Atlanta concert venues offer variety of atmospheres, genres

There are numerous benefits to attending a college in the middle of a city: nearby sporting events, bustling nightlife and future career opportunities, to name a few. However, when that city also happens to be both the “Hip Hop Capital of the World” and an epicenter for country tunes and a thriving rock scene, there always seems to be something to do just outside the Tech campus. With various concert venues surrounding the downtown area, Atlanta offers multiple settings for different genres, artists and musical atmospheres.

Perhaps one of the most well-known music venues in the entire state, Philips Arena is ranked as the third-busiest concert venue in the U.S. Seating over 21,000, Philips easily attracts some of the biggest-name performers. This year, look out for Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias and Justin Bieber as they all pass their tours through one of Atlanta’s most unforgettable spots.

Also less than a mile from the North Avenue border of Tech is Creative Loafing’s 2010 choice for “Best Concert Venue” and “Best New Use for an Old Building”: the Tabernacle. Originally a century-old church, complete with stained-glass windows, the Tabernacle maintains a unique sense of antiquity and distinctiveness. While the open space accommodates top-notch acoustics, a capacity of only 2,600 people allows concert-goers a much more intimate experience than many of Atlanta’s larger, big-name venues. This fall, look out for Ben Folds Five, the All-American Rejects, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, AWOLNATION, The Script and many more to pass through.

Located 10 minutes from Tech in the eclectic neighborhood of Little 5 Points, Variety Playhouse is yet another Atlanta favorite. The interior is decorated with a 1940s movie theatre façade and continually attracts a variety of indie-rock performers. However, many local legends and international treasures have also been known to grace the stage. Many lesser-known acts are on the upcoming fall schedule—including “Dirty Projectors” and “The Brian Jonestown Massacre”—but are nevertheless sure to provide excellent and rather inexpensive entertainment at a must-see venue.

One other nearby concert site that caters to a narrower genre of music is “Blind Willie’s,” located only three miles from campus in the Virginia-Highlands neighborhood. This blues joint is small, dark and typically rather crowded. With live music every night and special coming attractions as well—typically for around $6—Blind Willie’s is always open for good music and a good time.

While blues fans identify with Blind Willie’s and Variety Playhouse is more well-known to indie-rock fans, the Masquerade is a favorite among most college-age music-lovers. Located just south of Tech in a rusty old mill building, the Masquerade has been Atlanta’s leading rock and alternative music venue for the past two decades. Due to multiple stages on different levels of the building, more than one band can play at once, offering a welcome choice for concert-goers.

Finally, for a welcome change in the downtown music scene, Tech students can experience one of the many outdoors amphitheaters. Chastain Park Amphitheater is less than ten miles away and is Atlanta’s most eminent outdoor music venue. Set in the midst of a quaint yet urbanized park in Buckhead, Chastain attracts some of the biggest names in music—including Duran Duran and Gotye this fall. By offering stadium-style seating, large tables near the stage or a lawn area for a mid-concert picnic, this venue can seat almost 7,000 people and provides incredibly memorable concert experiences.

Ultimately, Atlanta can offer it all: from an edgy venue full of screaming teenagers and upcoming artists to a stadium that seats more people than the entire population of Tech, any music fan can find somewhere to satisfy themselves within this great city. Just go out and look!