It wouldn’t be Music City without some great music venues. Nashville offers some of the most immersive music experiences from grand arenas to humble bars and small venues. This week, we asked our staff, “What’s the best place in town for live music?”
Sarah Maninger (Editor): Ryman Auditorium
Despite the craziness of Broadway right outside its hallowed halls, the Ryman Auditorium deserves every ounce of adoration. My first concert here was Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors this summer and, whatever “the acoustics” are, were great. The venue amplified Holcomb’s rockstar-caliber stage presence and carried the voices of those singing along in ways only the Ryman can. ‘The mother church' comes out of nowhere and is often hidden by the bustling honky-tonks and claustrophobic-looking party busses, but it is worth every bit of the chaos. So don’t be shy, the best concert of your life is probably waiting for you at the Ryman.
David Pang (Managing Editor): Exit/In
My favorite music venue in Nashville is Exit/In. The first show I saw in Music City was in this venue, so it holds a special place in my heart. It’s a smaller space, but that makes it more personable. Hearing that it might close breaks my heart, but that just means you have to go while you still can. The walls feature portraits of some of the renowned artists who once performed on the venue’s stage. Good luck getting a seat because they’re basically non-existent, but who sits at a concert anyway? If you get to a show late, don’t fret. Even in the back, you feel close to the artists on stage. This is a great spot to catch some rising artists in town or that small country act you’ve been dying to see. Whether for a night out or for a concert, Exit/In will always be one of my favorite venues for live music.
Chandler Maynard (VNN Executive Producer): Skydeck
I think one of my favorite music venues has to be Skydeck at Assembly Food Hall. Although there are other venues that come close behind, I think Skydeck offers an experience none of the rest do. Not only do they have incredible artists who stop by, but right below is a huge assortment of food at the Assembly Food Hall. I enjoy this venue mostly because of the range of EDM artists that stop at this spot, and if you know anything about me, you know I love EDM. If you want to jam while overlooking Broadway and Nashville’s incredible skyline, then this is the venue for you.
Molly Suess (VNN Co-Producer): Basement East
My favorite Nashville music venue is The Basement East. I went one time to see Sasha Alex Sloan and it was a super intimate chill experience. I was right by the stage but still had plenty of personal space, so I was really able to enjoy the show!
AJ Wuest (Sports Editor) Bridgestone Arena
My favorite concert venue in Nashville is Bridgestone Arena simply because the memories I have in that building are forever cherished. In fact, I recently went on Sunday night with my girlfriend to see Ben Platt and got to hear him give a rare, live performance of “Waving through a Window” to honor the closing of Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway. I’ll never forget, however, seeing one of my favorite artists of all time back in July. Long live Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers!
Lillie Burke (Social Media Editor) Ascend Amphitheater
In the grand scheme of my Nashville career, I have been to very few shows — only two real ones, to be exact. But in my time alive, I’ve (surprisingly) been to more than two concerts, and thus, I can easily say that Ascend Amphitheater is perhaps my favorite venue I have ever been to. I saw Rex Orange County a few months ago, and the open-air, massive stage and expansive lawn made the entire experience unbelievable. Whether you’re sitting on the lawn with blankets or front and center of the stage, the views are great, and you are guaranteed to have severe post-concert depression in the best way.
Isaac Wetzel (Photo Editor): The Birdcage
The Birdcage has to be the most iconic and well-known performance spot at Belmont University. Featuring many up-and-coming student artists, the venue serves as a central hub for people to meet, jam and network on-campus. The Birdcage hosts a wide array of genres at one wickedly overbearing volume, and you can almost always find a show. From almost-out-of-style to Harry Styles, the Birdcage will host something you can jam to on your way to class. Personally, my all-time favorite band to perform was Keaton and The Strikes. They rock.
Lilly Owens (Senior Arts Writer): Basement East
It’s simply so hard to pick one music venue in all of Nashville, but my favorite has to be the Basement East. I’ve seen some of my all-time favorite artists perform there, found some new favorites and the atmosphere and energy that the space holds are unmatched in my opinion. It’s small enough that it feels like an intimate concert setting but not too small to where it feels like you’re being squished and thrown around like a rag doll while jumping and singing. Plus, tickets to shows are normally inexpensive depending on who’s playing, so you can snag a spot and see an artist you’ve never seen before and explore your music taste. An added bonus: East Nashville is just super interesting and hipster and cool to explore before and after shows.
Braden Simmons (Senior News Writer): The Curb Café
As an avid music connoisseur, I can safely say that Curb Café is one of the best places to listen to a Belmont artist perform live. It is also simply a must for any Belmont student to go and try a world-renowned Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich while listening to another cover band for a complete college experience. With windows across the side wall the lighting is simply superb and only adds to the atmosphere. The Curb Café simply has a vibe that is unmatched by any other local venue.