With his savvy for travel and personal love for all live events, Adam Young founded Event Tickets Center and shares his experiences with like-minded readers.
When it comes to seeing live music, the venue can make all the difference in the world. While the roar of the crowd and charged atmosphere always add to the experience, a great venue can take the night from good to mind-blowing. Check out these under-the-radar venues to amp up your next concert-going experience.
The Orange Peel: Asheville, NC
This North Carolina mountain town is a bastion of music, beer and eccentricity. The Orange Peel, a venue with room for about 1,050 that sits on the South Slope of town, holds its own as a spot to catch both upcoming artists and big names wanting to play to smaller crowds. Artists like The Avett Brothers, Portugal the Man, Houndmouth, and Yonder Mountain String Band have all performed here. Music isn’t the only thing on the agenda, however — the venue has also hosted comedian Louis C.K. for a mini pop-up show. Getting to Asheville isn’t as hard as it once was. The regional airport offers direct flights from New York, Florida, and Chicago. You can also drive the Blue Ridge Highway down through the Appalachians to get there.
Toad’s Place: New Haven, CT
Don’t let the line of college kids out the door fool you — Toad’s Place is a tiny, no-nonsense venue that just happens to double as a hot spot for students from Yale and Quinnipiac. This nightclub in the heart of New Haven has its share of history, from Billy Joel recording the song “Los Angelenos” at the spot to The Rolling Stones playing a surprise hour-long concert there in 1989. These days, the 40-year-old joint plays host to the likes of bands like GWAR, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Kings of Leon, and many others.
Bluegrass Underground in Cumberland Caverns: McMinnville, TN
Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee both play host to tons of venues and concerts, but none are quite like Bluegrass Underground. The venue is hidden in the depths of a cave, and while the natural stone walls make for a more outdoorsy feel, the chandeliers hanging from the ceiling give this spot a real Old South vibe. The bluegrass artists gracing the stone stage keep the authenticity going: Helen Highwater String Band, The Ransom Notes, and many others have performed here.
Hole In The Wall: Austin, TX
Described as a “booze and music filled gem,” this venue has been a spotlight on the Austin map since 1974. Countless A-listers have passed through the doors — Spoon made a music video here, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Shakey Graves, and Andrew Bird have all performed on its stage. According to the website, which is constantly updated with information and upcoming acts, Hole in the Wall hosts six or more hours of live music per day.
123 Pleasant Street: Morgantown, WV
If you’re familiar with West Virginia University, the presence of a killer music venue shouldn’t surprise you. Formerly known as The Underground Railroad, a 1980s hot spot for music outside the status quo, the once-condemned structure at 123 Pleasant St. has been reborn into a hot spot of awesome concerts in the small college town. This little spot hosted The Red Hot Chili Peppers as they made their way back to popularity a few years ago. Acts like Donna the Buffalo, The Greens, Ben Miller Band, Papadosio, and Greensky Bluegrass have also played here.
While stadiums and festival grounds are huge and exciting, smaller, more intimate venues known and revered by locals are always worth a stop and a listen. You never know who might be gracing the stage!