Atlanta Music Venues — Variety Playhouse

For this week’s venue I’ll venture a few miles up Moreland Avenue from my East Atlanta neighborhood to Little 5 Points.

Without doubt my favorite music venue in L5P is the Variety Playhouse. For some reason my photostream over at Flickr doesn’t contain an image of the Variety Playhouse’s iconic marquee. However, I do have one of the inexplicably narrow door which is in the rear of the building:
Skinny door at the back of Variety Playhouse
(image used by permission)

The building which houses the Variety Playhouse started its life in 1940 as a movie theater; the theater occupied the space until the early 1960’s. For more than twenty years the building was not used for any sort of performances until it was resurrected as a performance space in the mid-1980’s. It wasn’t until the early 1990’s that Variety Playhouse gained its foothold as one of Atlanta’s better music venues. Remnants of Variety’s days as a movie / theatrical venue remain as the space contains a slanted main floor and what best can be described as “vintage movie theater” seating in the middle of the lower space as well as in the balcony. The seating is surrounded by fairly generous standing room areas including a patch of cement nearest the stage.

Because of the quality of the sound within Variety Playhouse as well as the size of the venue, it’s ideal for bands who come through Atlanta and are either too “big” to play in bars or are not “big enough” to warrant playing in the city’s largest venues such as Philips Arena or the Georgia Dome.

    What I Like

  • The sound is usually loud, but is mixed well and sounds great.
  • Smoking is not allowed inside.
  • Because of the standing-room locations if you get there early enough and you can almost guarantee a good place to see the show.
  • It has three bars and all are located away from the music area. This keeps the “bar noise” down to a minimum.
  • Shows rarely start at a late hour.
  • Prices for shows are generally reasonable, and Variety Playhouse offers an online ticket purchasing option which is far better than Ticketmaster’s.
    What I Dislike

  • Parking/Traffic can be somewhat of a bother. I don’t much care for the parking lot behind the Variety Playhouse.
  • People tend to talk a lot during shows (SHUT UP, PEOPLE. YOU ARE SUPPOSEDLY THERE TO HEAR MUSIC) and while the music is loud it can’t drown them out.

Address : 1099 Euclid Av, Atlanta, GA, 30307
Capacity1 : Seated 750, General Admission 400-1050
Cameras Allowed? : Yes
Smoking Allowed? : No, smoking areas are provided outdoors
All Ages? : Yes (at least to the best of my knowlege)
Ticket Source : Ticketmaster, Variety Playhouse’s website, or at the Variety Playhouse’s ticket booth
Favorite Shows I’ve Seen Here : Bob Mould, Built To Spill, Manchester Orchestra, New Pornographers, Alejandro Escovedo, Steven Malkmus and the Jicks, Cracker, Dead Confederate

What’s your opinion of the Variety Playhouse?

1: Wikipedia’s Variety Playhouse page

5 Comments so far

  1. silverrubicon on July 16th, 2009 @ 3:49 pm

    I was able to go backstage at the VP (and by backstage I mean "downstairs") and have a meet & greet with Bob Mould a few years back. It was after he released the album where he played all the instruments. I proceeded to tell him I thought he was better with a band, or at least a live drummer and not a drum machine.

  2. silverrubicon on July 16th, 2009 @ 3:51 pm

    My favorite feature of the Variety Playhouse…the variety playhouse ticket club. If not that, the idea that the box office is actually open a few times a week so ticket bastard fees can be avoided.

  3. anica on July 16th, 2009 @ 7:11 pm

    I love the Variety because I can actually have a seat so that I have a bit of space around me. Of course I am standing the whole time during the music generally, but people aren’t pushing on me from all directions, even at a sold out show like Sonic Youth the other night. Also, the sloped floor means I generally have no trouble seeing in spite of being 5’2". Plus when bands I am into are in town they are almost always at the Variety, so it is so cool to be able to be in their ticket club, buy the tickets without supporting Ticketmaster, and just have a place I go often enough to know my way around. P. S. Park over behind Junkman’s Daughter. Even when there’s a parking fee, we don’t mind because it’s so convenient to get in and out.

  4. bking on July 16th, 2009 @ 8:08 pm

    Best show I saw there was Iron and Wine. Also, I think I recognized it in Driving Miss Daisy.

  5. BOHO Moe (mmoebes) on July 20th, 2009 @ 9:46 am

    I love the VP…it’s close to our home; it’s intimate; it allows those of us who are under 6′ tall the ability to see the artists, and I can park for free. After the Tabernacle, it may be my favorite Atlanta venue.

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