Middle East - Acclaimed Rock Venue in a Unique Setting
The Middle East is a one-of-a-kind live music venue in Cambridge, Massachusetts, comprising two restaurants and two concert venues - Upstairs and Downstairs. The latter is the Middle East's flagship club, which regularly hosts well-known rock bands and musicians.
Middle East History
Middle East opened as a Lebanese restaurant in 1970 and started hosting live music acts in the 1980s, initially jazz and blues acts, and by 1987 moving on to host rock bands. In the early 1990s, the Middle East's owners converted the basement of the restaurant into the Downstairs club, which would soon start to attract big-name rock acts. By 2013, the Middle East had established itself as an acclaimed small venue, with Rolling Stone magazine naming it one of the 20 Best Clubs in America.
Middle East Events
Both concert venues at the Middle East host local and touring bands representing a wide range of genres including jazz, funk, blues, reggae and pop, but they are mostly renowned as a showcase for indie bands. The venue is also gaining a reputation for hosting up-and-coming hip-hop performers. Live music performed in the Corner restaurant is generally by Lebanese musicians.
Middle East Seating Layout
The Middle East's Downstairs club, which hosts better-known acts and attracts bigger crowds, has a capacity of 575. The venue is standing room only. Upstairs at the Middle East has a capacity of 194.
The city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, is best known as the home of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Both of the universities' campuses are arts and cultural hubs of the city, hosting the Harvard Art Museum, the Harvard Museum of Natural History, the MIT Museum and the List Visual Arts Center. Live music venues in Cambridge (in addition to the Middle East) include Club Passim, a folk music club that has hosted such singers as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell.
An even greater array of live entertainment and tourist attractions is found in neighboring Boston, Massachusetts, one of the oldest cities in the nation. Some of the most popular sites among visitors include the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile walking tour linking 16 historic sites dating back to the founding of the nation, and Boston Common, a large urban park where British troops were stationed during the Revolutionary War. Other attractions include the New England Aquarium, the historic market buildings of Faneuil Hall and the Museum of Fine Arts. Sports fans visiting Boston won't want to miss a visit to Fenway Park, home of Red Sox baseball and host venue for large-scale concerts.
Several popular bands have recorded live albums at the Middle East Downstairs, including Live from The Middle East by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and the Live at the Middle East DVD by Dinosaur Jr.