Top 10 Music Venues in Atlanta

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There are some great music venues all throughout the United States, and there are some hidden gems that music lovers might not even know about. Many of these venues feature local artists, particularly well-known in their area, as well as regional and national artists that are critically acclaimed and have a drawn fanbase. Several of these venues are such well-known that they’re magnitude has spread worldwide to Europe and surrounding countries. If you’ve visited the Atlanta area or know of a venue you think should be included, please feel free to leave a comment.

Eddie’s Attic

This venue is small, yet known world-wide and is coveted by its performers, who often return on numerous occasions because they treat their folks and musicians extremely well. John Mayer got his start in this room as a host and then ended up performing at their legendary open mic nights. The venue is considered one of the premier venues in the South, and is known for their “listening room” where folks are asked to silence their cell phones and to listen to the music and the artist singing the songs. Artists who have made a name for themselves from their humble beginning at the Attic are Sugarland, Shawn Mullins, The Civil Wars, among many others. The Attic has also won a number of “Best Of” Awards for the last seven years. Eddie’s Attic is located in Decatur, GA, a small town within the metro-Atlanta area. Artists that we love that have performed at Eddie’s are Meiko, Crystal Bowersox, Susanna Hoffs, Michelle Malone and so many more!

Fox Theatre

Without a doubt, the Fox Theatre is historically and locally an attraction by its grandeur and popular history amongst the locals and with Broadway and film. Its purpose was originally intended as an organization for Atlanta’s Shriners, but ended up going through some financial difficulties and other hurdles, before becoming as it is known today. For its full history, click HERE. Some facts about The Fox, as it’s affectionately known, receives close to 1 million visitors each year, and hosts concerts, as well as visiting ambassadors, U.S. politicians, and other notable people. Making it even more notable in history, it is one of the very first air-conditioned buildings, houses original steam boilers today, although ceases using them, and serves more than a half-ton of popcorn each year. There are continuous ongoing restorations at the Fox, and have a variety of musical performances, past and present. Most recent sold-out performances were Amy Grant and Vince Gill with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Joe Bonamassa, who performed two nights consecutively, and The Moody Blues, Jennifer Nettles, Heart, The Lion King play, and many more are upcoming. 

The Tabernacle

The Tabernacle opened in 2010 as The Broughton Tabernacle, as a former church with several thousand congregation members. Shortly after the Olympics were held in Atlanta in 1996, the building had been occupied by different owners, and has been a music venue since. LiveNation, one of the world’s largest live music companies, currently operates the Tabernacle. One of the many facets of this building is its amazing acoustics, as well as seating layout. From a personal perspective, and having seen a few concerts there, the best seat in the house is in the balcony. Wonderful view, great seats, and some of the best bands in music today and from the past. We recently had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Serena Ryder at The Tabernacle.

Variety Playhouse

Built like a movie theatre, Variety Playhouse has been hosting musical performances for several years now and was almost destroyed, but was renovated just in the nick of time. The unique aspect of this venue is the intimate proximity of the musical acts that perform and the quality of standing room, with optional seating, if one prefers. It has been awarded “Best Concert Venue” for several years by Atlanta’s Creative Loafing, Atlanta Magazine, and other local and regional publications. You can catch local, regional and national acts at this venue, and critically-acclaimed performers have included Carolina Chocolate Drops, Over the Rhine, Robert Earl Keen, Aimee Mann and dozens others. Theyalso open their doors to the Girls Rock Atlanta Chapter for their annual show.  Kudos to the Variety Playhouse!

Center Stage Theatre

Center Stage is different from our other Top 10 choices surrounding Midtown, because it houses three venues in one: Vinyl, the Loft, and Center Stage. With Center Stage holding the maxium capacity of just over a 1,000, the Vinyl and the Loft holding between 300-650, respectively. The smaller venues host local and regional musicians with a wide fan-base, and Center Stage has local, regional and national artists performing year-round, including most recently, Juliett Simms of The Voice Fame, and Chris Cornell’s sold-out show to Jonny Lang and his band’s final act of his US tour for 2013. Center Stage has more than enough seating room and standing room for those who like to be close to the stage. Great views and great atmosphere make this place one of the very best.

The Earl

Although it’s a small room, it has served as host for breaking new artists such as Cat Power, Houndmouth, Bobby Long, and Jill Andrews. Their food, especially their burgers, are very tasty and are even better washed down with a smooth beer from one of their excellent bartenders. Although there’s no sitting, except in the lounge areas (but they’re usually the first to go), customers have close proximity to the artist and the stage, as its maximum capacity is 300. This venue only allows original artists, no cover or jam bands, no metal or commercialized music. Performers included Sondre Lerche, The Kills, Tokyou Police Club, The National, etc.

Terminal West

This music venue is a newer venue in the Atlanta area, based in the heart of Midtown. As it states on its website, this building is “an extensive renovation to a 100 year old iron and steel foundry originally used to manufacture plows as a part of the King Plow Company.” It has quickly become a favorite amongst many Atlanta concert-goers, noting their good food, spacious room, and great bands that accompany the venue. Past and future performers include Larkin Poe, Washed Out, The Ringers, Gaelic Storm, vonGrey, Kate Nash and Jason Isbell. Take a ‘virtual’ tour of Terminal West HERE.

Smiths Olde Bar

This lively music venue is considered a staple among music lovers in Atlanta. It holds 300 people, and has two rooms, the main room, and the Atlanta room. The main room features more of the heavy rockers and the Atlanta room focuses on the acoustic, light element. Mostly local and national bands are frequented at Smith’s and recent bands that have performed at Smith’s are Mike Pinto, All The Locals, and Graham Colton.

Arena at Gwinnett Center

With a holding capacity of 13,000, the arena holds music performances, hockey and basketball games, wrestling tournaments, bull riding championships and other conventions, including corporate and party suites. Folks can rent the arena for their event also. It is divided into three aspects; arena, convention center and performing arts. Several of our favorite artists that have made appearances at this venue are Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert, and many others.

Chastain Park Amphitheater

This monumental amphitheater has become a staple in the Atlanta community, and was unveiled in 1944. The theater is surrounded by oak and magnolia trees, making it a lush and scenic surrounding performance. It has recently celebrated its 40th anniversary. Performances include Colbie Caillat, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Shawn Colvin, the Indigo Girls, Joan Baez, Ricky Skaggs, Bruce Hornsby, Buddy Guy, Chris Botti, etc.

Did we miss one in the Atlanta area? Let us know what you would include if you’re in the Atlanta area. Have you visited a really cool venue in Atlanta and it left an indelible mark? We’d love to know! Share your thoughts below:

Cover Photo courtesy of Huffington Post 

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