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Best music venues in the city

Q: What would you say are the best music venues in the city?

A: I've got you covered! Here are my own personal top 5.


Classic and intimate, the Basement has been a popularly cherished venue for decades and for good reason. The ambience can't be beat, with its combo of soft lighting, exposed brick walls and community vibe, walking in feels like slipping into your favorite pair of house shoes. Add to that the rich, balanced acoustics, and it's no wonder why this made my list.

Additional fun fact: Metallica actually played a secret show here for fans back in 2008. If you weren't one of the lucky 120-ish to be there that night and want to get an idea of what it might've been like, the performance was immortalized on the album "Live at Grimey's," released in 2010.


A spin-off of the OG Basement, this sister venue came along much more recently but has already carved out quite a name for itself in Nashville's upper echelon. Sporting a much larger and more impressive stage setup, lighting and sound rig, and offering substantially greater standing room, the Basement East has quickly become a popular host to a slew of high-profile acts as well as regularly hosting local bands and collaborative events galore from week to week. Regarding its expanded space, its official capacity is a whopping 575 people, which is roughly four times that of its older brother. Naturally, all of this gives TBE a vastly different vibe, but it's still plenty intimate all its own, and everything from the lighting and sound to the staff are top tier. Definitely check this one out.


The youngest venue to make my list, this one stands out as a wildly unique live venue. Part bowling alley, part pub, and part concert venue, the BB's stage area butts up against its bowling lanes and is set up with a gloriously spectacular disco feel, complete with a massive spinning mirror ball above and as crowd-pleasing a light and sound setup as any audiophile could possibly desire. Wondering where to stand or sit? Don't even sweat it. With its brilliant floor design, every spot in the live venue area is gloriously close with great visibility of the stage, whether you're on the floor or up top in the squared balcony. If you haven't seen a show here yet, make it a point to pop in here in 2024.


This one's dear to my heart. Often focusing on punk and metal acts and offering a grungier, more divey feel, this is another Nashville staple that's been around for years. Located off Elliston Place just across from the Exit/In (which would've been included in this list had the place not been hijacked and had its soul removed at the end of 2022), The End is all personality - like the older, road worn uncle with a thousand stories of his wild, rock & roll lifestyle, this place has enough character to fill ten venues of its size.


Finishing off the list is the granddaddy of them all and the only Nashville venue that's largely considered one of the greatest live music venues on Earth: the Ryman Auditorium. With a capacity of over 2,300 and its unmatched acoustics along with its reputation of having "no bad seat in the house" (though there are those accursed ones behind the columns), the original Grand Ole Opry's inclusion here is obvious. It is the king of venues as far as I'm concerned, and if you haven't had the absolutely exquisite pleasure of seeing a show here from one of its many holy pews, make it your mission to change that this year. Everyone should see at least one show here before they die, so do yourself a solid and add this to your bucket list. Make it #1.


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