A Guide to My Favorite Concert Venues in Atlanta

Amalee McWaters, Staff Writer

As a music lover living in the diverse city of Atlanta, I have been able to have first-hand experience with the city’s rich music culture. I have been to many concerts, including large shows at some of Atlanta’s arenas and stadiums, and to some of its smaller, more intimate gems. In this guide, I will share some of my favorite venues, including The Eastern, Terminal West, Variety Playhouse, The Masquerade, and – my all-time favorite – record store shows!


The Eastern

Located in Reynoldstown just off I-20, this is a fairly new venue. Although a recent addition to the scene, many bands and fans alike enjoy this venue. It is an intimate space but still houses a large crowd of up to 2,200 people. It has multiple levels, each offering a great view of the stage. Some of my favorite bands have performed here, including Pavement, The Backseat Lovers, and many others. Also, a few of my favorites will be performing throughout the rest of this year, like Cigarettes After Sex, The Struts, Mac Saturn, Declan McKenna, and Stephan Sanchez.


Terminal West 

Terminal West in West Midtown has been such a memorable venue for me as it was where I first saw Blondshell and Suki Waterhouse. The venue surely has a unique aesthetic with lots of brick and concrete walls, and a rich sound quality as the band’s sound carries through the whole space, even on the balcony. This venue is much more intimate than The Eastern as it only has two levels and is notably smaller with a capacity of 625. One upcoming show from one of my favorites is Indigo De Souza. I would definitely recommend seeing a show at this venue at some point.


Variety Playhouse 

The very venue where I saw Lowertown and Beabadoobee is Variety Playhouse in Little Five Points. With a capacity of 1,100, I must say that the venue is set up incredibly well because no matter where you stand (or sit if you are one of those people at concerts), you have a perfect view of the stage (unless, of course, you are behind a tall person). This venue has been open since the 1940s and has been a home to many icons such as David Bowie and the Black Keys. When there aren’t bands performing, the stage is turned into a theater where various movies are shown.


The Masquerade 

If you have been in the scene of intimate venues, you surely should know about the Masquerade. It was located near the Old Fourth Ward for decades, but moved several years ago to Underground Atlanta downtown. This intimate venue has been iconic for years with its three stages: Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell. The stages mainly show rock bands and are mostly never all-ages shows. Bands like Green Day, Nirvana, and The Smashing Pumpkins have played here. I have seen The Velveteers on the Purgatory stage, which was a very memorable experience as I got to meet the band afterward.

*Concert tip!: If you are seeing a general admission show for one of your favorite bands, arrive early, and stay after. Who knows what could happen…


Record store shows 

One of the most intimate experiences you could have is seeing a band perform at a small record store, and sometimes an experience like this is just what you need. This is where Criminal Records in Little Five Points comes in. The store regularly hosts local and touring bands in their small space, usually for free. The store has great sound quality, and the fact that you can watch live music or hear it while you are shopping is amazing. The concert experience is different here than it is anywhere else.


In conclusion, of course there are common large venues in Atlanta, but it is also home to many intimate hidden gems. From the historic Variety Playhouse, to the industrial Terminal West, the city has a venue that’s perfect for every music lover. And if you’re looking for a more personal experience, check out Criminal Records. With so many options in Atlanta, there is no excuse not to become a part of the music scene.