never been a spot where you have to squint to see the talent. While some of the smaller acts feel as intimate as an MTV Unplugged concert. The staff there is phenomenal and best of all, they have a variety of local beers on tap.
The Pub Station
Magic City Blues. Historic Montana Avenue shuts down for two nights of concerts, food trucks, and great drinks. Over the past few years it has attracted artists like Elle King, Ziggy Marley, and Blackberry Smoke. You can grab a VIP table or general admission will get you standing or sitting room in front of the stage. Throw in some amazing food trucks where you can get a specialty grilled cheese sandwich and egg rolls for dinner and you have a night that’s hard to beat.
Magic City Blues
MontanaFair. The MontanaFair has three concerts each year on the first weekend of the fair which falls on the second weekend in August. The last few years the fair has had Jason Derulo, Hunter Hayes, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Train, Chris Young, Offspring, and more! What’s great about the MontanaFair concerts is that you can buy a ValuPass and attend all 3 plus all the other great events happening during the 9 days of the fair for $65 dollars. Insider tip: if you only want to attend one or two of the concerts, find some friends who would like to attend the others and split the cost! If you aren’t into the big concerts at the fair there are multiple opportunities to see different acts on the fairgrounds.
Jason Derulo at MontanaFair
A local restaurant or coffee shop. Some of my favorite live music experiences in Billings have been when I have stumbled upon a band at a restaurant, coffee shop, or brewery. There is something about having drinks with friends with great live music playing in the background that makes the heart happy. TEN at the Northern has live music every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night and they bring in a variety of local and visiting artists. I came across a great keyboardist one night from Chicago who was phenomenal. Thirsty Street, Yellowstone Valley Brewing Company, and Trailhead Spirits frequently have live music as well. Check out the calendar here to see when you can “stumble” on to a great live band.
Live Music at TEN
Whether you are visiting to see a show or are in town and looking for something to fill your evening, we hope you find our music scene as exciting as we do! If you have a music must see in Billings, be sure to send a message and I can check it out!
Garth Brooks performing at Rimrock Auto Arena