River City Roots Festival

The Lil’ Smokies performing at last year’s River City Roots Festival.

Summer in Missoula is full of opportunities to get outside, get together with friends and experience live music.

Even though the season is winding down, there are still a few warm weeks left and plenty of festivals and concerts in the Missoula area to keep anyone satisfied.

Whether it’s a concert this fall or a festival next summer, here’s where to find hot live music in Missoula.

Missoula’s tenth River City Roots Fest takes place on August 28-29 in Caras Park and on Main Street and features two days of music, food, activities and family fun.

The event is scheduled the weekend of the first Griz football game and the start of school, so visitors and new students alike can experience Missoula, Linda McCarthy, executive director of the Missoula Downtown Association, said.

The festival is a great way for parents of new students to familiarize themselves with the town their kids will live in for the next few years.

“We want University of Montana students to know their community and downtown is the place to get to know your community,” McCarthy said.

The emphasis on art and music is what sets Missoula apart from other towns in Montana, McCarthy said. The festival enhances that by having an open, friendly atmosphere, without gates or admission fees.

“There’s no one checking your purse to see if you’re carrying something you shouldn’t be carrying,” McCarthy said.

Out to Lunch and Downtown Tonight take over downtown Missoula every summer for weekly concerts with food and beer vendors.

Out to Lunch takes place every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. until August 26. Downtown Tonight follows on Thursday evenings from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. until September 10, according to the Missoula Downtown Association website.

Every year, Big Sky Brewing Co. opens its grounds for a summer concert series, drawing huge crowds for the Decemberists, Barenaked Ladies, Modest Mouse, Gregg Allman and many more. This year’s series ends on September 9, with Primus’ Willy Wonka-themed tour, Primus & the Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble.


Year-round venues include the Adams Center and Dennison Theatre on the UM campus, the Wilma Theatre, the Top Hat, Zootown Arts Community Center and Stage 112, though most bars in town offer live music, making it easy to find a show almost every night of the year, especially for those 18 and older.

This year, the Adams Center, the largest indoor concert space in Missoula, welcomes indie-rock group Death Cab for Cutie, Christian-rockers the Newsboys and Five Finger Death Punch with Papa Roach, and many others. Tickets are available online, at umt.edu/griztix, or at the Adams Center box office.

One of the most famous buildings in Missoula, The Wilma Theatre, is currently closed for renovations after it came under new ownership last spring, but plans to open strong on October 5, with a show from Southern psych-rock group My Morning Jacket, which is sold out.

Plans for the remodeled theater include movable seating, a reconfigured lobby and a new sound system.

Located in Missoula’s Elks Lodge, Stage 112 has two different venues to welcome acts Tuesday through Saturday every week, since they added the Real Lounge downstairs about a year ago to their existing room.

This fall, Stage 112 has booked Canadian indie-rockers Of Montreal and comedian Todd Barry, known for his work on Louie and Flight of the Conchords, as well as a long career as a stand-up.

The Zootown Arts Community Center, or ZACC, offers only all-ages shows in its basement venue, as an alternative to age-restricted bar shows.

“We’re trying to concentrate on serving a broader audience,” Kia Liszak, executive director of ZACC said.

The venue, which is currently open during renovations, holds shows throughout the year, and this fall monthly shows sponsored by the college radio station KBGA and Missoula Community Radio will begin, Liszak said.

Open mic nights are a bar and college town staple, a chance to get up in front of friends and peers to impress them with your soulful, artistic side and strumming skills.

Plenty of chances to get onstage exist in Missoula and most open mic nights are only 18-plus.

On campus, the University of Montana holds an open mic every month in the University Center Atrium. For those looking to laugh, the Union Club hosts a comedy open mic night the first Thursday of every month.

For more information, visit the listed websites. Most tickets are available at Rockin Rudy's, or online.

Subscribe to Breaking News

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.
You must be logged in to react.
Click any reaction to login.