Athens, Georgia is one of the South’s best music cities, helping countless artists to make their names and launching the careers of rock bands like R.E.M., Widespread Panic, and The B-52’s. In later years, Of Montreal, Danger Mouse, Drive-By Truckers, and Corey Smith called the city home.
Looking for even more music venues? Visit Athens has a self-guided music tour of the city.
40 Watt Club
The legendary 40 Watt Club has had a few locations around Athens over the years but has been at its current spot for a while. It is named for a single lightbulb that hung in one of the spaces.
But it has been in its current space since 1991, making it the city’s longest-running venue. Among the many artists to grace the stage are Pavement, Run DMC, OK Go, Nirvana, Sonic Youth, and Salt ‘n’ Pepa.
Opened in one of 40 Watt’s previous locations, Caledonia Lounge hosts alternative and indie rock bands. They have both up-and-coming and established bands as well as themed nights. The cover charge is usually $10 or less.
Located at the Graduate Athens Hotel , The Foundry is named for the original purpose of the building, an iron mill. Live music is offered nightly, best seen from the stage level or balcony seats. They also have a full restaurant with Southern favorites.
Editor’s Note: The Foundry has since closed for good but the hotel is still operating.
The Georgia Theatre was opened by Hap Harris and Sam Smartt in 1978 in an old movie theater. Over the years, it’s had many memorable performances. The Police played during their first American tour. It closed in 1980 but reopened in 1989, signaling the golden age of the venue.
Bands like Widespread Panic, Hootie and the Blowfish, and the Dave Matthews Band performed. R.E.M. even shot the video for “Shiny Happy People” in the space. Despite a fire in 2009, it’s been restored to its former glory, hosting big-name acts of all genres.
By day Hendershot’s is a popular coffee shop with students determinedly finishing assignments on their laptops. But by night, java is switched out for something stronger. Founded in 2010 by a local musician, the stage hosts national and regional musicians and artists.