Obviously we’re going to start this first article back with a list of possible places you would enjoy seeing a show. Not only do these places have style or heritage but they tend to be the better places in terms of production and sound. Now, this is my top 5 venues in the area, doesn’t mean there are not great venues all across the city and surrounding. So we will do a simple honorable mention section at the end of the list. Otherwise, enjoy the list.
Number 5. The Milestone
If any place has a rich heritage, its this first venue on our list. Hailing as the Ghetto Fortress, The Milestone is a place to see something different compared to the other venues around town. The first thing most people are going to notice driving up on Tuckaseegee Rd. to the venue is that it’s not your typical structure, it will look like a broken down two story house on the corner (I assure you it’s safe). Second, the inside has been tagged by bands graffiti and stickers on as much free space possible. It’s why this place has its heritage, from bands back in the day such as Nirvana supporting their first album Bleach. If you want a new experience, come down and grab a beer at the bar. If there was only one thing negative it would be the location. Not exactly the safest area of the city, so when you get there, park inside the fence behind the venue and nowhere else.
Number 4. Tremont Music Hall
Another venue with a long history, Tremont Music Hall located just minutes up the road from uptown Charlotte and Amos’ Southend can say they are the home of metal in the area. Most heavy acts have at least made a stop here to put on a show for their ravenous fans. I personally remember seeing Type O Negative here about a few years before the death of lead singer/bassist Peter Steele. It was a memorable show and the right venue for the band. That goes without saying however there’s good nights and bad nights. Depends on the band, depends on the promoting, whomever is working sound, and what exactly the show will be. Still, that shouldn’t hinder you from coming to this venue. With two stages, the venue is able to hold bigger events such as festivals and battle of the bands type of competitions a little bit better than some of the others. Again, a negative is the pay to park across the street, that really was something I think most could do without and wasn’t around until recently. A local show should not have to pay to park.
Number 3. The Chop Shop
A venue that has not been around for very long, celebrating just 2 years since opening its doors, The Chop Shop located down in the heart of NoDa Charlotte is becoming the place to go for local and regional acts to hone in their craft. NoDa by itself is one reason you should come here, not only do you have some of the best bars, shops, and restaurants in the area, but music is as vibrant as ever with The Evening Muse, Salavdor Deli’s outdoor stage during the summer season, and of course The Neighborhood Theatre within walking distance. When this place opened and I stepped inside I was in love with the idea of the projector screens on the left and right side of the stage. This could give bands a chance to visually stun its audience or make very cool scenes from popular film fit right with the music. They have since long dropped the screens but that doesn’t mean the venue isn’t trying to reinvent itself. They have the outdoor area where mostly acoustic acts and one-man or woman shows occur along with a relaxing atmosphere of lantern lights in the trees, lawn chairs, and a mini bar/food cart for refreshments. Still, there’s even more up their sleeves by building a larger stage outside for possible bigger acts to come with a large area for a crowd.
Number 2. The Fillmore
To me and to many others, this place is the nicest venue in the Charlotte area. Premiere acts have shown up to play here and continue to flock this place from many different walks of life in the music world. If venues such as The Milestone or Tremont are not your idea of a good time due to their appearance, then this is your idea place. With a more than stellar setup in sound, lighting, and stage design, The Fillmore continues to be the leading venue in the city. Does this necessarily make it on the number 1? I can’t say it does because there are a few things I believe are on the downside. First, the venue can be particularly picky on who plays their stage, that automatically is a losing idea. Second, it is rather expensive to drink here, even non-alcoholic can be festival prices. That is way too much to spend in a club venue vs. an amphitheater such as Verizon Wireless. Third, parking can be a little bit of a headache being it’s in the heart of the NC Music Factory which houses a lot of bars, The Comedy Zone, and nightclubs so finding a spot near The Fillmore that doesn’t require you to cross the street or walk a good distance can be disheartening. Last, there’s not a lot on the calendar which leads back to my first point of being picky. Bands or artists you may want to see can be months in advance with possible bands selling out the venue before you get a chance to get a ticket.
Number 1. Amos’ Southend
We come to number 1 pick for venue. If you’ve been to these venues you can guess this was possibly going to make the top spot. Amos’ Southend has a long history but with a lot of differences compared to the other venues with long histories. This venue learns from their mistakes time and time again. First and foremost, the large stage you see when you walk in use to not be like that, years ago the stage was in the corner and there was less floor. It took a huge overhaul of renovations to make it the size it is now. I have seen many shows here over the years with many different backgrounds. All venues have good days and bad days, but at Amos’ you are sure to find some good shows always around the corner and unlike The Fillmore, there’s at least a few shows booked every week ranging from local to national. The venue prides on being the affordable place for music and it shows. The location is great, being closer to uptown, there’s plenty to do before and after, a superb sound man (that I hope they don’t get rid of), and good equipment.
Honorable Mention. The Neighborhood Theatre
This place is a great one to see a lot of alternative acts come and perform on a large stage in the heart of NoDa. Easily could have made the list but the main thing that keeps it from the list is shows usually will be on the smaller stage which is a waste. I understand the concept of having to have a crowd to play the larger stage but over time I believe if they were to utilize this for every outing, there would be people more loyal to the venue. I haven’t personally checked out a show since the ownership has changed but it is worth seeing.