Lot F Gallery
Boston is a premier epicenter of street art, or whatever the fuck you want to call kaleidoscopic multimedia that makes hipster nipples hard. Having initially backed the now exalted likes of Kenji Nakayama, Lot F is the premier gallery to find work by Boston’s next post-graffiti heroes.
[145 Pearl St., 617.426.102, @LotFgallery, lotfgallery.com]
RUNNER UP: Fourth Wall Project
[132 Brookline Ave., @fourthwallart, fourthwallproject.com]
Photo credit: James Wormser
Much more than just a theater company, A.R.T. is an institute, a destination, and a way of life for those who dig the organic fringes of performance art. From The Donkey Show at OBERON to their training of tomorrow’s talents, New England theater in general owes much of its enduring edge to this inimitable juggernaut.
[64 Brattle St., Cambridge, 617.547.8300, @americanrep, americanrepertorytheater.org]
RUNNER UP: ArtsEmerson
[120 Boylston St., 617.824.8400, @ArtsEmerson, artsemerson.org]
Photo credit: Evgenia Eliseeva
Through the economic downturn, and amidst the crackheads who drink forties on Mass. Ave., Improv Boston has remained a Central Square staple for five nights of hilarity each week. The crew dabbles in stand-up, sketch, and improv–plus hosts the Boston Comedy Arts Festival–and we honor them for all of the above.
[40 Prospect St., Cambridge, @improvboston, improvboston.com]
RUNNER UP: Anderson Comedy
[1222 Comm Ave., Allston, @AndersonComedy, theandersoncomedy.com]
The new kid on the block gets the advantage in Dig This deliberations, and that goes double for phenomenal spots like Laugh Boston. With an entrance far away from the stage (read: you can come late without being harassed), crisp sound, and touring funnymen galore, we’ll be back soon for lots more mirth.
[425 Summer St., 617.725.2844, @LaughBoston, laughboston.com]
RUNNER UP: Wilbur Theatre
[246 Tremont St., 617.248.9700,@The_Wilbur, thewilbur.com]
It’s not often said enough how fortunate we are to have a film fiesta like the IFF here in Greater Boston. Fuck Cannes. For amazing new flicks and debuts in categories ranging from darker-than-midnight noir to political docs, simply head to Davis Square each April.
RUNNER UP: Boston Underground Film Festival
Photo credit: Joseph Marrone
INDIE/ART HOUSE CINEMA
Coolidge Corner Theatre
There are some theaters where you just go to watch a movie. Then there’s the Coolidge, where it’s more likely that you’ll get your smoke on in the alleyway, run into a few film geek friends, see something that’s exclusively screening there, and even engage the popcorn clerk about cinematography.[290 Harvard St., Brookline, 617.734.2501, @thecoolidge, coolidge.org]
RUNNER UP: Brattle Theatre
[40 Brattle St., Cambridge, 617.876.6837, @BrattleTheatre, brattlefilm.org]
LARGE MUSIC VENUE
House of Blues
With new stars hatching and blowing up so fast these days, it’s important to have a stellar state-of-the-art venue for major artists to play before they find arena fame or simply flame out. In Boston, that spot is the House of Blues, our destination for everything from big time EDM to comedic giants.
[15 Lansdowne St., Boston, 888.693.2583, @HOBBoston, houseofblues.com/venues/clubvenues/boston]
RUNNER UP: Citi Performing Arts Center
[270 Tremont St., 617.482.9393, @CitiCenter, citicenter.org]
MEDIUM MUSIC VENUE
The Sinclair is the kind of venue that musicians and their fans alike used to have extremely wet dreams about before it became a reality. Between the prime Harvard Square location, balcony views, clear but monstrous sound, and all-around-sleekness, we come alive every time we walk through the door.
[52 Church St., Cambridge, 617.547.5200, @TheSinclair, sinclaircambridge.com]
RUNNER UP: Brighton Music Hall
[158 Brighton Ave., Allston, 617.779.0140, @Brighton_Music, crossroadspresents.com/brighton-music-hall]
Photo credit: Mona Maruyama
SMALL MUSIC VENUE
As one of the few indie entertainment venues in America–and certainly in the Boston area–where you can reliably find an awesome show on any random night, Great Scott wins on the strength of evolving parties like The Pill and kickass touring wonders. Our affection is beyond words.
[1222 Comm Ave., Allston, 617.566.9014, @greatscottROCK, greatscottboston.com]
RUNNER UP: Johnny D’s
[17 Holland St., Somerville, 617.776.2004, @JohnnyDs, johnnyds.com]
MICRO MUSIC VENUE
Having weathered several recessions, a move, and varying movements of jazz since opening in 1947, Wally’s is a trusty old standby where jam sessions still kick six nights a week. Geekier aficionados come looking for the greats who stop by often; the rest marinate in the moment and exalted history.
[427 Mass Ave., 617.424.1408, wallyscafe.com]
RUNNER UP: Lilypad
[1353 Inman Square, Cambridge St., Cambridge, lilypadinman.com]
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
We have no problem admitting that we especially adore the Gardner for its jaded history. Among the Ancient Roman, Renaissance, and Islamic masterpieces, we’re most fascinated with the Rembrandt and other fine works that went missing back in 1990 during the museum’s infamous heist, all of which still have their empty frames waiting for their uncertain return.
[280 Fenway, Boston, 617.566.1401, @gardnermuseum, gardnermuseum.org]
RUNNER UP: ICA
[100 Northern Ave., 02210, 617.478.3100, @ICAinBOSTON, icaboston.org]
From Makka Mondays, to the throwbacks at the recurring PYT bash, to the long-running drum ‘n bass party Elements, we’ve lost a collective 3,000 pounds shaking our asses at Phoenix Landing. Seven days a week, no holds barred, there’s no other Irish bar on earth with soccer, grub, and this much music to move to.
[512 Mass Ave., Cambridge, 617.576.6260, @PhoenixLanding2, phoenixlandingbar.com]
RUNNER UP: Middlesex Lounge
[315 Mass Ave., Cambridge, 617.868.6739, @middlesexlounge, middlesexlounge.us]
Make it New @ Middlesex Lounge
Being the best dance night at Middlesex is like being the biggest asshole in Congress: there’s a lot of stiff competition. Nine years in the making, though, the electronically inclined Mmmmaven squad behind Make it New has lived up to its name in spades, hence this infinitely earned superlative.
[315 Mass Ave., Cambridge, 617.868.6739, @mmmmaven, middlesexlounge.us]
RUNNER UP: Elements @ Phoenix Landing
[512 Mass Ave., Cambridge, @PhoenixLanding2, phoenixlandingbar.com]
Don’t Ask Don’t Tell @ Great Scott
A monthly Allston retreat for “dance, expression, love and sex,” Don’t Ask Don’t Tell reigns in spite of the welcome demise of the military policy of the same name. From pajama parties to live shows, they fulfill the promise of adding much spice to the LGBT scene, and by bringing more than merely music to the gay masses.
[1222 Comm Ave., Allston, 617.566.9014, @greatscottROCK, facebook.com/DontAskDontTellBoston]
RUNNER UP: Show Tune Tuesday @ dbar
[1236 Dorchester Ave., Dorchester, 617.265.4490, @dbar, dbarboston.com]
Queeraoke @ Midway
Queeraoke is a right of passage for anyone who lives in Jamaica Plain, wants to live there, or hangs with those who inhabit the Forest Hills area–gay, straight, or otherwise. Eons cooler than your typical gay or dance night, we’d put it up against any karaoke experience in America.
[3496 Washington St., Jamaica Plain. 617.524.9038, @Queeraoke, midwaycafe.com/queeraoke]
RUNNER UP: Saturdays at Jeanie Johnston Pub
[144 South St., Jamaica Plain, 617.983.9432, jeaniejohnstonpub.com]