Charlotte is a city that loves a live show and prides itself on its distinctive music venues. Rock, folk, punk and indie, roots and funk all flow from the upscale and the underground venues alike. Whether you feel like listening from the bar over a microbrew or you’d rather stand at the foot of the band in a celebrated music hall, there’s no shortage of spots to hear great live music in the Queen City. Here are a few of our favorites.
Holding only about 100 people, the Evening Muse may be small, but Charlotte concertgoers know the sound is big. The owner is also the sound specialist, and he gets it right. Only original, independent acts are booked at this cozy spot, so you won’t find cover bands here. And the fans really want to listen. Original artwork on the walls adds to the homey feel. Upcoming shows include the Liz Longley Band and Nick Howard. 3227 N. Davidson St.
McGlohon Theater at Spirit Square
Named for legendary jazz pianist Loonis McGlohon, this theater is a brilliantly restored church sanctuary, complete with Byzantine dome and stained-glass windows. Its roster of performers is revealing—Pat Benatar, Aretha Franklin and Lyle Lovett are a sampling—but the coolest thing is seeing up-and-comers, such as The Civil Wars and Josh Ritter, in such an intimate space. Upcoming shows include Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield and the Robert Glasper Trio. 345 N. College St.
NC Music Factory
Once an abandoned textile mill, today’s NC Music Factory is a labor of love by father-son team Rick and Noah Lazes. They resurrected buildings, built roads and are creating a “stroll district.” You’ll find live-music lovers at the Uptown Amphitheatre and the Fillmore, young professionals enjoying craft beer at VBGB, and DJs lighting up the dance floor at Label. Upcoming shows include G Love & Special Sauce, Tesla and Blackberry Smoke. 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd.
The Neighborhood Theatre has quite a colorful past—in fact, it has been both a church and an X-rated movie theater—which is probably why it fits so well in artsy NoDa. The workers are musicians and fans who genuinely love being there. Celtic to country is here, plus local artists. Upcoming shows include Ben Frost and Dweezil Zappa. 511 E. 36th St.
Built in 1936 as a theater, the Visulite was modernized into a music hall about 60 years later. The performers are diverse, from folk to indie to singer-songwriter. But the venue’s appeal is definitely its intimate setting. Capacity is 700; fans say there really isn’t a bad seat (or place to stand), and they love the low-priced beverages. Upcoming shows include Houndmouth, The London Souls and Leftover Salmon. 1615 Elizabeth Ave.