On the corner of Washington and Pulaski streets sits the sixth location of 40 Watt. The club’s name is courtesy of Pylon drummer Curtis Crowe, who played a 1979 party in the original spot and remarked on the single bulb lighting the space. As well as hosting early shows by acts such as Pylon, R.E.M., The B-52s and Love Tractor, 40 Watt has welcomed a who’s who of rock, including Nirvana, Wilco and Radiohead. The venue remains one of the most prominent showcases of local talent.
Almost directly behind 40 Watt on Clayton Street, The Caledonia Lounge offers a more intimate space for both local and touring acts. Although a smaller venue, it includes a patio setting that allows patrons to enjoy music from outdoors.
The West Dougherty Street concert hall may look small from outside, but it packs a punch. The venue, which began as a breeding ground for Athens’ close-knit electronic scene, has three separate stages, and has now become a popular spot for weddings and other events.
Although occasionally a host to large-scale musical performances, the Classic Center, located on North Thomas Street, serves as the city’s go-to location for theater, dance and stand-up comedy. It hosts a Broadway series as well as an annual performance of “The Nutcracker.”
For those looking to enjoy dinner during a concert, The Foundry offers both traditional standing room and a full-service dining area within view of its stage. Located in the Graduate Hotel complex on East Dougherty Street, the venue generally features more laid-back performances by singer-songwriters, jazz acts and folk groups.
Sitting on Lumpkin Street in the heart of Downtown, the Georgia Theatre first hosted music in 1978 after years as a movie house. A 2009 fire shut it down, but the owners rebuilt the legendary venue and reopened it in 2011. Serving as a likely stop for any big name artist coming through Athens, the Georgia Theatre includes a ground floor and several balconies to watch large shows, as well as a rooftop bar.
At the corner of Hull and Washington streets, the historic Morton Theatre once served as the anchor of the “hot corner,” a center of African-American business and civic life in the Athens region. Built in 1910 by entrepreneur Monroe Bowers “Pink” Morton, it is the oldest surviving black-owned and-built vaudeville theater in the country. Restored in the 1980s and 1990s with additional work completed more recently, the Morton Theatre serves as a venue for concerts, theatrical performances and special events.
Ciné, the only nonprofit, independent movie house in Athens, is the best place to catch lesser known films and documentaries. The theater includes two screens, a full bar and a pre-show lounge. In addition to current releases, Cine hosts special screenings, such as its “Bad Movie Night” series, as well as art exhibits, student film showcases and a cocktail night for its members.
This sister location of the eclectic Atlanta bar (Full name: Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room & Ping Pong Emporium) is known for out-there religious decor and a welcoming staff. And yes, you can play table tennis.
The experimental side of the Classic City is showcased at this bar on Prince Avenue, which often features performances from the town’s most boundary-pushing acts. It also hosts popular karaoke nights.
A great spot to catch up-and-coming local artists, Flicker is also home to the city’s OpenTOAD show, an open-mic comedy night for professionals and first-timers alike.
Catch that College Town Vibe
Bars with Music
Many larger bars feature live music. Take in a show at the outdoor stage of Boar’s Head Lounge, or check out a concert while you grab a drink at Hedges On Broad. Acts perform on small stages at The World Famous, Nowhere Bar and Little Kings Shuffle Club.
Drink and Games
For those looking to grab a drink before (or after) a show, Allgood Lounge offers two floors and an outdoor tiki bar, while Magnolias of Athens features free pool tables and a giant projector screen TV, making it the perfect location for catching the night’s biggest game. Remodeled Cutters Pub has excellent service, huge screens and serious drink specials. It’s a great spot to catch a game or to meet up with friends. The Max Canada has a colossal patio, air hockey, arcade games, cheap beer and dance parties, all contributing to its popularity with students and locals.
This article originally appeared in the spring 2019 Visitors Guide