City Guide / Atlanta

The 18 Best Music Venues in Atlanta

By Lauren Finney Harden | Dec 2, 2022
A guitarist takes the stage at a live music venue in Atlanta, GA.

One of the big draws of Atlanta—besides a relatively low cost of living, access to ample greenspace, and diversity, of course—is its vibrant cultural scene, which includes nightlife like comedy shows and nightclubs, as well as daytime festivals and events. Many note Atlanta’s thriving music scene as a reason to visit—and maybe a reason to stay. Famous artists like Lil Nas X, Outkast, Ludacris, Zach Brown Band, and more got their start playing local venues in Georgia.

Whether you’re looking for a bar, concert hall, lounge, or outdoor space, this city has somewhere special for you to experience some fantastic live music. If you’re ready to dive into the scene, here are 18 of the best music venues in Atlanta, including:

  • The best dive bars with live music in Atlanta
  • The best clubs with live music in Atlanta
  • The best live music venues in Atlanta
  • The best concert venues in Atlanta

Let’s get started!

The best dive bars with live music in Atlanta

1. Blind Willie’s

Blind Willie’s, a dive bar and blues venue in the popular Midtown neighborhood of Virginia-Highland, has been a neighborhood bar since 1986. Blues, jazz, and more play concerts five nights a week to locals and visitors alike. There’s a cover, and tickets cannot be reserved in advance. You’ll want to grab a seat in the admittedly tight space and dig into Cajun-inspired menu items like jambalaya and red beans and rice. After the show, there are plenty of nearby dive bars to continue the fun.

2. Northside Tavern

A quintessential experience involves catching a show at Northside Tavern, a joint that’s been open since the 1940s. Absolutely stubborn in its West Midtown location—the “Tavern” has seen an enormous build-up around it, but still it stays—Northside Tavern is one of those dive bars where anything can happen, from karaoke to cookouts out front.

Live music the entire week includes blues, rock, and R&B. On weeknights, there is no cover but do note that on weekends, there is a $10 cover at the door. This is not a place to wear your finest—you might be coerced into dancing on the tiny dance floor, which could see you bumping into sticky walls and floors. It’s all a part of the charm! Parking is extremely limited.

3. Smith’s Olde Bar

At Smith’s Olde Bar, on the edge of Ansley Park and Morningside, you can expect just about anything to happen. Around for 30 years, artists such as David Bowie, John Mayer, and Rage Against the Machine have played here. A cocktail bar this is not—expect beer, wings, and burgers, not mixology. A billiards room and dedicated live music venue with a stage upstairs will have your senses occupied from the moment you walk in the door. Parking is practically nonexistent here, so plan ahead.

4. The Star Community Bar

Affectionately known as Star Bar, the classic Little Five Points venue The Star Community Bar has been serving up live music five times a week since 1991. It’s also home to the longest-running amateur comedy show in the ATL, Rotneee Presents. Cheap drinks, relatively inexpensive covers, and a cast of characters keep Star Bar as one of the most beloved Atlanta bars there is. Heads up: Thursdays are free!

5. 529

A dive bar and concert venue, 529—named for its East Atlanta Village address—is the place to go to see up-and-comers. The snug space of the small venue makes it feel all that more intimate, and the inexpensive drinks and eclectic mix of acts keep locals coming. The party spills out to the sidewalk afterward. Note that the music generally starts exceptionally late, so night owls will love it.

The best clubs with live music in Atlanta

1. District

District, a warehouse club in Armour Yards, is known for hosting big-name DJs Paul Van Dyk and Steve Aoki, as well as award-winning house DJs, including some that are Atlanta-based. Three-hundred floating orbs will make dancing a sensory experience to remember. Entry fees start at $15 and go up, with bottle service always an option.

2. MJQ Concourse

Simply known to locals as MJQ, this Old Fourth Ward slash Poncey-Highland club—just east of Midtown—is short for Modern Jazz Quartet, the founder’s favorite band (although the music tends to lean more contemporary). Regularly featured themed days like MQJ Jams (touted as “your Uber driver’s third-favorite dance party”) are complemented by DJ sets from up-and-comers. If you’re more of a ticket kind of person, then the club-within-a-club at MJQ, called Drunken Unicorn, is your spot.

3. Tongue & Groove

Tongue & Groove is one of the most celebrated nightclubs in the city. The Buckhead club is notorious for hosting some of the best local and international DJs, as well as live music acts, all in a traditional club setting (think light shows, smoke, and more). Be sure to check out local DJ EU, who spins in residence at T&G. He’s also the official DJ for Atlanta United and spins for the Hawks and the Braves.

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The best live music venues in Atlanta

1. The Works

The Works, a new mixed-use development on the Upper Westside in West Midtown, is an unexpected place to catch a concert. Whether at the brewery Dr. Scofflaw’s at The Works, at Chattahoochee Food Works food hall, or on the lawn at The Camp, you really never know where live music will pop up on the property. The perfect place for young professionals, families, and even pups, the Works experience is accented by the many live music offerings available. Once you’re done jamming, you can post up at Fox Bros. BBQ, Your 3rd Spot, or American Axes.

2. The Painted Pin

Tucked down a random side street in Buckhead is The Painted Pin, a bar, bowling, and entertainment venue that features live music. Play games, get food and drink, and sway along to up-and-coming bands, solo acts, and DJs. If you’re more of a Westside person, its sister property, The Painted Duck—which features smaller duckpins in its bowling alley—is also an option.

3. Eclipse di Luna

Three locations of Eclipse di Luna have been keeping fans dancing to live Latin music in Georgia for years. Six times a week, diners can experience soulful beats, and salsa lessons are offered on several nights in the bar and lounge. Come hungry to experience the tapas-style menu, which features Spanish classics like brochetas and ceviche. Check the calendar of events to see when flamenco and other special events will be performed in the lounge.

4. Avalon

Avalon one of the hottest developments in Georgia—is a central place for all sorts of shopping, dining, and entertainment in Alpharetta, one of the best suburbs of Atlanta, which is about 20 miles from downtown. On Fridays, Avalon Nights Live brings live music to the main plaza. Take note that Avalon has no open container law on the property, meaning you can meander from restaurant to shop to concert as you please, and even indulge in hanging out at some of the center’s rooftop bars and lounges to catch the music from afar.

The best concert venues in Atlanta

1. Terminal West

Once a foundry on the Westside, Terminal West brings some of the hottest live music acts to Georgia. This standing-room-only venue holds about 600, making it a somewhat intimate place to see musical acts like Perpetual Groove and Spacey Jane, to name a few. While there’s no dedicated rooftop bar, there is an upstairs outdoor patio. Parking is available onsite, and the venue is walkable to many of West Midtown’s most popular restaurants.

2. The EARL

In business for over 20 years, The EARL is an East Atlanta Village concert and comedy staple. Attached to a bar and restaurant, the live venue has shows every single evening and is one of the most respected music venues in town. Expect everyone from up-and-coming acts to semi-famous hometown artists to appear. The food gets mixed reviews, but you’re here for the music, anyway. The bathrooms leave much to be desired, so know that going in. Concert tickets can be bought online in advance.

3. The Eastern

New to ATL is The Eastern, a music venue in Reynoldstown. This state-of-the-art yet intimate concert venue holds approximately 2,200 people and has featured artists ranging from Marcus Mumford to The Disco Biscuits. As part of the Dairies complex, there are plenty of nearby restaurants to start and end the night, such as Wonderkid, Grindhouse Killer Burgers, and Agave, to name a few, and a full bar at the venue to keep you satisfied.

4. Variety Playhouse

The iconic Variety Playhouse is at the tail end of Euclid Ave. in Little Five Points. The building dates to the 1940s and has been showcasing music in its current iteration for over 30 years. It holds approximately 1,000 guests for concerts in a staggered seating arrangement—there’s never anyone blocking your view—who jam to a wide range of artists in many genres.

5. Coca-Cola Roxy

A Live Nation concert venue, the Coca-Cola Roxy debuted at The Battery about five years ago and is one of the most impressive places to see a show in Georgia. It’s named after the downtown Roxy Theatre was torn down in the 1970s. There is room for over 4,000 standing-room-only guests and 800 seats to see over 40 live shows a year. As part of The Battery, you can make an entire day out of visiting the shops and restaurants attached to Truist Park.

6. Eddie’s Attic

Decatur’s most historic live music concert venue is Eddie’s Attic, notorious for having hosted local acts before they became famous, such as Shawn Mullins, Sugarland, Justin Bieber, John Mayer, and more. Founded by Eddie Owen in the early ’90s, this venue lets you reserve tables or go the general admission route. No matter what you choose, you’ll have a great seat at the venue, which only holds 165 people. While its singer-songwriter open mic nights have been canceled indefinitely since COVID-19, you should check the website for updates, because they’re truly worth the trip. Head to The Square before your show and hit up local favorites like Brick Store Pub or Chai Pani.

Looking to move to Atlanta?

A-town’s live music scene is all the more fun when you have a convenient place to land. If you’re thinking about heading to the ATL area, Landing offers fully furnished apartments, along with flexible leases that allow members to stay in town on their terms. Learn more about becoming a Landing member today!

Lauren Finney Harden

Lauren Finney Harden is an Atlanta-based writer, specializing in lifestyle topics such as parenting, design, food, and style. She's written for publications including InStyle, Byrdie, Verywell Family, and more, and has served as editor-in-chief of several magazines, including Lonely Planet, and The Atlantan. She's an avid traveler—Uruguay has been her favorite destination so far!—and mom to a toddler.