Atlanta Concerts

Atlanta Music Scene

Lauren Wells | February 10, 2014
Atlanta is a hub for hip-hop, R&B, and rap lovers, but if twerking isn’t your thing, don’t worry because this city has plenty to offer.  With many live venues and options for festivals, make sure you catch your favorite artists before they move onto the next town!

The History

Appalachian immigrants brought country music to Atlanta during the 1920’s, introducing Georgians to a new genre that laid the foundation for its musical growth.  The 1950’s saw mo-town/gospel legends like Gladys Knight make history and put Atlanta on the map as an entertainment hot spot.  Southern rock music flourished in Atlanta during the 1970’s, especially with songs like “Hot’Lanta” by the Allman Brothers paying tribute to the city.  The punk rock scene began in Atlanta during the 1980’s when the Sex Pistols played their first American show at the Southeastern Music Hall.  Due to the success of T.I. and the Atlanta-based duo Outkast in the ‘90’s, Atlanta became a hip-hop destination with talent like Usher, Kelly Rowland, and producer Mike WiLL Made-It rising to fame.  Hip-hop, rap, and R&B artists like Ludacris, India.Arie, 2 Chainz, and Akon flock to the city to record albums at studios like BME Recordings (founded by Lil Jon), Disturbing Tha Peace (owned by Ludacris), Grand Hustle Records (founded by T.I.), and Konvict Muzik (founded by Akon).  Because of its eclectic past, Atlanta has a live music scene worth following.

The Venues

The Tabernacle, a 104-year-old concert venue in Atlanta, hosts the biggest names in music.  As of February 7, 2014 the Tabernacle is temporarily closed due to its main floor buckling during a Panic! at the Disco concert, but keep an eye out for it to be reopened once it passes inspection. The Tabby, as it is lovingly called, is owned by Live Nation and has hosted Guns N’ Roses, Prince, Bob Dylan, Adele, and the Black Crowes, among many others.  A crack in the floor won’t keep the venue closed for long: the venue has been through all the elements, including a tornado!

The 4,600 capacity Atlanta Civic Center hosts award shows like the Trumpet Awards and the BET Hip Hop Awards as well as large acts like Prince, Melissa Etheridge, Sarah Brightman, and Ray Charles.  A rather simply decorated and designed venue, the Atlanta Civic Center wows crowds with its entertaining comedy shows, concerts, plays, and art exhibits.

Founded in 1989, the Masquerade is located in the old fourth ward neighborhood of downtown Atlanta.  The dark, hipstery nightclub features three indoor stages on each of its three floors (named Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory).  For summer shows, the Masquerade Music Park open amphitheater is located immediately behind the venue.  Mainly a space for alternative music, the venue also features up and coming punk, indie rock, electronic, and metal acts.

Atlanta Symphony Hall, home to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, is a part of the Woodruff Arts Center, the largest arts center in the Southeast.  Opening in 1968, the not-for-profit arts center contains four visual and performing arts venues on one campus.  The 1,762 capacity Atlanta Symphony Hall hosts more than 200 concerts per year and promotes educational outreach programs for the community.  Hundreds of Grammy award winning performances have been recorded at the hall.  The Alliance Theatre, Rich Theatre, and Hertz Stage also host events throughout the year as a part of the Woodruff Arts Center’s initiative.  During the summer months, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra operates out of the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park.  The 12,000 capacity outdoor space features a fan-shaped roof and steel beam architecture.  Jack Johnson, Styx, Foreigner, James Taylor, and Keith Urban will all be performing at the amphitheatre this summer along with some other big names in entertainment.

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Live Nation promote summer concerts, Broadway productions, and comedy performances at the 6,900 capacity Chastain Park Amphitheatre.  Located in the Buckhead area, the outdoor venue offers table seating, orchestra seating, and general admission lawn seating to some of the biggest names in entertainment.  Enjoy a night under the trees as stars take the stage.

Rock, country, folk, jazz, and blues lovers flock to the Variety Playhouse in the Little Five Points neighborhood.  The World War II era building was a former movie theater and has since been converted into a 1,050 capacity concert venue.  Augustana, Natasha Bedingfield, Colbie Caillat, The Dresden Dolls, The Kooks, Minus the Bear, Kate Nash, The Ting Tings, and Gogol Bordello are just a few of the talented musicians to have taken the Variety Playhouse stage.  Because of the venue’s high quality acoustics and sound system, Animal Collective, Blues Traveler, John Butler Trio, and Umphrey’s McGee have all recorded shows here.  Maybe if you scream loud enough, you’ll make it onto your favorite artist’s next live record!

The Ferst Center for the Arts is Georgia Tech’s theater and arts center.  The 1,155 capacity auditorium opened in 1992 and promotes artist residency programs by hosting concerts, lectures, dances, theater performances, and film screenings.

With its grand opening in 2007, the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre is a 2,750 capacity venue with a modern, asymmetrical roof design.  Alice Cooper, ABBA, Melissa Etheridge, Harry Connick, Jr., Norah Jones, and Eddie Izzard have held concerts here.  The strikingly elegant interior boasts chandeliers, terraces, world-class décor, and a 10,000 square foot ballroom.

The King Plow Arts Center, a former plow factory, is a visual and performing arts center that houses work studios, artist spaces, galleries, and performance venues.  Located in Atlanta’s West Midtown neighborhood, King Plow is home to various vendors and the 7,000 square foot Terminal West performance space.  Overlooking the train tracks, the outdoor roof deck is attached to the rustic, modern venue (think iron, brick, and worn wooden floors).  Terminal West primarily hosts electronic and dub step musicians for those of you looking to dance late into the night.

The Center Stage Atlanta music complex is home to the 1,050 capacity Center Stage Theater, The Loft (650 capacity), and Vinyl (300 capacity).  These stylish venues are a music haven for locals and tourists alike.  2014 will see performances by George Thorogood and the Destroyers, Truckfighters, Green River Ordinance, Ellie Goulding, Aer, and Mogwai, among others.

A former movie theatre, the Fox Theatre in Midtown Atlanta hosts Broadway performances, film series, ballets, and concerts by popular musicians.  The 4,678 venue melds Egyptian and Islamic architectural styles—the Ladies Lounge even features impressive vanities and a replica of King Tut’s throne!  The Fox Theatre is also home to “Mighty Mo,” a four manual, custom-built pipe organ that is the second-largest theatre organ in the country.  One of the theatre’s many claims to fame was Lynyrd Skynyrd’s popular live recording of “Free Bird.”  Check out a show at the Fox – you may just be a part of some musical history in the making!

The Philips Arena opened in 1999 and has since hosted Elton John, Madonna, Demi Lovato, Aerosmith, and Taylor Swift, among many other big names in music.  Located in downtown Atlanta, Philips Arena hosts sporting events, touring entertainment, and concerts while boasting endless concession stands, merchandise areas, bathrooms, and friendly staff.

Built in 1930, the Buckhead Theatre features Spanish baroque style architecture.  It was originally built as a movie theatre but it has since become a 2,500 capacity music venue.   Mumford and Sons, Indigo Girls, Robyn, Scissor Sisters, and Iron & Wine have all played at Buckhead Theatre, making it a destination for all music lovers.

If summer concerts are your thing, the 19,000 capacity Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood was built to house popular concerts with high-quality sound.  Located at Lakewood Fairgrounds, Phish, and Linkin Park have both recorded shows here because of the excellent acoustics.  Kick off your shoes and dance barefoot to the sounds of your favorite bands!

Opened in 1992, the Georgia Dome hosts sporting events, conventions, and concerts, and is the largest indoor sporting facility in the U.S.  Home to the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, the Georgia Dome hosted basketball games for the 1996 summer Olympics and held two quarterfinal games for the 2013 Gold Cup. Professional Bull Riding, Supercross, MonsterJam, and professional wrestling enthusiasts are never disappointed, as the stadium hosts something for everyone.  Kenny Chesney, the Rolling Stones, and U2 have performed here, so music lovers will get their fix too.

The Festivals

Music Midtown is an annual festival held in Atlanta, usually drawing in crowds of over 300,000 people.  The two-day event seeks to bring a wide variety of music to the Atlanta community.  The Avett Brothers, Joan Jett, Foo Fighters, Florence & the Machine, Ludacris, Garbage, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Pearl Jam have all headlined the fall festival. 

Held in May, the Shaky Knees Festival features big names like the National, Spoon, Cage the Elephant, Modest Mouse, the Replacements, Dawes, and the Alabama Shakes as headliners.  Shaky Knees is held at Atlantic Station.

Masquerade Music Park and Fourth Ward Historic Park host ONE Musicfest featuring R&B and Soul performances from artists like Snoop Dogg (AKA Snoop Lion), Cee Lo Green, Goodie Mob, Erykah Badu, and Khujo. 

The Indie Music Festival, held every June, features the best emerging indie artists from all over the U.S. The festival is definitely worth checking out if you want to scope out some new talent before they make it big. 

Because of the major hip-hop scene in Atlanta, it only makes sense that the A3C Festival is a crowd-pleasing event celebrating its 10th year.  Held every October, the event promotes music, education, art, film, style, and much more.  Questlove, Bun B, Ghostface Killa, 2 Chainz, B.o.B, A$AP Ferg, Talib Kweli, and Jarren Benton have all performed at A3C.