There are a lot of different ways to determine what a small venue is when it comes to a concert. We would like to get into some of the nitty-gritty of what makes a venue so special. The venue capacity will range widely, but this does not mean the venue shouldn’t be considered a small venue.

Could you imagine seeing performers such as the Grateful Dead, The Who, Aretha Franklin, and Santana in venues with less than 1000 people? Now is your chance to check out some of the great venues across the nation and see that future hall of fame artist live in person. Using any of these top ticket sites will allow you to get into these locations.

We will do a one-by-one small breakdown of each venue while giving you some history, facts, and other useful things that may help you pull the trigger on your next concert. Let us know if there are some details we should add to help others get a better perspective. These are listed in no particular order.

The Wiltern – Los Angeles, CA

The Wiltern is an Art Deco staple in the Los Angeles area providing some of the best upcoming acts. Depending on how the performer requests their seating assignments, you can expect a capacity of 1200 – 4000 seats. It’s a multi-level theater giving you all kinds of views of the stage. Prices will vary based on the location of course.

One of the many great acts to come through The Wiltern included Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers in 1985. Check out all of the upcoming listings of some great bands from around the world.

Parking at The Wiltern can be accessed in the parking garage across the street or by using the valet service offered to their guests.

The Fillmore – San Francisco, CA

A great venue amongst a family of venues is The Fillmore in San Francisco. Look for our piece about all of The Fillmore venues in the future. For now, here is a look at the Moe. With a capacity of around 1300 people, there have been some amazing artists that have passed through this building. Located on Geary Boulevard and a construction start of 1912, The Fill opened up its doors to acts like The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding and so many more.

Most of the rising artists will make a stop in The Fillmore on their tour. With concerts 2-3 times a week there is always an adventure to be had. You can check the upcoming events just below.

Parking – There are parking lots all around the venue. There is nothing special about it, but if you get there early enough you could find a spot on the street for free. Good luck with that. Keep an eye out on their Twitter feed for more details.

Norva – Norfolk, VA

This is one General Admission location you want to dig in and fit with the crowd. Although it does have a few seats on the balcony level, it’s closer to the stage is where you want to be. Located in Norfolk, VA, the Norva Theater has been entertaining people since 1922 or 2000 if you look closer. We won’t get into all of the details but it was once a Movie Theater, a live theater, and an athletic club before he got reshaped into what it is today.

Some great acts that have come through this facility include Stone Temple Pilots, James Brown, Henry Rollins, Bob Dylan, The Shins, The Black Crowes, Wu-Tang Clan, and Billie Eilish.

Imagine seeing any one of these big names in this 1,450 capacity venue.

Parking – There is a parking deck near the mall. There are also other parking garages around the area for you to choose from. Try to find a meter if you can after 6 pm. More info about The Norva can be found here.

Metro – Chicago, IL

The Metro is a fantastic place to see a show anytime during the week. You can find a live concert here 4-5 times a week. Not just that, you can see some of the newest and greatest artists playing around the country today.

Although it was built in 1927, it was in 1979 when it really opened its doors to music and other acts. This 1,100 capacity main room and 400 capacity Smart Bar is a legendary location on Clark St.

Bands such as R.E.M, The Ramones, Metallica, Soul Asylum, Billy Idol, and many more made their way through The Metro. During the ’90s this was one area where grunge was crushing it with the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden. Watching a show here has so much history behind it.

Look for tickets below to all of the upcoming acts. You may be surprised at who may pass through the Metro.

Parking – We highly recommend you take local transit if you can. There are some spots on the street, but we insist on you taking the train to your event. Get direct information here.

First Avenue – Minneapolis, MN

The once bus depot is now one of the mainstays for future acts to get the attention they deserve. This 1,550 capacity building brings in all kinds of acts. Opening its doors to music in 1970, it’s the one place you must see a concert if you are in the area.

Some amazing talents that passed through included Prince, The Revolution, Husker Du, Semisonic, The Jayhawks, and many others.

You can see who is coming through below. Be sure to get your access ahead of time so you don’t miss out. You never know who may pass through these doors. Get more info here.

Parking – There are garages around the venue. Be sure to arrive early so you can get a good spot.

Stubbs –  Austin, Texas

A place to visit when in Austin is Stubbs. Not only for their great concert venue but for their food and hospitality. You are surely going to have a good time at Stubbs.

This general admission venue offers mainly outside views with minimal inside capacity. You can expect around 1,800 people during a sold-out show.

Some of the artists that have come through this venue may have you wondering how you missed these shows. From Ed Sheeran, Panic! At the Disco, Matt & Kim, Twenty One Pilots, Jimmy Eat World, Moe, and many more.

Check out their FAQ page for more details about the rules and other things you should consider.

Showbox, Seattle – WA

Located in the Pacific Northwest, the Showbox has become one of the best venues for upcoming acts on the West Coast. Founded in 1939 with some ups and downs along the way, the venue turned into a hot spot in the area. The capacity of this venue is estimated at around 1,150.

In terms of performers, the past has been amazing for The Showbox. Artists such as Pearl Jam, Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole, The Police, Public Enemy, Coldplay, Maroon 5, and so many more.

Parking – There are paid lots in the area and if you can find street parking consider that a win for the night.

You can see the most recent lineup in the listings below. Some great acts are ready to come through all of the time. Also, check out the info page here.

Tipitina’s – New Orleans, LA

This is an amazing small venue to not only see local acts but acts that will become famous one day. You can even head over to Tipitina’s during Jazz Fest to catch some wonderful performances.

Although the building was built in 1912, it wasn’t opened as a small venue until 1977. Some great acts such as Phish, The Neville Brothers, Jane’s Addiction, Mem Shannon, Galactic, and many others have passed through.

If you are in the New Orleans area and would like to check out a show, this is the place for an amazing setting. You can see some of the upcoming acts below.

Fox Theatre –  Atlanta, GA

Some big venues are considered small while other small venues are considered big. The Fox Theatre is one of those places we would like to add to our list. Opened in 1929, the Fox has a capacity of 4,665. There is way too much history to discuss when it comes to the Fox Theatre.

There have been a ton of entertainers that have come through the Fox Theatre. How about some of these names? Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Ray Charles, and more currently, the Zac Brown Band, OutKast, and many more.

Parking – This can be a bit of a pain for a smaller venue. You’ll be better off taking public transportation, but garages are available at a price. Read more about the Fox here.

9:30 Club – Washington, D.C.

The 9:30 is the definition of the right of passage for upcoming artists. It’s the one place people wish to play before they move up the ranks. It opened in 1980 and is a DC location that you must check out as a music fan. The 1200 capacity location is seeking some new space but will continue to thrive as long as they keep booking performances.

Some of the original acts to come through were more punk, hardcore type bands such as Minor Threat and Fugazi. The Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Police, Violent Femmes, R.E.M, and many others found their stardom after playing at the 9:30 Club.

You can see the upcoming acts below. Be sure to get tickets early to avoid the sellout issue. Also, get some more details here.

Toad’s Place – New Haven, Connecticut

This is one location in the Northeast that has seen great acts come through. It’s considered more of a nightclub than a venue, but that doesn’t stop Toad’s Place from bringing in the artists. It can fit around 750 people in this location which is very intimate when seeing some of the greatest bands of all time.

Some of the performers that have come through include, U2, Billy Joel, Cyndi Lauper, The Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan. Imagine seeing these people in such a small place.

Such a cool place and they offer shows several times a week. You can see a list below.

Surf Ballroom – Clear Lake, Iowa

There is a lot of history in a place like the Surf Ballroom. This is the location of “The Day Music Died”. If you are new to that expression, that is when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper played their last performance before dying in a plane crash. You can learn about that here.

The venue itself feels like it is just out of the 50s. It does have a seating capacity of 2,100 people.

Some of the great acts to come through feature REO Speedwagon, Rober Plant, Gene Simmons, Breaking Benjamin, and a lot more.

Be sure to keep this one on your radar should you be in Iowa in the future.

El Rey Theatre – Los Angeles, CA

I guess you can say it’s about time we mentioned a venue in Los Angeles. Well, the El Rey Theatre is one that needs no introduction. This 770 person capacity venue is the definition of a small but big atmosphere. Any up in coming band would love to play here.

We can go way back, but let’s talk about the turn of the century area. With the likes of Bob Dylan, Matthew Sweet, The Breeders, Vampire Weekend, Portugal. The Man, Chance the Rapper, Cage the Elephant, and Billie Eilish are just a few to mention.

If you are in the LA area, you should look to the El Rey for a night out. You can see the upcoming events below. Also, more details can be viewed here.

Ryman Auditorium – Nashville, TN

This is another one of those small but big venues that you must see a show at. The Ryman is notorious for some great performances leaving the spectators with their mouths open asking for more.

Built in 1885, with plenty of renovations and expansions, the Ryman is known as the home of the Grand Ole Opry. A very historic site that can hold 2,300 capacity.

While going through the motions of keeping this place open some great artists passed through on their way to many big things. Performers such as Patsy Cline, The Oak Ridge Boys, Neil Young, Ringo Starr, Foo Fighters, Anita Baker, and many more. Check out some more history here.

Here are some of the upcoming acts that you may want to check out when in Nashville.

Beacon Theatre – New York, NY

What was once a movie destination is now one of the many small/big venues in New York City. You can watch amazing concerts at this 2800 capacity location. This is a seated establishment so try to get those seats as close to the stage as possible.

The Beacon was built in 1929 and has had a couple of renovations to make it what it is today. Pretty much in 2009, it got its best chance at bringing in some great performances. Some of these artists include Tina Turner, Miles Davis, Tracy Chapman, Paul Simon, Norah Jones, Radiohead, Fionna Apple, and many others. This is a great place to see solo artists perform at their best. You can get other details here.

There are new events popping up all of the time. You can see the listings below.

House of Blues – Chicago, IL

Although more of a corporate brand in terms of small venues, the House of Blues brings in some great acts to their franchises. The one in Chicago is notorious for leaving its mark. This location is on the lower tier when it comes to capacity. You can see 1400 people at a sold-out event.

Being one of the newer venues on this list, you will find that many early 2000 acts passed through on their way to greatness. Performers such as Kool and the Gang, Ministry, Twenty One Pilots, Coin, and many others.

If you can take public transportation try to do so. You will be way better off than driving.

Upcoming shows are listed below.

Bowery Ballroom – New York, NY

Although this venue is low on the list, that doesn’t mean anything. This is a high-ranked venue to catch a show due to the mere fact of its size. This defines a small venue with its 575 person capacity.

This was another theatre built in 1929 but wasn’t really used for music performances until 1998.

This is the one place if you were lucky to see some amazing talent up close. Although more performers will pass through in the future, check out this list. Starting with The Killers, Amy Winehouse, Metallica, Coldplay, The Strokes, Tony Bennett, and Lady Gaga just to name a few. Learn more about the Bowery Ballroom here.

You still have a chance to see an artist up close and in person.

The Tabernacle – Atlanta, GA

We talked about the Fox Theater in Atlanta, but another site worth mentioning is The Tabernacle. It is another one of those Big/Small Venues you need to check out. Built-in 1909, it became a music hall in 1996. It definitely saw some ups and downs through the years, but it is currently bringing in some great shows.

A few performers that have come through include, Kendrick Lamar, Alice in Chains, Lana Del Rey, Bob Saget, Prince, and Bob Dylan.

You can see some of the new shows below. Also, some more history about the Tabernacle.

Webster Hall – New York, NY

This is another New Your venue offering a variety of capacities. You can see anything from 1500 or in the studio at 400. It was built in 1886 and it took a few years to get renovated. Through the years it’s paved the way for some great acts.

Musicians such as Aerosmith, Eric Clapton, U2, Guns N’ Roses, John Mayer, Sonic Youth, Linkin Park, and many others stopped in at Webster Hall. 

Check some of the new acts to come through in the months ahead. More on the Webster Hall.

Ogden Theatre – Denver, CO

The Ogden Theatre has come a long way since being built in 1919. Hosting all kinds of events from Harry Houdini to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Through the years it had its ups and downs and in 1993, it started featuring live performances. With a 1,600 person capacity, the theatre continues to bring in new concerts each week.

Some of the great shows that have come through in years past include Mazzy Star, Chemical Brothers, Korn, Sublime, Portishead, Fall Out Boy, Chris Cornell, Blake Shelton, Ellie Goulding, and Shawn Mendes. The list is huge.

Be sure to check the calendar of the upcoming events. You may be seeing one of the next big names in a small venue.

Uptown Theater – Kansas City, MO

A really chill spot in Kansas City is the Uptown Theater. This is one location that provides some great entertainment year-round. It opened its doors in 1926 and went through many different owners and transitioned to where we are today.

From table shows to general admission style performances you can always expect a good turnout at this 1,700 capacity venue.

We can start with Bob Dylan, Bob Marley and continue with the Pixies, Nelly, Snow Patrol, Ryan Adams, Steve Aoki, Ed Sheeran, and Bad Bunny that have performed at the Uptown.

Look for future shows to continue to come to the Uptown as tours pass through all of the time.

Florida Theatre – Jacksonville, FL

If you are ever in Jacksonville or if you live there, you have to go check out the Florida Theatre. Although the name isn’t really original, the location is certainly is. The Florida Theatre originally opened in 1927. It had some issues with some renovations, during its life, but in 1983 it received a must-needed fix-up. This location can have a 1,900 capacity that fills up all of the time.

Starting with Elvis Presley, who performed in 1956, there have been some stellar artists to come through. Performers like Weezer, Dave Matthews Band, George Carlin, Counting Crows, Silversun Pickups, Peter Frampton, John Legend, Brad Paisley have all come through.

The calendar is booked so check in and see who may be coming to town.

Humphrey’s Concerts by the Bay – San Diego, CA

When in San Diego you must be outside and this is the place to be. The Humphrey’s Concerts by the Bay is a great place to be entertained outside. This venue can be arranged in so many ways. From a seated venue all the way up to a random General Admission spot. This location can hold up to 1,400 seats.

Since 1982 some great artists have popped in for a visit. In this setting, think about seeing, Natalie Cole, James Brown, INXS, Chicago, Jimmy Cliff, Johnny Cash, Diana Ross, Los Lobos, The Temptations, Tears for Fears, and Jewel, just to name a few. There have been 100’s of concerts and more are on their way.

Parking – The good news is there is parking nearby. The bad news is it will cost you $25 to park.

Here are some upcoming events.

Emo’s – Austin, TX

Austin is considered one of the coolest/Hip cities in the country. With that comes the music of course. Emo’s is a place you should check out when one of your favorite bands is playing. Opened in 1992, this venue continues to impress with its general admission setting. It allows a capacity of 1,700 fans on any given night. It is also considered a South by Southwest music Venue. This gives them the leg up for great acts.

Speaking of great acts here are some of the performers that have come through over the past few decades. Artists such as The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The Toadies, Rick Astley, The Wombats, Saint Motel, and many others.

Here is your chance to see what is coming to town.

There you have it. These are 24 small venues across the nation worth checking out for so many reasons. From history and to the future you are more than likely to catch an act like no other. What makes these small venues so great is their intimacy. Yes, some are bigger in terms of small, but that is still intimate. This makes for a great music and performance experience. We hope this information has given you some insight on seeing a show in a small venue where capacity and general admission does matter. Tickets can be bought at places like SeatGeek or many other locations. If you would like us to add more venues we will do the second installment in the future. For now, enjoy your next show.