Atlanta, Um, Athens Music Venue — 40 Watt Club

One week later than expected, I’m finally getting this post up….

My goal for this Venues series is to highlight Atlanta music venues. However, since we have an Indie Music Mecca only ninety minutes to our east I’m taking some artistic license and going to write about Athens’ 40 Watt Club. It is at this time that I will admit that I am an extreme latecomer to seeing live music in Athens; I suppose some of this is my bent to stay ITP and some of this is my desire, as a Florida Gator, to stay out of Bulldog Country. Why then am I choosing to write about the 40 Watt Club? Because in a one-week period I made two trips to Athens to see shows at there. On July 22nd I went to Athens to see Magnolia Electric Co. and on July 27th I returned to see M. Ward; these were the second and third shows that I’ve seen there.

Currently located in Athens’ quaint downtown the 40 Watt Club isn’t much to look at from the outside. In fact, the first time I went there to see a show I drove past it at least once before finding it. As far as music venues go I really enjoy the 40 Watt. Some of this joy may be tied to Athens’ banishing of smokers to the outdoors (now if we could only do the same with talkers) and some of it may be tied to Athens’ lower (than Atlanta) beer prices.

The 40 Watt Club is the perfect size for up-and-coming bands (and I guess for those riding the one the downside of the ‘Hill of Success’ too) in a city known for raising REM and the B-52’s, and for each of the four shows that I’ve seen there the sound system has been exemplary. The 40 Watt is essentially a large open space flanked by two bars. Like many non-renovated-movie-theater venues the floor is level, but to help patrons see the act the stage is elevated a good four feet.

As a hobby photographer the 40 Watt Club is a hit-or-miss proposition depending on the artist’s whims. For the Magnolia Electric Co show I saw people with dslrs as well as video equipment, while for the M. Ward show all photography was verboten and 40 Watt employees combed the show confronting all who failed to comply.

    What I Like

  • The sound is usually loud, but is mixed well and sounds great.
  • Smoking is not allowed inside.
  • Because the room is all general admission if you get there early enough and you can almost guarantee a good place to see the show.
  • Prices for shows are generally reasonable and if Athens is convenient for you tickets can be purchased at Schoolkids Records
    What I Dislike

  • Parking can be somewhat of a bother. I’ve been lucky to find close street parking on my trips.
  • 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 : 285 West Washington, Athens, GA
Capacity : unknown
Cameras Allowed? : Maybe, depending on the show
Smoking Allowed? : No, smoking areas are provided outdoors
All Ages? : Yes (at least to the best of my knowledge)
Ticket Source : 40 Watt’s website, or Schoolkids Records in Athens
Favorite Shows I’ve Seen Here : The Hold Steady, Magnolia Electric Co., M. Ward

What’s your opinion of the 40 Watt Club?


1 Comment so far

  1. james hervey (jeherv) on August 13th, 2009 @ 4:37 pm

    it is probably one of the silliest things i ca admit to, but in 4+ years of living here i have never made it to athens for a show.

    i really need to rectify this….

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