Live Music in Charlotte | Charlotte’s got a lot | Charlotte NC Travel & Tourism
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Live Music in Charlotte

While big-name acts grace the stage at venues like Time Warner Cable Arena and PNC Music Pavilion, Charlotte’s thriving music scene is begging to be discovered at intimate music venues across the city. No matter where you go, you’re sure to enjoy a laid-back atmosphere, good company and great drinks while discovering Charlotte’s rocking music scene.
By Ashleigh White
Night 1: The Evening Muse 
Big sound fills a small space at this intimate venue in the heart of NoDa. The club reaches capacity at 120 standing guests (or 80 seated), offering no bad views of the stage. Generally, there’s music at least three nights a week, with basically every genre of music being offered from local up-and-coming artists. Mondays are reserved for open mic night, allowing locals to shine with two-song sets each. Supporting all things local, The Evening Muse offers many local craft beers at the bar and turns into a coffee shop called The Daily Press during the day.
Night 2: Smokey Joe's Cafe 
This rustic-feeling beach bar just off Independence Boulevard on Seventh Street is surprisingly large inside. The inside is filled with TVs, pool tables, foosball and darts, while the outside offers a fire pit and ping pong. The house band Smokin’ J’s plays on Tuesdays, which is also open mic night. Other musical acts are featured throughout the week, usually offering live music three to five nights a week. This laid-back venue that’s frequented often by locals is definitely worth visiting if you’re seeking a low-key evening with live music.
Night 3: Comet Grill
This tiny dive bar off Park Road provides close seating to live music, a large bar and a second story with standing room. The Comet Grill has a campfire feeling with the proximity to the band and other guests. If you’re looking for a cheap but fun date night with live music, the Comet Grill has no cover and offers a variety of burgers and sandwiches from the kitchen.
Night 4: Visulite Theatre 
Visulite is one of the coolest venues in Charlotte that has a huge stage front and center, with a pit in front for dancing and raised seating to make guests eye-level with the band. The lighting certainly enhances the experience and the sound can’t be beat. Larger acts as well as up-and-coming artists can be seen and heard at Visulite, which is located in a former art house movie theater. The location is perfect for grabbing a bite to eat in Elizabeth Avenue before going to a show.
Night 5: The Double Door Inn
This historic bar just off Charlottetown Avenue in Elizabeth offers music almost every night of the week. The Double Door Inn has been around since 1973 and caters to all music lovers by offering a variety of genres but specializing in blues and jazz. The inside is surprisingly spacious, with pool tables and arcade games in the back and seats, a bar and room for dancing in front of the stage. Eric Clapton even made a guest appearance at the venue in the 1980s, when he joined in on a performance with The Legendary Blues Band.
Night 6: Puckett's Farm Equipment
If you’re looking for a country vibe, like NASCAR and don’t mind rebel flags, Puckett’s is your place. Live music can be heard three nights a week and cold beer flows from three separate bars. The former farm equipment store turned bar is located in the Derita neighborhood and attracts individuals of all ages, especially those who are looking to avoid more crowded places.
Night 7: Snug Harbor  
Located in one of Charlotte’s most eclectic neighborhoods, Snug Harbor sits just off Pecan Avenue in Plaza Midwood. Live music is offered every night of the week in this pirate’s paradise, including karaoke with Bone Snugs N’ Harmony on Sunday evenings. A stage sits diagonally from the bar with plenty of room for dancing in front. This spot seems to attract a crowd of folks who are all familiar with one another and like low-key evenings.
Other Must-See Music Venues
Neighborhood Theatre located in NoDa was recently remodeled and offers balcony seating, VIP seating and plenty of standing room for up to 956 people. This historic theatre started as a community movie theater that was open from 1945 to the mid-1970s. It reopened as a performance venue in 1997 that now hosts old favorites to up-and-coming
Coyote Joe’s is a long-time favorite country bar in Charlotte. This enormous venue has brought in bands such as The Band Perry, Garth Brooks and Charlie Daniels. If you’re looking to dance and love country music, you’ll want to take a trip to Coyote Joe’s.
The Chop Shop NoDa is a live music venue that lives in an old textile plant building and has two event rooms. There’s also an outdoor patio that is perfect for hot summer nights in Charlotte. Chop Shop is standing room only except for some small tables around the bar, but there’s plenty of room for dancing.
Howl at the Moon sits in one of Charlotte’s most popular night spots: the EpiCentre. This dueling piano bar is a favorite for bachelorette and birthday parties alike but is also great for a low-key night out with friends for a few drinks.
The Fillmore at the NC Music Factory has quickly become one of the best spots to see a live concert in Charlotte. Housed in a historic textile mill with décor similar to the legendary Fillmore in San Francisco, this intimate venue features red oak hardwood floors, red painted interior and chic chandeliers throughout with tiered floors that allow for great views from any location. Stop by VBGB Beer Hall & Garden or one of the many other bars and restaurants surrounding the venue before or after the show.
This article ran in the January 2015 issue of Charlotte Happenings