By Emma Korstanje
The Classic City has made a name for itself in the history of Georgia in many ways, the most obvious being that it is the home of the beloved University of Georgia. For many people, the knowledge of Athens ends somewhere between football and education related statistics.
This limited view of the city leaves out one of its main contributions. With a history dating back to the 1950s, focusing especially on the 1980s when two bands pulled the city to the forefront of the rock music scene, the Athens music scene is not one to be ignored.
With this history in mind, it is understandable to want to explore the live music scene in the New Year. By visiting any of the following five venues, from the well-known to the hidden gems, a curious listener will easily be able to discover new music and possibly even stumble across the next B-52s or R.E.M.
After finally settling on a location off of West Washington Street in 1991, the 40 Watt Club quickly made a name for itself in what could be referred to as Athens’ underground music scene. In the years since, the club has hosted a slew of local bands and emerging artists, as well as many highly popular artists such as Nirvana, Snoop Dogg, Run-DMC, Dierks Bentley and John Mayer, to name a few in a list of many. “It’s one of those hidden nooks of Athens that is such a unique wealth of life,” says Ruth Ann Traynelis, a freshman public health major from Atlanta, when asked about her experiences in the club. “I am so impressed by the wide variety of music that is shared there.” Regarding the music played, Traynelis is entirely correct as a night in the entirely general admission, standing room only venue could be spent listening to any of the multitudes of genres classifying music today. After basking in the dimly lit, mysterious atmosphere that radiates history, a music fan may just find themselves checking the venue’s website for the next upcoming event.
Located in a parking lot behind 40 Watt and off of West Clayton Street, the Caledonia Lounge is one of the most physically unique venues on this list. “It’s a shady steel shed with rowdy punk shows, and that’s about the best you can ask for in a college venue,” says Brian Chenard, a freshman English major from Cumming. Chenard’s remarks form a fairly good description as the venue has been serving a unique sound to eager listeners, due to its metallic-influenced architecture and outdoor space, since forming in 1999. While it does welcome many different genres, this particular venue focuses on emerging, alternative bands. The venue’s website keeps an up-to-date list of upcoming events and pricing for those ready to experience new music.
Lumpkin Street Station:
As one of the newer venues to join the Athens scene, Lumpkin Street Station is a great choice for the live music fans who are fairly familiar with the town and are desiring a new location to visit on Friday nights. After the owners of Ashley Street Station in Valdosta purchased the building, located just off of North Lumpkin Street and previously known as The Green Room, the space was reworked to resemble its southern Georgia predecessor. As it is technically a bar, all shows have a minimum attendance age of 21 years or older, although the main focus of the site is live music rather than bar-hopping. This particular venue advertises a wide variety of acts, ranging from rock ‘n’ roll to singer songwriter and everything in between. For a full listing of upcoming events, visit the Lumpkin Street Station Facebook page.
Flicker Theatre & Bar:
For those looking to experience more than just a night of music, the Flicker Theatre & Bar located off of West Washington Street is the place to visit. Described as a bar that “just has a really cool aesthetic,” by Bianca Shamim, a junior mass media arts major from Lilburn, this venue’s unique interior of warm tones and ever-changing art displays creates a friendly, artsy and cozy atmosphere. A visit to Flicker could be spent in either of the two halves of the building: the bar side more aimed at socialization or the theater-slash-stage side where they show local movies and more often, bands. This particular venue has also built a name for itself in other mediums, such as poetry readings, art shows, local variety acts and of course, its famed free popcorn. Due to this variety, it is helpful to check the event schedule found on the venue’s website before planning a night on the town.
As one of the biggest and most popular indoor venues in Athens, the Georgia Theatre is a regular in conversations regarding the live music scene. With a history dating back to 1889, when the building located on North Lumpkin Street was first built, the venue served many purposes ranging from the local YMCA to a furniture store. After being rebuilt in 2009 following a fire that completely destroyed the interior of the building, the venue was redecorated using a creative juxtaposition of modern accents and classic exposed brick that acts as a reminder of the building’s rich history. As a larger, more well-known venue in Athens, it has built a reputation of bringing larger acts to the Classic City. Of these, there have been a wide variety of acts such as indie band, Moon Taxi, country star, Kenny Chesney, and metal group GWAR. A full list of upcoming events as well as past performers is available on the venue’s website.
From artsy to punk-rock, small-town to Top 40 hits and everything in between, there is a venue for every listener. With just a bit of research and inclination towards adventure, finding new music to accompany the New Year can be an easy task.