Things to do in Atlanta

The Vibrant Beat of Atlanta: A Guide to Live Music Venues

Live music in Atlanta, GA, is like color in a painting — vibrant, diverse, and inseparable. Feel the electricity of a performance at one of these venues.

It's not surprising that The New York Times once referred to Atlanta as "hip-hop's center of gravity." Atlanta's music scene kicked off in the '80s, and it's been a tour de force ever since.

Ever heard of Crunk? Well, Atlanta was a hubspot for this genre, amidst blues, trap, and more.

Discover one of the best things to do in Atlanta, tips for the type of tunes you’ll bop to, and little-known secrets about each one.

Popular Live Music Venues in Atlanta

Hip-hop, gospel, blues, R&B, soul, country, and indie — you name it, this city’s got it. Atlanta’s music scene has its own rhythm, a beat that echoes with vitality, culture, and a unique identity.

There’s no doubt you’ve sampled the aural sorcery of an ATL music superstar. But seeing an artist or your favorite band perform firsthand is an entirely different experience. Whether you’re a visitor or a local looking to get immersed in the city’s culture, a live performance is an authentic, inspirational way to do it.

1. Terminal West — T.I., The Killers, Imagine Dragons, 2 Chainz, Sam Barber

A former steel foundry and awe-inspiring space featuring exposed brickwork and bare ductwork, Terminal West is a surprisingly intimate spot to catch big bands. With a 625-person standing capacity and crisp sound system, its inviting atmosphere welcomes all genres.

Head down early for a bite to eat at the in-house restaurant, Stationside, then grab a drink with friends on the roof terrace. We love Terminal West because of its seamless fusion of early 20th-century industrial chic with cutting-edge technology and the varied mix of acts who perform there.

2. The Northside Tavern — Live Blues, Americana, Soul, and Rock

The Northside Tavern is an endlessly hip joint. It has soothed patron’s spirits and provided an outlet for blues artists to lay their souls bare before audiences since the 1970s.

Back then, the scene was still somewhat clandestine, and the venue has managed to keep that secretive, underground feel over the years.

The sound of live music spills out into the street seven nights a week. The bar’s walls are adorned with the likes of Sean Costello and Blind Willie McTell.

It’s alive with neon, grubby stickers, murals, and cinder block, and the stage is just-about big enough for a jazz band. If you’re into throwing shapes up-close-and-personal on a tiny dance floor, this is the place to be.

Appearances in Fast & Furious, Ozark, Constantine, and Anchorman 2 speak to Northside’s status as a picture-perfect, quintessential dive bar.

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3. 529 — Late Night Spot for Night Owls With Alternative Music

Atlanta’s 529 is an alternative live music venue in Atlanta showcasing subversive, avant-garde, and experimental up-and-coming talent from the city and beyond.

Live music acts play 6 nights per week in a small, smoky venue with a state-of-the-art sound system that’s so impressive, it's sure to take you by surprise.

Ever-smiling, tattoo-clad staff exchange friendly glances with patrons as they inevitably squeeze past each other to get anywhere.

And then there’s the bar — always heaving — featuring a TV showing the band so you don’t have to miss out on any action. This one’s a thrilling spot for new music fiends who take pride in scouting the next big thing before they get picked up by radio stations and streaming services.

4. Blind Willie’s — Blues and Jazz

Considering it’s Atlanta’s oldest blues club, saying Blind Willie’s has an outstanding musical heritage doesn’t quite do the spot justice.

Opened in 1986 by Eric King and Roger Gregory, musicians themselves, it’s a hotspot for gritty, heartfelt blues and mind-bending, foot-tapping jazz.

The Nighthawks, Watermelon Slim, Maria Muldaur, and house band The Shadows are a few names you might catch here.

There’s food, too. Sample Cajun menu items, such as red beans and rice or jambalaya, to satisfy your hunger before the show starts.

5. Eclipse di Luna — Latin

Eclipse di Luna is a trio of lively restaurants. They’re hubs of happiness, where Atlanta’s thriving Latin community and music lovers from all backgrounds gather.

Expect evocative live music and dancing six nights a week — and you can even head down for salsa lessons. The concert venue is always busy. Passion and corazón fill the air. And the dreamy tapas are some of the best in town.

Discover a broad spectrum of Latin tunes, from fusion jazz and flamenco to pop Latino, bachata, salsa, and merengue.

6. Smith’s Olde Bar — David Bowie, Bjork, Janelle Monae, John Mayer

Opened in 1994, Smith’s Olde Bar is arguably the best small venue to see huge live acts in Atlanta, with an upstairs capacity of 300 and space for just 100 downstairs.

This humble neighborhood joint does things simply and well, from the delicious wings, salads, and burgers to the no-frills beer and whiskey lists.

Gaze in awe at the marvelous talent of an upcoming or long-established band or artist every night of the week. In addition to music, food, and drink, Smith’s hosts a billiards competition and is a favorite among those who adore sports and music with equal fervor.

7. The EARL — King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, Joanna Newsom

Consider yourself a music connoisseur? The EARL on Flat Shoals Ave. SE is an EAV staple for alt and rock acts with tunes a little too challenging or surreal for the Billboard charts, but whose sheer force of artistry makes them international stars.

Simple, high-quality bar food, affordable beer, and friendly staff earned The EARL its rip-roaring reputation, and unforgettable vibes keep punters coming back.

Be warned, though, as cozy as the sofas lining the stage look, they’re not the best places sound-wise. Station yourself in the middle of the room to experience sonic supremacy.

Watch breathtaking performances from some of the most poetic, ethereal, and otherworldly artists (looking at you, Joanna Newsom) on your next visit to Atlanta.

8. The Star Community Bar — Catfight!, Jeff Pinkus, Telekinetic Yeti

Little Five Points wouldn’t be the same without The Star Community Bar, which has offered up its stage to up-and-coming bands in Atlanta since 1991. Catch a show five nights of the week, from rising alternative stars to much-loved local indie bands.

When there isn't live music, enjoy the longest-running inner-city comedy night, dance parties to hits from the '70s, '80s, and '90s, plus quiz nights and karaoke in Atlanta. If Little Five is your kind of place, you’ll feel right at home in this snug, low-lit dive bar.

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9. Coca-Cola Roxy — Lil Yachty, Lil Uzi Vert, Sylvan Esso, Nine Inch Nails, Pixies

The OG Roxy Theater was cast in stone as a beloved Spanish baroque style movie palace and served as a live music venue until 2005, when it closed.

The musical powers-that-be deemed its time wasn’t yet over, and it was reborn in ATL’s The Battery in 2017. Now a 3,600 capacity Live Nation venue, the Coca-Cola Roxy has theater-style seating in the main area and permanent seating on the balcony.

It’s one of the few big venues that’s ADA wheelchair accessible on both floors and features a diverse variety of acts, ranging from local up-and-comers to international supergroups.

10/ The Eastern — Carly Pearce, Alt-J, Raye, Macy Gray, Khruangbin

One of ATL’s freshest additions to the live music scene, The Eastern, has already amassed an astounding roster of past shows.

Locals love this 2,200 capacity venue for its heart-pounding sound system — we think of it as a larger version of Terminal West. The pit is huge, there are four bathrooms, and (unlike pretty much anywhere in Atlanta) it’s easy to park.

There are inventive cocktails, crisp craft beers, and other beverages served at a bar that’s imposing enough that you’ll never wait in line to grab a drink.

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11. The Tabernacle — Eminem, Bob Dylan, Ella Mai, Regina Spektor

Last but by no means least is live music behemoth, The Tabernacle, where aficionados can worship at Atlanta’s altar of sound.

Opened as a church in 1910, it was transformed into a 40,000-square-foot venue when ATL hosted the 1996 Olympic Games, and there isn’t a bad seat (or standing spot) in the house.

Everyone from Ed Sheeran to Erykah Badu has graced the stage over the years. And with its resplendent stained-glass windows and acoustics you’ll only find in a house of God, it’s easy to see why it’s an all-around favorite.

A Night Out in Atlanta: Tips for Music Lovers

Looking to get lost among a crowd of live music lovers in Atlanta tonight? We can help you make the most of your evening of music:

  • Buying tickets: Always scout for tickets using the band’s website first. Keep in mind that third-party vendors often add an administration fee, so you might as well go straight to the source! If not, be sure to use an established, reputable ticketing platform.
  • Planning: Planning might not fill your heart with song, but it makes your night infinitely smoother. If it’s your first time heading to a venue, leave early enough to account for getting lost or being unable to find the entrance. Plus, if you’re seeing a band or artist you adore perform in Atlanta, you’ll want to be first in line.
  • Preshow dining: Sample Atlanta’s culinary delights to boost your energy before your show so you can whoop, sing, and dance long into the night. Try one of the diverse vendors at Ponce City Market Food Hall, or head to an eclectic eatery in Krog Street Market. Hip-hop and seafood fans, check out Spondivits, as mentioned by ATLers Gucci Mane, 2 Chainz, and Lil Baby.
  • Nightlife: Live shows are energizing, so it’s important to know where to keep the party going once the music stops. Head to Buckhead for upscale lounges with champagne and edgy cocktails, or EAV for raucous dive bars and late-night neighborhood joints.

Atlanta Live Music Hidden Gems

Want to experience the tingle of discovery that only comes with hearing raw, new, and immersive music? Get out there, and discover the hottest, freshest live music in Atlanta tonight.

Start with Apache XLR, where rising stars hit the stage every Tuesday at the resident open-mic night. Midtown Atlanta’s Kat’s Cafe on Piedmont Ave. NE is the place to be on Thursdays for new live music, with a refined cocktail list and a wonderful community feel.

Don’t forget Piedmont Park’s Red Light Café, which styles itself as a listening room and showcases local new music from a litany of genres, including Americana, bluegrass, folk, blues, jazz, and roots rock.

Beyond Downtown: Neighborhood Live Music in Atlanta

Atlanta’s live music circuit is a tapestry of far-flung influences, subcultures, and communities. Within the city, each neighborhood boasts its own individual character. Here’s a glimpse into their music scenes.

And once you’ve listened to all the music you can, check out some of the most serene and peaceful hikes in Atlanta.

Five Points and Underground

Little Five Points is affectionately described as Atlanta’s weird and wonderful hippie hood. It’s a melting pot of music genres, and bringing together diverse influences are daily occurrences.

Underground Atlanta is Five Points' shopping and entertainment district, where you can escape into a world of delectable food, art exhibitions, dance shows, and exciting performances from big names at The Tabernacle or The Masquerade.

It’s like a slice of San Francisco, nestled away in northeast Atlanta.

Avondale Estates, and Decatur

Decatur is ideal for anyone searching for a more laid-back scene, with Eddie’s Attic being an especially soulful spot to catch an acoustic set on a covered patio — and patrons are kindly asked to silence their phones to maintain the peaceful ambiance.

Nearby, Avondale Estates hosts its annual Weekend Wind Down Concert Series certain Sundays between May and November, with plenty of paired-back live music to imbibe in.

Old Fourth Ward, Cabbagetown, Inman Park, and Reynoldstown

Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park, and Reynoldstown are a mosaic of musical artistry, with an industrial past that paved the way for much-loved venues such as City Winery Atlanta and Variety Playhouse.

East Atlanta and Grant Park

East Atlanta Village and Grant Park feel like Bohemian wonderlands where creativity and acceptance rule. Here you’ll find the 529, The EARL, and Summer Shade Festival, a thriving 2-day festival with live music, an artist’s market, and a food hall.

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The Impact of Live Music on Atlanta’s Culture

Live music is Atlanta’s lifeblood, and its venues are the beating heart, where barriers are broken down and communities come together to share in spellbinding music experiences.

Music shapes the city’s identity, fosters a sense of belonging between people, and nurtures unity. The city has a rich sonic heritage, and has served as a breeding ground for hip-hop’s pulsating beats and poetic lyrics, the soulful melodies of R&B, and the edgy rawness of rock.

Many artists grew up, found their audience, or made their name in Atlanta — from Usher and R.E.M. to Gucci Mane.

Having so many iconic artists hail from the city inspires young people to follow their dreams, and Atlanta’s public school system has a program to make them come true. The world-changing Atlanta Music Project provides under-resourced communities access to a world-class music education.

Likewise, local venues, festivals, and grassroots initiatives serve as platforms for new talent, helping to ensure Atlanta stays on the map for live music.

Photographer: Katherine Auguste

Atlanta Must-Sees for Music Fans

If you’re a music fan on a hip-hop pilgrimage in Atlanta, there are some must-see places to visit:

  • Cascade Skating Rink — a favorite with TLC and Jermaine Dupri
  • An Airbnb that was once a famous studio called The Dungeon, where Outkast recorded their early work
  • The Trap Music Museum, where you can learn all about the subversive subgenre

Which Venue Resonates With Your Soul?

Got a burning desire to catch some live music in Atlanta today? Voila! You’re bound to find a spot to suit your style on our coveted list.

If you’re the sort of person whose appetite for the extraordinary can never be quenched, we’ve got something for you. The mesmerizing spectacles at our Atlanta shows transcend the ordinary, captivating audiences with gravity-defying feats of wonder and awe-inspiring costumes.

We present an array of acrobatics, daring aerial displays, and breathtaking contortions, with no other motive than to transport you into a dream-like realm where anything is possible.

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