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.
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.
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 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.
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
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
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 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 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 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
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.