With a deep-rooted music legacy like Atlanta’s, it’s no surprise the city is home to a number of impressive performance venues. Much like their city, these venues refuse to fit into a musical silo; rather, they value the acoustic experience above all else. From symphonic productions to big-band revues to intimate blues sets, Atlanta’s live-music venues know a thing or two about amplifying acoustics. Here, we celebrate the city’s most acclaimed stops for big sound.
The Fox Theatre
Without contest, The “Fabulous Fox” has the most stunning interior in Atlanta. A rich, storied past—including surviving the Great Depression, bankruptcy and Atlanta’s penchant for bulldozers—branded the Fox with extraordinary architecture, dazzling interiors and plenty of ghost stories, for good measure. Today, what was originally built in 1928 as the headquarters for Atlanta’s Shriners (and later became a movie palace) is now a National Historic Landmark and a showcase of Moorish-Egyptian architecture. The theater features an Arabian night sky with twinkling stars, under which orchestras resound ethereally as they provide live soundtracks for Broadway shows, ballet performances and concerts. Guided one-hour tours offered Monday, Thursday and Saturday.
Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
You may recognize this performing-arts venue as the Centers for Disease Control in AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” When not on TV, the hall hosts some of Atlanta’s biggest performances. Employing an artillery of both fixed and adjustable acoustical elements, the space is able to conform itself to a variety of acoustical needs. Moreover, the stage is only 160 feet from the furthest seat in the house, lending an ever-present intimacy that gives every member of the audience an exceptional sonic and visual experience. The astoundingly beautiful and modern structure became the new home for both the Atlanta Ballet and Atlanta Opera when it opened in 2008. It has since hosted an impressive variety of shows, performances and events.
In the heart of Chastain Park, this outdoor venue owes its tremendous acoustics to nature—it’s the only venue in Atlanta carved into a hillside. The natural bowl shape set into the rolling landscape and surrounded naturally by rock engulfs audiences in the sound emanating from the stage. Best yet, the venue often allows audiences to bring coolers of food, blankets and drinks for a homemade picnic.
Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
This amphitheater in the northern Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta opened with a performance by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in 2008, hinting at the group's many performances to come. While the classic amphitheater hosts a variety of shows and events during its season, it comes equipped with potent acoustics for big-band and symphonic performances, making it an epic outdoor performance space for lovers of orchestral productions.
Atlanta Symphony Hall
Atlanta has a lot to be proud of, and its Grammy Award-winning orchestra is no exception. Lead by world-renowned conductor Robert Spano, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s performances reach far beyond classical music, ranging widely in style—from Star Wars tributes to video-game scores to patriotic American revues. Acoustics are especially important when it comes to this level of sonic and instrumental diversity, which is where Atlanta Symphony Hall makes its entrance. A simple, no-frills venue, the symphony hall is located on the sprawling Woodruff Arts Center campus, which was built as a memorial in 1966. The hall received a new acoustical shell in 2013, enhancing the experience by not only providing better sound for the audience, but also for the musicians on stage.