Charlotte has lost a number of good music venues over the past few years, but the one Jarrod Hayslette misses the most is Tremont Music Hall. “I grew up going to Tremont, even though I’m from the Raleigh area,” said Hayslette, one the cofounders of The Oddboy Collective, a local show booking entity.
Hayslette has been booking gigs in the QC since September 2014, when he and his roommates had the most underground of underground DIY music venues in the city: They’d book touring acts at the house they were renting at the time, dubbing the place “The Odd Room.”
Although The Odd Room shuttered last year (aka everyone moved out), The Oddboy Collective has stayed in tune with Charlotte’s changing music scene. Hayslette said, despite venues closing and a lot of corporate entities moving in, there are still some under-the-radar finds cropping up that show the city has an appetite for small-stage talent. He recently booked a show at Hattie’s Tap and Tavern. “Hattie’s has never really been a show place,” he said. “But they seem very adamant about having bands who are cool and worth it play the venue.”
Where else can you find good music without racking up ticketing fees? Hayslette shared a few places — and CharlotteFive found a few others — worth checking out.
1440 S. Tryon St., Suite 101; 704.371.7079
Open-mic nights and love for old- and new-school hip-hop, R&B, and neo-soul have drawn late-night crowds to Apostrophe Lounge since 2011. Although this venue doesn’t offer a band or a DJ, drinks, hookah, and a dance floor are always a draw.
911 E. Morehead St.
House and electronic DJs take over Dilworth Neighborhood Grille’s downstairs on Friday nights. The transformation from pub to nightclub takes a lot of lasers, lights, and loud noises, but Bassment Charlotte is the ultimate underground EDM experience.
2224 Park Road; 704.371.4300
Around since ‘96, The Comet Grill is one of the few venues on this list that also serves food (it is a grill, after all). Roots, rock, and country artists play here every night of the week, except on Wednesdays when there’s an open mic.
3629 N Davidson St.; 704.910-2249
Crown Station moved from Elizabeth to NoDa in 2017, bringing its coffeehouse/pub/live music vibes along with it. Along with nightly live entertainment, you get your choice of organic fair trade coffees and teas or premium craft beers and cocktails.
2918 The Plaza; 980.938.6228
Billed as a dog-friendly dive bar, Hattie’s Tap and Tavern is also a low-key place to watch locals perform. Late-night karaoke is on Thursdays, and bands play on Fridays and Saturdays. Drinks include craft brews and signature cocktails.
2131 S. Tryon St.
Hard rock and heavy metal bands test the eardrums of every patron at Keg and Cue on Friday or Saturday nights. True to its no-nonsense exterior, the grungy dive is unbelievably dark, lit by only multicolored string lights and neon beer signs.
900 North Carolina Music Factory Blvd.; 704.716.2327
AvidXChange Music Factory’s Mexican restaurant by day, La Revolucion doubles as a Latin night club. The venue either has a house band, Chócala, playing live or a DJ spinning Latin tracks while bar-goers dance.
825 Central Ave.; 704.331.0788
In Plaza Midwood, Lunchbox Records welcomes touring acts from all genres to play its small stage. In addition to shows, the Central Avenue record shop also hosts record sales and signings, plus bring-your-own vinyl events at Petra’s.
3400 Tuckaseegee Road; 704.398.0472
A venue that’s staged bands such as R.E.M. and Nirvana isn’t really under the radar, but The Milestone Club is so off-the-beaten-path that it still makes the cut. Stop here for rock, punk, and underground shows.
933 Louise Ave.; 980.819.6184
Set up in a former Kellogg’s factory, Belmont’s indoor skate park is also one of the city’s most nontraditional music venues. Punk, pop punk, and death-metal bands all play here once or twice a month.
1919 Commonwealth Ave.; 704.332.6608
Sofa-filled Petra’s stages of a variety of local acts — country singers, folk artists, jazz musicians. The intimate Plaza Midwood venue’s events are just as diverse, with drag shows, karaoke nights, and board game gatherings, among others.
2131 Central Ave.; 980.236.8342
Near Resident Culture Brewing Company is Skylark Social Club was opened by three local punk rock musicians. The venue books rock bands and serves cheap beer—hence the signature PBR blue ribbon on the building’s edifice.
1228 Gordon St.
Again, Snug Harbor is, perhaps, not quite under the radar, but it’s still not part of the mainstream. Nautically themed, the venue’s acts have touched on hip-hop, roots, Americana, jazz, funk, soul…you get it. Events include karaoke and record-release parties.
1225 Central Ave.; 704.332.3612
The Thirsty Beav’, Charlotte’s most notorious dive—the one that refused to cede its place to Plaza Midwood’s condominium development—also regularly stages bands touting blues, honky tonk, rockabilly, and swing influences.
2902 The Plaza; 980.299.4151
You know it as a place to pick up eggs, gelato or craft beer, but did you also know they host BYODJ nights and Freaquency 360 events?
3124 Eastway Dr.; 980.299.7663
A long-time favorite among bar-goers, Tommy’s Pub moved from Plaza Midwood to its location off Eastway Drive in 2017. The popular dive bar is known for two things: its abundance of NASCAR regalia and its back-to-back lineups of alternative and punk bands.
1615 Elizabeth Ave.; 704.358.9200
Wedged between Earl’s Grocery and Viva Chicken, the Elizabeth neighborhood’s Visulite Theatre stages mostly touring indie and rock bands and tribute shows. A decidedly low-key venue, the former movie theater has a high-top seating area and dance floor.