By Hilary Crisan

As an avid concertgoer, I always found that the venue is an important aspect of a concert. I have been to shows in Cleveland, Akron, Kent and Columbus, and I have seen bands like The Who, Bob Dylan, The Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam. The location of the venue, the ticket prices and the proximity of the stage to the audience are all large components that factor into my decision and enjoyment of a show. My top ten concert venues will ensure that you will have the best concert experience possible.

1. The Kent Stage

175 E. Main St. Kent, Ohio 44240

The Kent Stage is a loved concert venue among the Kent population because of its size and who is playing. It’s a compact venue where the first row of seats and the stage are about five feet away from each other. The Kent Stage also books big names in classic rock and folk, such as Todd Rundgren, Joan Baez and, most recently, Eric Burdon and The Animals. Tom Simpson, owner of the Kent Stage, also makes sure ticket prices are as low as possible so us poor college students can go see a great show for cheap.

2. The E.J. Thomas Hall

198 Hill St. Akron, Ohio 44325

In 2012, I had the pleasure of seeing legendary folk-rock musician Bob Dylan at the E.J. Thomas Hall. When I was told my seat would be in the 13th row, I was a little concerned. If I was seeing someone as legendary as Bob Dylan in concert, I wanted to be able to actually see him. But, when I entered the hall, I was surprised to see that the 13th row was not that far at all. I had a clear, wonderful view of Dylan and his band at the time. I was so close I could smell the incense he was burning from the stage. The E.J. Thomas Hall is a perfect venue for a folk show.

3. EuroGyro

107 S. Depeyster St. Kent, Ohio 44240

If you like local music and going to local shows, then EuroGyro is the place for you. The bar and restaurant houses bands on the weekends in an intimate setting. The stage is small and usually used for seating customers whenever it’s not being used for musicians to play on. It allows the band to be closer to the attendees. While watching your local talent, you can grab a few drinks or some food to munch on during the performance. Ticket prices, if there are any, are usually never more than $20.

4. The Outpost Concert Club

4962 state Route 43, Kent, Ohio 44240

The Outpost is another small and fantastic venue for the local music lover. The Outpost allows audience members to squish themselves against the stage, which is important, to me, because it builds a relationship between the band and audience. If you’re not one for pits, The Outpost also has two full bars and serves food, so you can grab a drink or two and hang out in the back.

5. The Wolstein Center

2000 Prospect Ave. E., Cleveland, Ohio 44115

I saw two bands at the Wolstein Center: pop-punk group My Chemical Romance and classic rocker Neil Young. One highlight for both shows was the size of the venue. Neil Young is a world-famous, highly popular musician, and even in the balcony, I had a clear view of him and his band. When I saw My Chemical Romance, it was at the peak of their popularity while touring for their famous concept album “The Black Parade.” I was on the floor for that concert, and it was easy for me to access the barricade and get as close as possible to the band.

6. House Of Blues

308 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, Ohio 44114

The House Of Blues is a favorite venue for many reasons, such as the drinks, its size and the bands that play there. I saw two indie-rock groups at the House Of Blues: Beirut and Vampire Weekend. The sound quality for The House Of Blues is fantastic, the size of the venue allows all spots, no matter where they are, to have a great view of the stage. There is also a bar people to grab a drink beforehand and food to munch on either before or after the show.

The Agora Theatre and Ballroom

5000 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, Ohio 44103

When I went to The Agora, I was surprised at how small the venue was. I went to see My Chemical Romance for the second time at the Agora, and while it was packed, I was still able to get as close as possible to the stage without difficulty. If you’re not one for opening bands, The Agora would be the place to arrive at a show late. Accessing the pit and getting close isn’t difficult, even with a full house.

8. Blossom Music Center

1145 W. Steel Corners Rd., Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio 44223

Blossom Music Center is the perfect summer venue. Bands that tour during the summer always make a stop at Blossom, including laid-back Hawaiian musician Jack Johnson and Dave Matthews Band. Lawn seats are available for cheap at Blossom, where you can bring a blanket and sit outside of the venue to watch the concert on screens. While seeing a band live is fun, it can take a lot of time to plan. Blossom allows you to relax on a nice summer day, sit on the lawn and leisurely enjoy some live music.

9. Palace Theatre

1615 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, Suite 200, Ohio 44115

The Palace Theatre is originally a venue for musicals and plays, but seeing live music there is also great. Since the Palace is usually set up for theater, the sound quality is great for musicians. I saw 90s alternative rockers The Smashing Pumpkins at the Palace, and my experience was the perfect mixture of rock concert and going to the theater. The stage is a great juxtaposition to harsh guitars and vocals.

10. Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica

2014 Sycamore St., Cleveland, Ohio 44113

Nautica is also a great summertime venue. Jacobs Pavilion is an open venue with tented roofs and open sidings. You can enjoy your favorite band in the fresh air, in comfortable seating where you have the option to relax or stand up and dance.