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New Jersey is a small state, but its musical presence is larger than life and filled with personality. In the northeastern region along the Atlantic coast, this state provides plenty of opportunities for entertainment, including ferries to Ellis Island, the historic Immigration Museum, and the coastal towns of Jersey Shore. Live music in the state has an equally large presence in entertainment. Keep reading to find out how this presence impacts the concert experience.

Numerous incredible and influential American artists came from New Jersey.

Few songs strike the idea of Americana more than “Born in the U.S.A.” and “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen, born and raised in South Jersey to a working-class family. His background shaped a distinct and iconic rock and roll sound, creating anthems that would permeate throughout times of intense national and international turmoil. Bon Jovi is another classic rock and roll artist from New Jersey whose single s captured working class America with heart and soul, such as “Livin’ on a Prayer” and “Blaze of Glory.” Adopting a pop and jazz sound, Frank Sinatra, from Hoboken, New Jersey, is another artist whose sounds and charisma captivated crowds, a quintessentially American performer. Like her father, Nancy Sinatra is a New Jersey native whose music touched on national and cultural aspects of America; her performances of songs like “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” to soldiers defined the Vietnam War efforts.

Other unforgettable artists who came from New Jersey and contributed to national conceptions about America and what it represents include Whitney Houston, Paul Simon, The Four Seasons, My Chemical Romance, Misfits, Gloria Gaynor, Kool & the Gang, The Shirelles, and Dionne Warwick. This history of artists who are unbelievable talented and central to American music culture show the relevance of the sounds coming out of New Jersey. Contemporary concert-goers can expect some of these icons to be honored guests at local venues. Plus, concert-goers can expect a uniquely national sound that has been honed and polished by performers of New Jersey’s past.

New Jersey offers awesome indie music.

Indie music is difficult to define, though it often refers to something unique, alternative, or obscure in music. Indie music often involves independent production, composition, or performance, a surefire way to carve out an original sound. Often paired with genres like rock and pop, the “indie” qualifier is one of ambiguity. However, New Jersey has embraced its indie music scene with gusto. Entire websites—including blogs, zines, and organizations—promote New Jersey’s independent businesses, artists, and creatives, such as Jersey Indie and New Jersey Spotlight, and Jersey Beat.

Today, a variety of local venues share the praise of New Jersey’s indie scene, eager to get artists in their lineups. Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park is known for its local punk bands. National acts like the Reverend Horton Heat accommodate large crowds on the spacious dance floor of bowling lanes. However, local indie artists provide the comfort and familiarity such venues need. Stone Pony in Asbury Park is another indie hotspot, having furthered the careers of artists like Springsteen. Still opening its doors—and its stage—to up and coming indie rockers, this venue regularly hosts local showcases.

Listers who want something a little different from the radio’s top 40 playlist will find New Jersey to be a breath of fresh air, especially when roaming into underground, DIY, basement jam sessions that are as indie as it comes.

New Jersey is filled with emerging local talent.

In recent years, New Jersey has made some new stars in music that contribute to the national music scene, including Charlie Puth, Fetty Wap, Halsey, and SZA. With these headlining artists gaining traction, New Jersians are eager to build up their favorite musicians, singers, and songwriters. Websites like App, Paste, and New have questioned readers on their favorite local acts; contributors had much to say. They praised Cranston Dean, Dinosaur Eyelids, Jackson Pines, Avery Mandeville, Hodera, Julian Fulton, Latewaves, Whiner, Poca, Lyons, and more. For those seeking the experience of live music, there is no shortage of listening opportunities in New Jersey.

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