What do Outkast, John Mayer and Sugarland all have in common? These popular musicians all hail from Atlanta. From rap to country to rock and the blues, from hole-in-the-wall clubs to intimate theatres to large capacity stages, the city has a venue and a concert for every musical taste and style. Here are 12 of Atlanta's best music venues.
Built in the 1928, this nearly 5,000 seat historic Shriners headquarters and former movie hall has been repurposed into a modern performance venue hosting everything from smash Broadway shows like Hamilton and Waitress to touring comedians and film festivals. The building's ornate, Islamic and Egyptian-inspired interiors — complete with lush textiles and fantastical ceilings with twinkling crystal stars — also provides an intimate setting for concerts. While everyone from Mariah Carey to the Allman Brothers has performed here, it's perhaps best known as the site of Prince's last performance, held a week before his death in 2016.
State Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Park
Tucked away in a beautiful residential neighborhood in the heart of Buckhead, State Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Park is one of the city's most popular outdoor summer venues. It's the summer home of Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and has hosted everyone from hometown favorites The Indigo Girls to Willie Nelson and Blondie. While there are concessions on-site, select shows allow you to bring in your own drinks and treats, so load up that basket with your best candelabra and tableware, because picnicking at Chastain is a competitive sport.
Tucked away in the King Plow Arts Center in West Midtown, this intimate venue has a cozy, industrial vibe and a knack for booking indie and up-and-coming artists before they hit it big. Sturgill Simpson, the Killers, Alessia Cara, Imagine Dragons and T.I. are some of the artists who've performed in this 600 person room with stellar acoustics and attentive audiences.
While namesake founder Eddie Owen has since moved on to other projects, this gem in downtown Decatur is still a good bet for catching local musicians and acclaimed acts alike. The venue's acclaimed Open Mic Shootout counts John Mayer, Shawn Mullins, Tyler Childers and Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles among its winners and its no-talking during shows rule makes the space a treat for audiences and artists alike.
This former Baptist Church was resurrected as a House of Blues during the Olympic boon of the mid 1990s. Now owned by Live Nation, the 2,600 seat downtown venue is defined by its stellar acoustics and its equally impressive roster of musicians. Past performers have included Eminem, Lana del Rey, Kendrick Lamar and Bob Dylan.
This tavern — often considered the city's best dive bar — is a rare relic of the Westside's gritty, industrial roots. Come for the cheap beer and stay for the live blues music, seven nights a week. There's no cover charge on weeknights.
At this East Atlanta Village mainstay, the burgers are as good as the music. Indie acts ranging from St. Vincent to The National to the Avett Brothers have all graced the stage of the popular neighborhood watering hole, listed as one of America's 40 Best Music Venues.
Located in the heart of the eclectic Little Five Points neighborhood, this World War II-era movie theater turned intimate concert hall has a mix of seated and standing options and offers a wide range of musical acts, including folk, bluegrass, rock and world music. Tank and the Bangas, Ryan Adams, Jenny Lewis and Gillian Welch have all performed here.
Ameris Bank Amphitheatre
Yes, it's in the suburbs, but the amenities — tree cover, comfortable seating and ample concessions — make the trek north worth it. Ameris Bank Ampitheatre seats 7,000 with additional capacity of 5,000 on the lawn and has hosted big name acts ranging from Jimmy Buffet to Luke Combs to the Goo Goo Dolls.
This Midtown complex is essentially three venues in one: the primary namesake stage, with a capacity of 1,050, and two smaller stages, Vinyl and the Loft. The music here varies from rock to hip hop and everything in between, with Lady Gaga, the Weeknd, Chris Cornell and Widespread Panic having all headlined here.
Smith's Olde Bar
Don't be fooled by the low-frills vibe. This tiny Midtown bar is a go-to spot for local up-and-coming musicians and you might just spot the next Zach Brown Band or Janelle Monae here. Come early for a round of pool or a drink with some locals at the bar downstairs.
Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
The home of the Atlanta Ballet and the Atlanta Opera, the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre is also a popular live music venue. Expect indie acts like Amos Lee and Neko Case, Broadway stars like Kristin Chenoweth and unlike most of the city's other venues, ample and easy parking.