Boise Venue Rankings! ⋆⭒˚.⋆

By Elle Stephenson

Hi University Pulse readers! It’s Elle again, and today I’m bringing something a little different to our blog. I thought it would be fun to rank some of the venues that I’ve personally seen shows at in Boise. I will be excluding the venues I haven’t been to, obviously. I’ll also be rating each venue on a scale out of ten, ten being the best, one being the worst (of course), although it would be really hard for me to give any venue in Boise a legitimately bad rating because we didn’t always have all of these options and I’m honestly just grateful to have as many choices as we do. My remarks are entirely my own and do not necessarily reflect University Pulse as a whole but I thought it could be silly and cute to do some reviews. ;p

Treefort Music Hall: 

Treefort Music Hall is a relatively new venue in Boise, opening only last March. I’ve seen about 4 shows there so I feel qualified to give a ranking. As far as ambience goes Treefort music hall is pretty cute. It’s large and minimalistic in design. They have a nice bar with a lot of different options and the ticket prices are anywhere from $15-$80 depending on the show and what kind of ticket you buy. The lights here are incredible, definitely one of the better venues in Boise if you’re looking for an all ages space, so A+ for age accessibility. It’s a little bit bigger than I’m used to personally, but the sound system is great and they allow reentry too. They also have a cute little patio right on Capitol. They get a 9/10 in my book.

Neurolux:

Okay, if you know me, this ranking is about to get BIASED. Neurolux is not only my favorite venue in Boise for a show, but it’s also my favorite spot every time I’m downtown. Neurolux is a classic little bar on 11th and Idaho. They have generally dim lighting with a few neon signs to light up the area. They also have a fantastic patio. I always feel welcome there, and it’s as close to home for me as a venue/bar can be. As far as ambience goes it’s a little bit of a dive, it’s really cool but it isn’t trying too hard either. The dark walls and neon lights create a comfortable atmosphere that I really enjoy. Some venues are way too bright, and I don’t really need to see every pore on someone’s face when I go to a show. The crowd attitude at Neurolux is always very chill, everybody is excited to be there and I’ve never had any problems at the shows I’ve seen there. People will actually try to get to know you there and it’s easy to make fast friends in the crowd. The amenities at Neurolux include a classic jukebox, the aforementioned patio, a singular pool table, a couple of pinball machines, an odd little computer game (?) in the corner and tons of seating. I feel like they set up the space that they have very well, and it all comes together really nicely. They are also right next door to the Record Exchange, which makes it easy to go and use the analog photo booth. Unfortunately though, Neurolux is not an all ages venue so if you’re under 21 you’ll have to wait. I give them a 9.5/10. (It would have been a 10/10 but I’m trying to look at this from a point of view that would be accessible to anybody, not just those of us over the age of 21)

El Korah Shrine

Ballroom:

The Shrine’s ballroom is kind of a quirky venue. I have a lot more experience with the Shrine’s basement because it just so happens that’s where about half of the shows I go to are at. I’ve been in the ballroom just once, when I saw NNAMDÏ at treefort last year. I almost got lost because it’s a pretty large space, and I’m also directionally challenged and have a hard time finding where I’m supposed to go. As for ambiance, the shrine almost feels like an old school to me, everything is made of wood and there is a lot to look at between the pictures on the walls, the multiple entryways into the main stage area, the hallways, and apparently the women’s bathroom. This all just adds to the charm of The Shrine. The crowds in the Shrine ballroom are usually made up of all kinds of people, during Treefort you never know who’ll you see. It’s a pretty good vibe from the crowd but when I went alone I didn’t end up talking to anybody, the ballroom is the kind of venue you generally want to go to with a friend. Amenities are pretty limited on the main floor, mostly you just go to see the shows you’re attending. The use of space though is perfect for the venue that they are. When it’s empty there’s hardly anything there, but when a show is happening the place can get packed so I think they account for that really well. The venue is all ages too so it can fill up fast if you don’t get there close to the start of the set you want to see. 8/10

Now to what I really know about, The Shrine Basement:

The basement is a really interesting space to see a show. You walk down the stairs and into the basement and you’re immediately confronted with the bar. I personally don’t really utilize their bar that often because their drinks are more expensive than I would generally expect. Across from the bar is an area for seating, complete with several booths you can hang out in, they also usually set up the merchandise tables in that section of the space. Then, in the back is the stage, and the area you want to be in if you’re trying to really see the show. The vibe is a little strange, but not in a bad way. It’s dark, and smaller than you would think considering how large the ballroom is, there’s also no particular feeling that I get when I go to shows there because every show feels slightly different (despite there being a lot of the same people in the crowds of these shows). There are a lot of people who just want to go hard there, which is totally fair, but when you’re in a space that small it can be hard to not get hit or pushed in some way even at a pretty chill show. The utilization of the space isn’t my favorite personally because the bar and seating area take up so much space, while the area for the crowd is only about a third of the actual size of the venue. It figures though, the space wasn’t originally meant to be a concert venue and honestly that’s part of what makes going to shows there so fun, it’s just a unique space. It’s also all ages. 9/10!

Our Promotions Director (and my friend), Abbie, also let me know that the Shrine has an accessible elevator for anybody who needs another way to get into the venue, so I gave the ballroom and the basement each an extra half point on their ratings for accessibility!

Hap Hap Lounge:

Hap Hap Lounge is an absolutely gorgeous venue. It kind of feels like you walked into a wealthy mid century modern obsessed, 60 year old’s house and they just let you stay. They have a rooftop bar area too, so maybe a REALLY wealthy 60 year old. It’s really chill. This is a venue you could take your parents and they would have a ball. Hap hap is unfortunately not all-ages, it is 21 and up so it isn’t the most age accessible venue in Boise, but they do plan a lot of cool events here. The crowd attitude is more individualistic, you kind of come with the people that you came with and you all stick together. They also tend to attract an older crowd, definitely more Gen-X composed audiences. They have a bar, plenty of seating, and obviously the rooftop patio. They make use of their space really well and it’s really fun to go and check it out. I don’t tend to see a ton of shows here because they generally don’t have the specific artists that I personally want to see but that doesn’t mean they don’t have some great shows. 8/10!

The Knitting Factory:

The Knit is such a staple to the Boise music scene. They have a really great space there. When you walk in you enter onto a staircase where you can either go up or down. Upstairs they have seating behind the rails. Downstairs there’s a selection of tables as well as a large general admission area. I actually went to my junior prom at The Knit, wearing the ugliest dress in the entire world. The ambiance is similar to Treefort Music Hall, but it’s darker and more easy to get around in. The crowds there change a lot depending on who you see there but I’m always able to find a good spot to see the show. I’ve seen shows where people have come up and started a conversation, and I’ve had shows where I’m completely left to my own devices. The amenities include a bar in the middle of the venue where they sell drinks and also water! They often have a merchandise table set up pretty close to the bottom of the stairs too. They are an all ages venue and a great choice for those under 21 looking to see a show. They make really good use of their space too, the bathrooms are off to the side, the bar is in the middle and then we have our table seating and general admission behind the stage. They have everything you could need and they leave a lot of space for moving around which is something I really love about The Knit. It can be full but I never feel very crowded. 9/10!

The Shredder:

The Shredder is another total staple of the scene in Boise, if you’re into hardcore, you have definitely been to The Shredder. It’s all ages and accommodates all kinds of people. It’s just super cool. When you walk in there’s a bar (it’s a theme), seating, a photo booth and all kinds of things hanging from the walls, it’s grungy and it’s beautiful. Then you go upstairs and there’s more seating, more to look at on the walls, and the bathrooms. They also have a half-pipe at the shredder if you feel like skating. I’ve never had any issues with the crowds at The Shredder. They make really good use of their space because they’re able to kind of just cram everything you could want in there and still make space for the people there. It’s also just a super fun and interesting venue to find yourself in. I can honestly give The Shredder a 10/10, they have everything my little heart could desire.

District Coffee House:

I actually used to go to District a lot when I was 14/15 because I thought it would make the popular (and also VERY christian) kids at my high school like me more. They have a pretty nice space there with a lot to offer. it didn’t really help me at all in facing the societal pressures of trying to fit in as a teenager, but that will not be affecting my review. District is a coffee shop that in the daytime fills up with natural light. They have a minimalistic vibe and their choices of furniture reflect that, as well as the majority of the space being white or at least light in color. They have a cute little patio where you can usually see people hanging out with their dogs. They also serve coffee, (duh!) I’ve seen a couple of shows there and to be honest it isn’t really my cup of tea. As you guys can probably tell, I like the dark venues best. The audience there is usually extremely chill, you don’t have to worry about fighting to get up front or about any real drama happening in the crowd, most people at District just want to chill and have a good time. They utilize their space pretty well, everything is easily movable and can be adjusted for sets. They really do have a lot to offer if you’re into softer music, again, that’s not really my thing so I’ll be giving them a 5/10, I am so sorry if anybody from District is reading this, you didn’t do anything wrong we just exist in two different worlds. 

Visual Arts Collective:

The Visual Arts Collective is a really interesting venue. It’s out in Garden City and is put to use pretty consistently throughout Flipside Fest in the fall. It’s part gallery, part show venue. It’s also pretty big! I went there with Abbie to see a DJ set by DeLux (who we were lucky to get to interview during Flipside) and even though it was full of people, we had no problems getting around. there was always at least two feet of space around us wherever we went. When we went it was pretty dark and there were soft lights shining around the venue. It’s 21+ so I’m sorry but not everybody will get in. It’s a pretty chill spot and I can really appreciate what they’re doing with their intersection of art and music because they really are so interconnected. It is kind of far from downtown though and we weren’t really in our age range there so I’ll have to give them a 6.5/10. 

Botanical Garden:

The Botanical Garden is a seasonal venue that always gets a big crowd in the summer. I’ve seen several shows there and it always feels a little bit like going to the fair for me for some reason. Not sure why. (Also I love the fair.) When you go to a show at The Botanical Garden first you go through security, and then you’re unleashed into the general area. In the back there’s generally merch (which always has a CRAZY line because it’s a super popular venue), and they also usually have food trucks and a beer/cocktail tent. The crowds are really chill no matter what, it’s usually a lot of people of all ages who just want to hang out in the gardens, have a good time, and listen to some music. Most of the time the area closest to the stage ends up being the general admission area. That’s where everybody standing up and trying to get close is, in the back sections most people bring chairs, or a blanket and hang out on the ground. There are screens that show you what’s happening on stage so you don’t have to worry if you don’t have the heart to push your way to the barricade, you can still see everything you need to. I really enjoy the amount of open space and fresh air at the botanical gardens, and even at a sold out show you aren’t packed in like a sardine. Just super nice and welcoming, especially when it’s finally warm outside. 8/10!

Pengilly’s:

Pengilly’s is another unique venue, (do we have anything else? It’s called personality) It’s perfect for what it is though. A saloon. If you’re a country or folk fan (or just someone looking for a place with fun decor and a killer patio) you have found your Boise venue haven. Pengilly’s has never been that busy when I’ve seen shows there. Which is honestly pretty surprising because I feel like Boise is just full of country/folk music lovers. Maybe it was just the sets I saw? Anyways, when you walk in you’re greeted by the bar, stage, and booth seating on your left, as well as a door in the back leading to the (beautiful, amazing, gorgeous) patio. On the right there’s several tables, a pool table, and the bathrooms. The walls are either brick or covered in wallpaper and they straight up have a couple of barrels that are used as tables. It’s a super fun place to dance with your friends and the crowds aren’t really CROWDS as much as they are spectators. I think they make great use of the space they have, and Pengilly’s really brings something to downtown Boise that I feel we were missing. There’s also a great street food guy that usually props up in front on the weekend and makes incredible Mac and cheese for the right price ($12). Overall Penguilly’s is a really welcoming and chill environment. As a hangout spot I really enjoy it. I don’t usually feel very inclined to attend shows there though because they generally don’t host the kind of shows that I’m looking for. It’s also a 21+ venue so I’ll be giving them a 7/10.

Those are my Boise venue rankings! Let me know what your thoughts are. AGAIN, these are my personal opinions and I seriously don’t mean any harm by my reviews. I recommend checking all of Boise’s venues out yourself and coming to your own opinions. I do hope that you enjoyed what I had to say about the topic though. Okay! Well, love ya, bye!

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