Atlanta’s most popular concert venues

Photo by Joey D’Adamio Student Publications. A front view of the Masquerade’s smallest venue, Purgatory. The Masquerade is located near Georgia State University, and mainly hosts alternative artists.

There are many reasons that moving to a big city like Atlanta can be exciting for young adults. If you’re an avid music fan, one of those reasons is the multitude of venues scattered around the city. At a school like Tech, students have easy access to downtown Atlanta, and by extension, an abundance of live music.

Several places are already well known by most, such as Mercedes-Benz Stadium and State Farm Arena, which act as concert venues while not hosting Atlanta’s soccer and basketball games. However, the biggest venues are not the only places to find invigorating live music.

Unlike stadium shows that have layers upon layers of seating surrounding one stage in the center, the following venues have all of their seating in front of the stage so no matter where you are, you will always have a full view of the artists you are seeing.

THE MASQUERADE

Only a 15-minute drive away from Tech — or a seven-minute walk from the Georgia State MARTA station — is the Masquerade. The venue can be found in the lower area of Underground Atlanta known as “Kenny’s Alley.” It was founded in 1989 and is known for its three different indoor areas named Heaven, Hell and keeping with the trend, Purgatory.

The venues surround an open-air courtyard and vary in size, Purgatory being the smallest with a capacity of 300, Heaven being the largest with a capacity of 1500 and Hell being a size in-between the two.

Over the years, the Masquerade has played host to legendary bands such as Nirvana, Foo Fighters and Nine Inch Nails. Now, its stages are occupied by groups ranging from ODESZA to Sleeping With Sirens.

The venue is also filled with music festival history. In 1992, the first Warped Tour played the complex and was later followed by the first Imagine Fest and Shaky Knees festival, both in 2013, and the first Wrecking Ball ATL in 2015.

The environment itself is unique and buzzing with energy, whether you are on a couch in Purgatory, in the pit in Hell or enjoying the view from the second floor of Heaven. For fans of the alternative, rock, metal, indie, electronic and punk genres, this venue is an absolute essential.

THE TABERNACLE

Driving five minutes south of the North Avenue apartments of Tech will find you at the Tabernacle. Located behind the SkyView Atlanta Ferris wheel and across the street from Centennial Olympic Park, this venue was opened in 1910 as a Baptist church. It remained as such until some time in the 80s, when the congregation moved and the building lay abandoned. However, the 1996 Olympic Games saw it converted into a thriving live music location.

The venue has hosted a variety of big names from every genre during its lifetime, including artists like Prince, Duran Duran and — in more recent years — Lizzo, Conan Gray and the Jonas Brothers.

The main concert hall itself has a listed capacity of 2,600 with a standing-room-only main floor and three separate seated balconies. All areas mentioned above can be accessed by purchasing a general admission ticket, though the seats are first come, first serve.

Visual reminders of the venue’s origins as a church remain in its large stained-glass windows, wood panel floors, patterned walls and balconies, and the ornate chandelier hanging from the ceiling.

BUCKHEAD THEATRE

Another 15-minute drive away from Tech, in the opposite direction of the Masquerade, lies Buckhead Theatre, a former movie-theater-turned-music-venue. Originally opened in 1931, the venue underwent seven name changes before returning to its current name when it was renovated and reopened in 2010.

The theater has staged notable artists like Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Offspring, but doesn’t only function as a concert venue. Buckhead Theatre also hosts a variety of non-music acts such as comedy specials and theater performances; it is also a popular location for weddings, corporate luncheons, bat/bar mitzvahs and other private events.

Built in an elegant Spanish-baroque style, the venue has lamp-lit concrete arches, heavy maroon curtains and an overall rock-and-roll feel to it. The theater itself is said to hold roughly 1,400 people, with a main floor and upper balcony. Outside, a large electronic marquee topped with two screens is visible from the street, reminiscent of the brightly lit Broadway theaters of Times Square.

THE COCA-COLA ROXY

One of the newer venues in Atlanta is the Coca-Cola Roxy. It opened in 2017 and is named after one of Buckhead Theatre’s previous monikers — before it returned to being “Buckhead Theatre.” A 15-minute drive down I-75 N, right off the highway, sits the 40,000-square-foot music venue. With a listed capacity of a little over 2,000, the venue has seen artists from all genres, ranging from Twenty One Pilots to Juice WRLD to Hozier.

Much like Buckhead Theatre, the Coca-Cola Roxy also books private events like weddings and corporate parties. The layout includes a main floor and balcony seating, both of which are said to be ADA wheelchair compliant. Finished hardwood floors and six glittering chandeliers elevate the ambiance of the space, regardless of whether you’re there seeing BABYMETAL or attending a wedding. Out front, a brightly lit marquee mimics that of its old home at the Buckhead Theatre, lighting up the street well into the night.

AISLE 5

Little Five Points is an expressionist neighborhood in Atlanta located 11 minutes away from Tech by car. The area itself is covered with brightly colored murals and street art, the perfect hub for alternative subcultures ranging from punks to hippies.

Nestled in between Arden’s Garden juice shop and Moods Music record store is Aisle 5. In one of the smaller venues in Atlanta, you are most likely to find indie artists as well as groups that fall under more “alternative genres.” Artists like The Wrecks, Sasha Sloan and Phoebe Bridgers have all played shows there.

Since the venue is much smaller than others, shows are primarily standing room only, with the exception of some barstools lining the far wall.

Because of its size, however, Aisle 5 concerts have a more intimate feeling to them, allowing the audience to feel more connected with whoever it is that they are seeing, no matter where in the room they are standing.

Though it may not be as known as other venues, don’t count this one out!

Live music is one of the many amazing things that the city has to offer, just find a band you like — or even one you have never heard of — and have a rockin’ night!