Favorite Atlanta Venues – Past & Present

2009 will make 14 years I’ve lived in Atlanta.  I’ve been a part of the music scene, off and on, during that time and played at just about every club in town.  I’ve seen countless shows at clubs all over this city.  Today I was thinking about Atlanta’s live music clubs from days gone by and my favorite ones that still rock.

The Echo Lounge in East Atlanta, now East Atlanta Ice House, was my favorite club.  I saw so many great shows there: Death Cab For Cutie, Spoon, Dresden Dolls, Don Caballero, John Vanderslice and Ranier Maria to name a few.  Their sound system was big and loud.  Bands enjoyed playing there.  Due to some weird zoning laws the club had to close because of misfiled permits.

Another favorite club was The Point, now The Clothing Warehouse, in Little 5 Points.  I loved the intimacy of that club.  The band would have to walk right by you to get to the stage since there was no “backstage” there.  I saw many great shows there from Lush, The Ocean Blue and Ben Folds Five.

One last club I liked that bit the dust was The Cotton Club on Peachtree St., next to Jock’s and Jill’s. I didn’t care for the rectangular layout of the club but I did see some great shows there: Mojave 3, Floyd’s Funk Revival and missed seeing a sold out Mr. Bungle show. I couldn’t believe it sold out.

Clubs like The Masquerade and The Variety Playhouse never went away and still have national acts every week.  I like Variety and The Masquerade but they’re much bigger than the Echo Lounge and The Point were.

My favorite club now that has the intimate vibe that Echo and The Point did is The EARL.  The EARL is small and you can get right in the face of whoever is playing.  I recently saw Les Savy Fav there and was treated to the performance of a lifetime.  I’m glad I got to see such a great band in a small venue like The EARL.  If you’ve seen Les Savy Fav you know it’s as much performance art as it is music.  It’s an interactive show to say the least.

Right down the street from The EARL and across from The Clothing Warehouse is The Star Bar. I’ve always enjoyed seeing shows there. Star Bar leans more towards local acts so honestly I haven’t been there as much. I do like the vibe there and they have a good sound system.

What about you? What were some of your favorite clubs from the past? Which ones do you like now?

3 Comments so far

  1. jbaker232 on February 4th, 2009 @ 7:11 pm

    I second the Earl as the best music venue in Atl. The Tabernacle is a good one also, along with the Drunken Unicorn which has a VERY intimate vibe. The Fox is also good but the artist needs to really grab the audience or everyone seems to get engulfed in chitter chatter.

    My favorite venues have to be in Athens, however. The Georgia Theatre has the best acoustics of any venue I’ve been to, and the 40 Watt always has the best music. One of my new favorites is the Melting Point. It doesn’t have that grungy appeal of the other venues, but you can sit and eat a steak while watching a band, which is always nice.

  2. bking on February 4th, 2009 @ 8:26 pm

    I have many fond memories of the Point, but my favorite music venue was the 513 club on Edgewood. A total dump/hole in the wall, but I saw lots of local punk and oi! bands there.

  3. griftdrift on February 5th, 2009 @ 1:00 am

    I remember the first time I walked into the original Lenny’s – all I could think was ‘how the f*ck did this get here?’

    I saw the Lush and Ben Folds Five show at The Point. Saw many more there I don’t remember. Nothing better than getting hammered at the weird little bar upstairs then stumbling down to hear the music.

    Echo was the best pre-Earl venue in East Atlanta. Very sad it’s gone. The best show I saw there was early Drive-By Truckers. Some weird Texas threesome that sounded like ZZ Top on speed opened. Then the Truckers killed. As my friend and I started to stumble out, we heard the opening notes of "Bulldozers and Dirt", looked at each other and walked back in.

    The Earl reigns supreme now. Several years ago, once again a Truckers show, the A/C went out in the middle of summer. When I got home, I just threw my t-shirt in the garbage. It was beyond recovery.

    Star Bar. Well, I was there the first night and many since. Seen every thing from a dude playing a washboard to dudes in wrestling masks.

    And that makes me remember the Austin Ave Buffet.

    But I’ve rambled on too long. Good stuff. Lots of memories.

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