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Best indoor concert venue

Train performing at Star 94's "Not So Silent Night" at Center Stage in December. The venue was your choice for best indoor concert venue in and around Atlanta. Photo: Hyosub Shin, hshin@ajc.com

Train performing at Star 94's "Not So Silent Night" at Center Stage in December. The venue was your choice for best indoor concert venue in and around Atlanta. Photo: Hyosub Shin, hshin@ajc.com

YOUR PICKS
1. Center Stage
You say, “You can sit or stand depending on your ’style,’ it’s small enough to feel intimate, and the seating areas and extra room around the outer part of the venue are great.”

2. Fox Theatre (tie)
3. The Tabernacle (tie)
4. Smith’s Olde Bar
5. Variety Playhouse

Janelle Monae performing at Variety Playhouse in November. The Variety is our pick for best indoor concert venue in and around Atlanta. Photo: Hyosub Shin, hshin@ajc.com

Janelle Monae performing at Variety Playhouse in November. The Variety is our pick for best indoor concert venue in and around Atlanta. Photo: Hyosub Shin, hshin@ajc.com

OUR PICKS
1. Variety Playhouse
Keeper of the Best of the Big A and Live Music Picks writer Shane Harrison says, “It isn’t so much the physical venue that makes this place special. It’s the way it lives up to its name. Windstorm Productions, the Variety’s in-house booking and promotion team, brings in a stunningly diverse array of talent. In April alone the list of performers includes Latin dance music powerhouse the Afro-Cuban All Stars, San Francisco avant-rock pioneers the Residents, country and bluegrass great Ricky Skaggs and British blues legend John Mayall. Now that’s variety.”

2. Fox Theatre
3. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
4. The Tabernacle
5. Eddie’s Attic

129 comments Add your comment

GTPHISH

March 7th, 2011
1:42 pm

Without a doubt, the Fox Theatre is the pte-eminent concert venue in town; when an act makes it to the Fox, they themselves know they have accomplished something and seem to play-up to the room;

Tabernacle & Center Stage are also awesome.

Honorable mention: Smiths Olde Bar

Kay

March 7th, 2011
2:48 pm

The Fox Theatre

Becky

March 7th, 2011
3:31 pm

The Fox Theatre…

leo

March 7th, 2011
3:48 pm

Saw Santana at Center Stage, could not hear for days, but worth it!

Andrew

March 7th, 2011
4:48 pm

Fox and Center Stage (Cube got my head ringin still.)

SteveC

March 7th, 2011
4:53 pm

Eddie’s Attic: smoke-free, great acoustics, and performer-friendly

ziza

March 7th, 2011
5:00 pm

center stage and the fox

Wow Man...

March 7th, 2011
5:02 pm

The best two are the 688 Club and the Agora Ballroom and The Great Southeastern Music Hall. Oh wait..that’s three. Can’t forget about the Fox..oops that’s five. Gotta go with the Fox …Don’t make’em like that any more. And it has a phantom, that’s cool!

Lisa

March 7th, 2011
5:02 pm

Variety Playhouse by far.

mojo

March 7th, 2011
5:07 pm

The Tabernacle!

In Town Kid

March 7th, 2011
5:12 pm

Tabernackle gets my vote for #1
Fox #2 and Smiths for a real intimate appeal gets my #3

chacha

March 7th, 2011
5:13 pm

The Tabernacle, most definitely!!!

Laurie

March 7th, 2011
5:15 pm

The Fox, no question about it.

Will Ashworth

March 7th, 2011
5:15 pm

without a doubt, 100% tabernacle

tabelz

March 7th, 2011
5:16 pm

Tabernacle!

Fox comes second

Matt in Athens

March 7th, 2011
5:16 pm

Variety Playhouse in Atlanta, 40 Watt Club if you include surrounding areas

Scott

March 7th, 2011
5:18 pm

Cobb Energy Center.

Concertgoer

March 7th, 2011
5:21 pm

Larger venues would be the Fox and the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.

Medium venues would be Variety Playhouse and the Tabernacle.

Small venues would be Smith’s Old Bar and Eddie’s Attic.

kristie

March 7th, 2011
5:25 pm

Gwinnett Arena (free parking rocks!)

mld465

March 7th, 2011
5:29 pm

8 Traxx at Andrews Upstairs in Buckhead!

WhiteRabbit

March 7th, 2011
5:33 pm

For rock shows and the like, the Variety, of course. For serious music, Spivey Hall.

Emily

March 7th, 2011
5:34 pm

Smith’s Olde Bar easy.

Deke

March 7th, 2011
5:38 pm

Variety Playhouse.

Greg

March 7th, 2011
5:38 pm

Eddie’s Attic has the best overall sound.
Smiths and Vinyl tie for my favorite small venue.
Variety Playhouse is my favorite big venue.
Center Stage is solid for a bigger venue.
Tabernacle is a horrible venue.
The Loft is the worst.

Pat

March 7th, 2011
5:41 pm

Gwinnett Arena, Cobb Energy Center, and Earl Strand Theater (Marietta)

Jason

March 7th, 2011
5:46 pm

Wild Bills…..it a little ways out but worth it. Lower tix pricing. Hot staff. Cheaper drinks

WyldBill

March 7th, 2011
5:52 pm

Smith’s Olde Bar, hands down.

kyndkylie

March 7th, 2011
5:54 pm

I’m torn! I have 3 loves in ATL: Fox Theatre, 5 SPot & Smith’s Olde Bar!

Matty Joe from Kokomo

March 7th, 2011
6:17 pm

Smith’s Olde Bar

At larger arenas like The Fox, Cobb Energy Center, Phillips Arena or even Center Stage I inevitably wind up seated directly in front of a drunk female whose shrill screeching has been used in the mountains of Afghanistan to flush the Taliban from their hiding places and into the sights of our drone assassins.

I would rather stick needles in my eyes while running naked through the streets of Tripoli shouting
“To Hell with Kadafi” rather than endure that type experience again.

From Norah Jones to N.W.A. give me Smith’s Olde Bar.

Michael

March 7th, 2011
6:40 pm

The tabernacle without a doubt

Gary B.

March 7th, 2011
7:08 pm

Center Stage and Variety PlayHouse

starry

March 7th, 2011
7:08 pm

Center Stage!!!!

RobM

March 7th, 2011
7:09 pm

Tabernacle all day…

PJ

March 7th, 2011
7:10 pm

Smaller – Eddie’s Attice, Buckhead Theater
Larger – Cobb Energy Center, Fox

Gregg

March 7th, 2011
7:25 pm

Smith’s Olde Bar and Eddie’s Attic!!

michelle s

March 7th, 2011
7:29 pm

smiths olde bar

Dawn

March 7th, 2011
7:34 pm

Smiths Olde Bar!!!

jennifer

March 7th, 2011
7:59 pm

TABERNACLE!!!

Annette

March 7th, 2011
8:10 pm

Smith’s Olde Bar

40 years & counting

March 7th, 2011
10:33 pm

Fox, Variety Playhouse and the Metroplex (RIP)

The WORST is the Civic Center. TEAR IT DOWN!!!!!!!

40 years & counting

March 7th, 2011
10:34 pm

Oh yeah, The Tabernacle is great too!

Peachtree Images

March 8th, 2011
8:49 am

THE TABERNACLE!!!!!!!!!!!! Everyone get a great view!!

Grant

March 8th, 2011
10:48 am

Smith’s Olde Bar. duh.

Lisa

March 8th, 2011
11:28 am

Love the Variety Playhouse. Not too big, not too small. Derek Trucks, Shawn Mullins, Joan Osborne. Just a few we’ve seen that rocked the place!

CG

March 8th, 2011
12:05 pm

Fox is the best but gotta love King Plow for a smaller venue

Will

March 8th, 2011
12:06 pm

The Masquerade is the best place to be. Amazing atmospherel… But as for a concert venue goes, for acoustics and whatnot, definitely The Tabernacle.

Ganners

March 8th, 2011
12:08 pm

Tabernacle and The Drunken Unicorn!

Spence

March 8th, 2011
12:08 pm

Smith’s Olde Bar is the best in the Atl. for live music because of their fantastic sound system, smoke free atmosphere (since March 1 entire bar is smoke free), rockin’ staff, free parking, central location, great drink and food specials and of course, Smith’s brings in the best national and homegrown acts!

Ceej

March 8th, 2011
12:09 pm

Ben Haad

March 8th, 2011
12:16 pm

The Fox, hands down.

trevor

March 8th, 2011
12:16 pm

THE MASQ IS WHERE ITS ATTT!!!!

Last Word

March 8th, 2011
12:18 pm

In ascending order of size: Star Bar, the EARL, Eddie’s Attic, Smith’s Olde Bar, Center Stage, Variety Playhouse, (is the Roxy still around?), the Fox & Philips Arena.
The Tabernacle’s a dump. I always feel as though my next step is going through the floor!

Prashant Kollipara

March 8th, 2011
12:19 pm

Center Stage and Cobb Energy Center

durwood

March 8th, 2011
12:24 pm

Eddie’s Attic for small Venue, The Roxy for larger Venue. The fox has very few seats where you can see very well. The sound at the Tabernacle, the Dome, the Civic Center all suck. It’s frustrating to go see great artist in poor acoustics.

bobsyouruncle

March 8th, 2011
12:26 pm

The Fox Theatre, enough said. First runner-up, the Variety Playhouse.

mike

March 8th, 2011
12:32 pm

tabernacle is my favorite

AtlantaMusicFan

March 8th, 2011
12:34 pm

The best venues in order: Tabernacle, Fox Theatre, Variety Playhouse, Center Stage and Lakewood. Yes, I said Lakewood. It may be in the worst part of town, but the sound is loud and clear. Unlike Verizon Amphitheatre, you can park at the venue.

Hillbilly Deluxe

March 8th, 2011
12:35 pm

It’s not there anymore but my vote would be for The Great Southeast Music Hall.

leah

March 8th, 2011
12:40 pm

i’ve been to every venue. while it normally relies on the sound guy and how competent he/she is, the fox theater is the best place to see a band, but this is mostly because of the fact that people cannot get rowdy.

however, variety playhouse is probably the best place to see an up and coming indie act (as long as it’s not a hippie noodle show).

Mallory

March 8th, 2011
12:42 pm

Without seats by far the Tabernacle, Variety Playhouse and Center Stage…….With seats by far the Fox Theater…..

quick

March 8th, 2011
12:48 pm

Tabernacle and The Fox

tktgrl

March 8th, 2011
12:51 pm

Tabernacle!!!!

Shaye

March 8th, 2011
12:53 pm

Center Stage, hands down. You can sit or stand depending on your ’style,’ it’s small enough to feel intimate, and the seating areas and extra room around the outer part of the venue are great. Of course, all that fabric retains smoke (there’s always someone who just has to light up) and if the sound guy sucks, there’s not much you can do about it. But overall, there’s no place I’d rather see a band perform.

Nathan

March 8th, 2011
12:54 pm

I guess the Fox is obvious. But the Variety Playhouse is my favorite.

Cynthia

March 8th, 2011
12:54 pm

Tabernacle without a doubt – 311 halloween 2000 is still the best concert I ever attended!

Thomas Magnum

March 8th, 2011
12:57 pm

The Highland Ballroom Lounge

Thomas

March 8th, 2011
12:59 pm

The Fox theatre without a doubt!!!

Gus

March 8th, 2011
1:00 pm

The Tabernacle is the best indoor venue, hands down.

HOWEVER, it WOULD be Phillips Arena IF all the good arena rock bands would stop opting to go to the outdoor venues….a good rock band belongs in the arena..just sound better.

cc03

March 8th, 2011
1:03 pm

For a larger venue, I actually like Gwinnett Arena. For a smaller venue, I went to Eddie’s Attic for the first time last summer and LOVED it there! Great location, food, drinks, staff, and sound. They also do not allow smoking (except outside) which is a plus-I hate going home smelling like an ash tray. I’m hoping to go to Center Stage sometime in the near future-I’ve heard good things.

PatMac

March 8th, 2011
1:11 pm

The Tabernacle… or the Drunken Unicorn for a smaller venue.

Breesus

March 8th, 2011
1:20 pm

I liked the Roxy when it was still open, but Centerstage and the Masquerade are my picks

Jaclyn

March 8th, 2011
1:26 pm

Tabernacle & Fox Theatre

Variety Playhouse for indie acts

Mark

March 8th, 2011
1:28 pm

the variety playhouse hands down!

Honest and Frank Discussion

March 8th, 2011
1:35 pm

This is easy:

Fox, Tabernacle, Variety, and Center Stage. Different places for different acts.

Bettie Rage

March 8th, 2011
1:35 pm

Fox Theatre is absolute best!
Eddie’s attic is nice for intimate acts.

ATL

March 8th, 2011
1:36 pm

The Fox………….

Nooch

March 8th, 2011
1:40 pm

Tabernacle by far. You get a mix of big acts, breakout artists, nostalgia, and lesser-known acts. Either way, you are getting CLOSE. It’s easy to get to, lots of bars inside the venue, and seats upstairs if you can’t stand all night. Variety Playhouse is also a favorite, sort of a Tabernacle Jr.

CMBLESSED1

March 8th, 2011
1:43 pm

The Fox Theater is the BEST venue for Indoor Concert.

downsouth

March 8th, 2011
1:44 pm

Center Stage – 1000 seats, and the views from all seats (love the stadium seating!) beat the Variety Playhouse (1200 seats) whose balcony is too far back. i do love Variety if i can score one of the front, side sections.

Tabernacle – 2600 seats, and can be one heckuva great place for a show. i’ve seen many there and always have a great time. when you could still smoke cigs in that place, it was a real smoke-a-thon of all burnables. now you gotta be careful. the second balcony side sections are great for being able to see everyhting going on below.

Fox is fine, but it’s a bit more tame in there compared to the other places, esp since all the front seats are taken by the scalpers / brokers. yes, you’ve made it when you play the Fox, but… i like a bit more grit.

Honorable Mentions:
The Clermont – rock & roll and strippers, esp the circa 1990 ones, way before the invasion of everybody else. what more do you need?

and the Metroplex, r.i.p. indeed, but how many times was it so friggin HOT in there because what’s his face wouldn’t / couldn’t turn on the exhaust fan in the roof?!?!?! loved the drinkers behind the chicken wire, and the upstairs balcony.

bwaaahahahaha!!!

March 8th, 2011
1:45 pm

The Clermont Lounge!!!

ManChild

March 8th, 2011
1:48 pm

For DJ events,
Opera is the best (great decor, friendly staff, safe parking)
Quad is the worst (looks tacky- like it’s ran by trailer park crew, bad area for parking, goofy staff)

For Metal
Masquerade (cheap drinks and mostly cheap tickets but the bathrooms are horrible)
Worst is Drunken Unicorn (crappy sound, too small stage)

For Big shows
Fox (it’s as classy as you get)
Worst is Chastain (it’s ruined many a experience for me, I will NEVER go there)

Other great spots, Starbar and The Earl, fun fun shows there and it’s a fun locals dive, not tacky but cool.

donkey200

March 8th, 2011
1:57 pm

Cobb Energy Centre

Gary

March 8th, 2011
1:58 pm

The Tabernacle is number 1, but it is nice to see a band in a small venue like Club 529. Saw the XX there with maybe 50 people on a Wednesday. One of those amazing and rare experiences.

JoeV

March 8th, 2011
2:00 pm

The Tabernacle is the best venue in Atlanta. Period.

Reid Inman

March 8th, 2011
2:05 pm

Unce Tom’s Tavern, Harlow’s and Rumors…

I have a large one

March 8th, 2011
2:11 pm

The Tabernacle! And anyone who says otherwise has yet to see a show at The Tabernacle!

MattB

March 8th, 2011
2:24 pm

#1 – The Fox
#2 – Tabernacle
#3 – Smith’s

Andy

March 8th, 2011
2:27 pm

The Drunken Unicorn!!!

Lynn

March 8th, 2011
2:30 pm

Variety Playhouse.

JKB

March 8th, 2011
2:34 pm

Tabernacle. Enough said.

joe

March 8th, 2011
2:38 pm

Since I get free tickets to Center Stage, they get my vote (but Fox is best).

Bryant

March 8th, 2011
2:57 pm

Alex Cooleys Electric Ballroom. Acid flashback!!

Concertgoer

March 8th, 2011
3:01 pm

What was that little concert venue in L5P where The Vortex now stands?

FoodFan

March 8th, 2011
3:04 pm

dnfurst

March 8th, 2011
3:08 pm

turner field

Ric

March 8th, 2011
3:09 pm

Tabernacle or Fox. For a smaller venue you can’t beat the church of rock!

dawgphish

March 8th, 2011
3:18 pm

no ? the fox

Mike

March 8th, 2011
3:26 pm

The Tabernacle is the best. Fox second as long as you are not under the balcony. If you are under the balcony you might as well have ear muffs on.

Mark Shipe

March 8th, 2011
3:47 pm

The Fox and whoever said the Agora brought back memories…

dean

March 8th, 2011
3:50 pm

The Tabernacle is HORRIBLE in the summer, it’s always 120 degrees. Bands here, as well as the Fox are overpriced.

Variety Playhouse by far is the best, good combination of price, size, layout and bands.

LS

March 8th, 2011
4:01 pm

ballsdeep

March 8th, 2011
4:02 pm

tabernacle hands down
verizon 2nd

go bravos

March 8th, 2011
4:22 pm

Any venue that is inside is fine. Outdoor concerts are a joke. I never understand why so many people tolerate outdoor “acoustics.”

SP

March 8th, 2011
6:07 pm

Smith’s Olde Bar

s brig

March 8th, 2011
7:50 pm

That F place is beautiful, but for seeing vital, hungry bands in their prime, up close, its gotta be TABERNACLE or nothing!!!

Philip Covin

March 8th, 2011
7:53 pm

The Tabernacle is the perfect vibe for any show I want to see. It’s gritty, full of character, and intimate. The Buckhead Theater (formerly The Roxy) is too sterile for me. Loved it when it was The Roxy though, pre-sterilization. Someone mentioned The Great Southeastern Music Hall, but that hasn’t been around for decades. The Fox is a beautiful venue, but it’s not too often that there’s a concert there I want to see. Smith’s Olde Bar is the best for an intimate show.

Me

March 8th, 2011
8:19 pm

I’m voting for Smith’s Olde Bar. It always has bands on their way up… smoke-free (as of 3/1/11) and KILLER sound. Easily the best sounding room in the city. Plus, it’s got The Atlanta Room. Saw Butch perform in The Atlanta Room when he was still working there!

TugboatCharlie

March 8th, 2011
8:27 pm

Smithes Olde Bar. best in any town

Amy

March 8th, 2011
8:53 pm

Smiths Olde Bar!

Jen

March 8th, 2011
9:01 pm

Chastain Park

Jen

March 8th, 2011
9:03 pm

oops…just read the rest of the description and noticed it was for indoor venues. disregard above comment!

NB

March 8th, 2011
9:09 pm

Smith’s Olde Bar – no contest.

Clare

March 8th, 2011
10:26 pm

Smith’s Olde Bar, with Eddie’s Attic a close second

rusty

March 8th, 2011
10:44 pm

alex cooleys!!!!!…the old ballroom…..for the old timers.

Russell

March 8th, 2011
11:44 pm

The Fabulous Fox Theatre!

Dirty South TV

March 9th, 2011
2:49 am

#1-The FOX Theater
#2-Five Spot
#3-Smith’s Olde Bar
#4-Eddie’s Attic
#5-Center Stage
and I actually “do” music for a living.
;-)

KC

March 9th, 2011
3:52 am

Smith’s Olde Bar

Saucey

March 9th, 2011
11:26 am

Variety Playhouse!

koko

March 9th, 2011
12:04 pm

Former atlantan

March 9th, 2011
12:26 pm

Social Vinnings….with Atlanta Boogie performing

sara

March 9th, 2011
12:48 pm

Tabernacle and Smith’s Olde Bar!

Bored

March 10th, 2011
12:59 am

There’s just something fun about seeing a show at the Variety Playhouse, disappearing into their little “smoker’s alley” between acts, being around fellow PBR drinkers, and just enjoying the music — no pretense. It’s clear that everyone there is there for the MUSIC. I love going to the Fox, but the acoustics aren’t great in the balcony sections. Center Stage is great, too — love the vibe about that building.

locksmith

March 10th, 2011
3:56 am

No contest, The Fabulous Fox!

TJ

March 10th, 2011
10:08 am

Easy – Smith’s Olde Bar.

JustJ

March 10th, 2011
10:12 am

Cobb Energy Center-not a bad seat & classy Good for modern ATL

Mary B

March 10th, 2011
11:41 am

Brendan

March 10th, 2011
11:53 pm

As a local artist, I love playing Vinyl and Eddie’s Attic is the holy grail of acoustic stages.

Kate

March 13th, 2011
1:44 pm

For classical events: Spivey Hall. No contest.

Kirbang

March 13th, 2011
7:46 pm

Smiths Old Bar