Underground Music City: Nashville Venues Only Locals Know

From pop to Motown, there's a place for every music genre in Music City. But not all venues may come up on the map. Escape the tourist traps and see live music like a local at these underground spots.

Nashville, also known as Music City, is home to the historic Ryman Auditorium and Bridgestone Arena on Broadway but what about venues you might have missed, tucked away in places you’ve never really looked? Live like a local the next time you’re in town and check out these underground venues…you may even spot the next up-and-coming artist.

For schedules of shows and events, check out the Nashville To-Go Menu and the Nashville Scene.

The End

The band Option Anxiety take the stage at The End in Nashville.

The band Option Anxiety take the stage at The End in Nashville.

The Locals Only Fest at The End is an obvious locals favorite.

Photo by: Anthony Merriweather

Anthony Merriweather

With a capacity of 200, The End is one of the smaller venues in Nashville, so the shows are more intimate. “Intimate” doesn’t mean quiet though. The End is known for hosting the most raucous bands. The venue is also one of the most diverse, so you can see a hardcore punk band one week and an acoustic singer-songwriter the next.

DrkMttr Collective

The stage is set for the next show at the DrkMttr Collective.

The stage is set for the next show at the DrkMttr Collective.

Photo by: Diana Lee Zadlo

Diana Lee Zadlo

What’s more punk than death? Drkmttr Collective has died (meaning closed) twice before their most recent reopening. Drkmttr is a volunteer-based collective that aims to build an inclusive community in the underground music/arts scene and their new home is on the outskirts of Cleveland Park in Nashville. Drkmttr is also one of the only all-ages DIY venues in the city, so bring your super cool younger sibling. Bonus: there’s a tasty BBQ joint right next door.

Grimey’s New & Preloved Music

If you like music and you like Nashville, you’ve probably heard of Grimey’s. One of their shirts reads, “Saving music since 1999” and that they do. Grimey’s is a record store that sells music of every genre imaginable and hosts regular in-store shows to promote album releases. They’ve hosted everyone from huge mainstream artists to local up-and-comers. The store is located in East Nashville, where you’ll never run out of things to do.

The Basement

The Basement is, fortunately, not actually a basement. Located in the Edgehill area of Nashville, the Basement is a local favorite. Almost every Tuesday they have a free “New Faces Night” where they feature new acts from around town. Check out their calendar, which highlights a show almost every night of the week.

Betty’s Grill

The band, The Rangos, take the colorful stage at Betty's Grill.

The band, The Rangos, take the colorful stage at Betty's Grill.

A band in front of a colorful tinsel backdrop, complete with decorative records.

Photo by: Chase Carnahan

Chase Carnahan

If you want a break from typical music venues but love music, try Betty’s Grill. The West Nashville casual restaurant has been around since the Forties and offers drinks, cheeseburgers, a jukebox and live music. This is the perfect place to end a lively night in “NashVegas” because it stays open until 3 a.m. every night of the week. Find out more details on their Facebook page.

The High Watt

An empty, well-lit open venue space complete with bar and stage

An empty, well-lit open venue space complete with bar and stage

The High Watt

Photo by: The High Watt

The High Watt

The High Watt is one of the powerful trifecta of venues in the historic Cannery building in Nashville. The High Watt is the youngest and smallest of the Cannery Ballroom and the Mercy Lounge at a capacity of 250. While bigger acts play the other stages, this venue was specifically made for emerging artists. So, look at the High Watt as the younger, hipster sibling in the Cannery Row family.

The East Room

Balloons, bright colors and a disco ball fill the East Room in Nashville.

Balloons, bright colors and a disco ball fill the East Room in Nashville.

You're sure to have a fun-filled night at the East Room in Nashville.

Photo by: The East Room

The East Room

The East Room encompasses music, arts and comedy all together under one roof. Join them for free open mic stand-up every Tuesday. Or check out their themed parties or see a local or traveling band rock the room. Whatever it is, you’re sure to have a good time at the East Room. Follow their Instagram to see everything they have to offer.

Third Man Records

Jack White of The White Stripes opened Third Man Records in 2009 and it’s been a Nashville staple ever since. You may miss this on an initial search of “things to do in Nashville” but it’s a must. The record store houses many in-store shows just like Grimey’s, so you’ll never know who you’ll get to see.

The Cobra

The Cobra is just as cool as it sounds. The music venue and bar features three stages so there’s never a moment without music. The Cobra has pinball, arcade games, pool, darts and foosball and offers a light menu of Mexican-inspired snacks.

Springwater

Springwater Supper Club & Lounge in the snow

Springwater Supper Club & Lounge in the snow

Springwater Supper Club & Lounge is the oldest dive bar in Nashville.

Photo by: Springwater Supper Club and Lounge

Springwater Supper Club and Lounge

Springwater Supper Club and Lounge is located in the historic West End district of Nashville and is the oldest dive bar in Nashville complete with live music, vintage décor, pool tables and cheap beer. Open until 3 a.m., Springwater is a great place to end your "underground" adventure.

Tempo

Tempo is an event space featuring coffee, Tex-Mex food and all types of Nashvillians. From zine showcases to live music shows, you’re sure to have a good time. Tempo was founded by a Texan percussionist, hence the name and their motto “Take your time.” Find out more about this new Nashville spot on their website.

The Five Spot

The 5 Spot argues that “Monday is the new Friday” and their weekly Motown Monday dance parties do make a good case. No matter your travel dates, check out their calendar which features a show every day of the week and two different time slots a night (6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. to 12 a.m.). So, start early or head out late and see what The 5 Spot has in store.

3rd and Lindsley

Backstage photo of a band at the 3rd and Lindsley venue in Nashville

Backstage photo of a band at the 3rd and Lindsley venue in Nashville

A band takes the stage at 3rd and Lindsley Bar & Grill.

Photo by: 3rd and Lindsley Bar & Grill

3rd and Lindsley Bar & Grill

Because of its name, 3rd and Lindsley Bar & Grill is easy to mistake for a food and drink-only venue. But this dual food and music stop features young, old, big and small music acts. 3rd and Lindsley is half a mile south of Broadway so you won’t have to travel far from the inner city to check it out.

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