Why We Closed Our Doors

As you may have read on our Welcome page, we had to close our doors at the end of last year. We never gave our patrons an explanation, and we feel we owe you at least that, so we’re using this post to sum up why we went out of business.

Truth be told, there was really no way to stay open if we were going to hold fast to our values, at least not in the city of Charlotte. In this area, it’s really hard to open and sustain a thriving entertainment venue, due to a number of factors, which we’ll cover shortly. We had a dream to beat the odds and stay open, regardless of this city’s reputation, but—alas—we could sustain ourselves no longer.

Even though we’re not up and running anymore, we still have a passion for good music, and we define “good” as that which holds fast to its own standards of originality, regardless of what everyone else says. In other words, if you stand for something and make that clear through your lyrics, melodies, chord changes and instrumentation, and you don’t allow your peers, your producer or your record company to convince you that “selling out” is the answer, then we’d say you’re a “good” artist.

We were a “good” music venue by our own standards. We held on to our beliefs and values, even when it made life harder. Unfortunately, that’s what ultimately led to our downfall, but I, for one, don’t regret a single second.

What exactly are those beliefs and values, you ask? I’ll tell you.

We believe in creating a haven for local, independent artists to thrive. We wanted to build a venue that didn’t turn away local talent. There’s so much of it here, and other venues in the area reject it, except on open mic night or nights during the week when the foot traffic is low. If you’re a local artist trying to get a decent gig in Charlotte, you can forget about it. Not gonna happen unless you have a huge following. That’s just the way the city thrives. If you don’t have enough followers, you won’t bring enough traffic to the venue, which means fewer people paying to get in and fewer people buying drinks. In turn, the venue loses money. And it’s all about the money here. We’re one of the biggest banking capitals in the nation, after all…

We believe in the appreciation of original craft. Basically, this meant that we didn’t allow the over-consumption of alcohol on our premises. We didn’t serve liquor; we only served craft beer, which is designed to be appreciated and not consumed quickly or in large quantities. And when we noticed our patrons getting a bit tipsy, we cut them off and called them a cab. Some nights, this resulted in curses that flew in every direction and ultimately landed right in our faces. But we didn’t care. Our loyal patrons were not there to get drunk and dance to cover songs. They were there to appreciate original art while enjoying a few finely crafted beverages. Which brings us to #3…

We believe in loyalty. Loyalty often requires exclusivity. We didn’t make it easy for a lot of people to get into our venue. Though it was a relatively large establishment, we kept the number of seats available to a minimum and didn’t allow for shows that were standing-room only. This is vastly different from the way most entertainment venues are run, and as you’re reading this, I’m sure you’re saying “no wonder they closed down.” Our ticket prices were higher than most establishments, though, and we marketed the hell out of every show. It was part of our strategy to help local, independent artists with small followings thrive. We weren’t sure if it would work, and to our surprise, it did seem to for a while. But long-term, it just wasn’t sustainable.

These are the primary reasons why we ended up closing our doors. Add that to the amount of space renovations that were necessary for us to even get up and running. We had to hire some Charlotte roofers to install a new roof. We also needed new flooring, new ceilings and walls to allow for better sound acoustics – and we are up to our eyeballs in debt.

But we’re still very much alive in spirit, and our passion lives on through every post we publish on this site. So we hope you’ll come back and keep reading as we continue to tell the story of music in Charlotte, North Carolina.

‘Til next time…

Ginger (a.k.a. the red-headed stepchild)

Charlotte’s Obsession With Heavy Metal

There’s so much talent in Charlotte that goes unnoticed. It’s a real shame.

We used to go to local concerts pretty often, and we saw so many great local musicians here at venues like The Evening Muse and even some small-time bars like Hef’s. Our favorite people keep moving to places like New York, Nashville and Austin TX, where the music scene is thriving and independent artists are supported. The unfortunate thing about places like that is there is so much independent art going around that you’re just another small fish in a big pond.

Which is why I hate that Charlotte musicians don’t get more support! There’s so much undiscovered talent. And the ones who do get discovered get lucky because they know someone who knows someone else in a bigger city.

Oh, but wait. There is one way to get discovered here. Become a metal head.

I got nothin’ against heavy metal, if it’s good heavy metal. Now, to be perfectly honest, I don’t really listen to it, but there’s some good grungy stuff out there that’s eclectic enough for my taste and not so screamo that I have to leave the room to hear my brain talk to itself again…

I used to be in an indie pop-rock group and we rented rehearsal space at the Playroom on Tuckaseegee Rd. God only knows why we picked that spot. I think it’s because we desperately needed somewhere to practice and record our music, and in this city it’s slim pickins’ unless you’re willing to pay a small fortune. As a garage band, we didn’t have much money to spend.

Our first week in, I wanted to leave. There we were in our practice room trying to record our cheesy pop music, and it was virtually impossible because of the metal band next door. I wouldn’t have minded it so much if their music was good. But when all you can hear are screaming vocals and the same chord changes being slammed over and over again, and all you can imagine is the long-haired dude killing 2000 brain cells a second because his head is banging so hard, it’s really difficult to not want to scream your head off too.

In short, I really just don’t get Charlotte’s obsession with heavy metal bands. The venues here will support them all day long. And cover bands too. Anything original with a good melody and substantive lyrics that you can understand and relate to seems to get the boot.

I’m not sure if it’s that metal bands and cover bands bring in a lot of listeners, and that helps pay the bills for every bar in town. Or maybe it’s just that no one likes to listen to good music. But this town has a horrible obsession with tunes that make you go deaf—and like it.

Before we had to close our doors, we welcomed a few metal bands, but they were easy on the ears. Their songs had detectable melodies and meaningful lyrics. They were small-time. I’m actually not even sure if they’re still playing together. (That’s another thing about metal bands: they tend to break up a lot).

I’d like to give metal a chance, but I’m waiting to hear some awesome tunes. Anyone reading this – can you give us a few recommendations? We’d love to feature the good apples here on garagevenue.com!

Who are some of your favorite metal bands and why? (They don’t have to be local to Charlotte, NC – just good.) Comment below with any that you’d like to see reviewed on here, and we’ll do our best to take a listen. 🙂

As always, thanks for listening to us. ‘Til next time…

5 Ways To Find Free & Cheap Concert Parking in Charlotte, NC

downtown parking

Parking in Charlotte during a concert can be hell. If you don’t arrive early enough, you can spend hours looking for a decent spot. Unless you have VIP tickets and can drive straight to the venue’s front entrance, you usually have to factor parking spot hunting into your agenda.

And you’ve gotta be careful, because a lot of places will not let you park your car in their lot. You can’t just drive up to a building with an empty lot next to the venue and park your car there all night. If you park in an unauthorized space, you’re likely to get towed. And then you’re stuck trying to figure out how you can get your vehicle back from the towing company that took it.

There are some workarounds though. Finding a free or cheap spot near a concert venue doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, it’s pretty easy with these 5 tips.

1. Go out to eat first. If you’re going to a concert in uptown Charlotte, a lot of the restaurants in the area will validate your parking ticket. Go out to eat and park in the restaurant’s parking lot or deck. Make sure you get your parking ticket validated by the hostess. When the concert is over, all you have to do is show your validated ticket to the parking attendant.

2. Park at a friend’s house near the venue and walk. If you know someone who lives near the concert venue, arrange to pregame at their place. Then you can walk to the concert and get there just in time to see the opening act.

3. Take the light rail. This works out great if the concert is somewhere in SouthEnd, near the light rail station. You can park your car there and take the light rail to the venue.

4. Take the bus. If you live near a bus stop, this means you won’t have to worry about parking at all.

5. Ride-share. Ride-sharing companies like Lyft and Uber offer affordable transportation solutions. Arrange a ride with a group of friends and split the fare between everyone. It’s not free, but it is a cheap way to get to and from a concert. And if no one’s driving, then no one has to worry about drinking.

There you have it. Five easy ways to keep your transportation costs low when going to a concert in the queen city.

The Best Indie Music Venues in Charlotte

Charlotte, North Carolina has a few good music venues for independent artists. Ever since the NoDa arts district came onto the scene, artists have seen a lot more opportunities to showcase their talents. This post highlights a few of our favorite spots in town.


1. The Evening Muse. This is a great intimate venue for small-time artists who are looking to break through the Charlotte music scene. You could pack a crowd of about 100 people, standing room only. I’ve seen a few bands play here, and it’s always an awesome experience. If you want an up close and personal experience, where you can see beads of sweat dripping from the drummer’s face, this is it.

2. Visulite Theater. Another great intimate venue, but significantly larger than The Evening Muse. A few years ago, we took a limousine to the Visulite to see a local band play and it was an awesome time.

3. The Neighborhood Theater. Once again, a NoDa favorite. What I love about the Neighborhood Theater is that the acoustics are amazing, no matter where you’re sitting. A few years ago a group of us went to see some folk artists take the stage. We started the night front and center, right near the stage, and we ended it in the back upper level area. Everything sounded phenomenal from both spots.

These are all great venues, and they all happen to be located in North Davidson. Not surprising, given the growth the area has experienced in recent years.

If you’re ever in the Charlotte area and going to a concert in NoDa, we highly recommend you start your night at one of the bars in the area. Revolution Pizza has an amazing selection of craft beers. Have a drink or two while waiting for a table to open up at Cabo Fish Taco, and then enjoy some Tavaru Tuna Tacos and jalopeno mashers before you finish the night at the music venue of your choice.

NoDa can be especially hard to navigate on the weekends, as parking is limited. If you have the budget for it, definitely rent a limo or party bus, and it’ll be much easier to get around.

Are there any venues you should stay away from? I don’t normally like to criticize, but I did have a less-than-favorable experience at the Fillmore, when going to see Lauryn Hill. Surprising, since the Fillmore in LA is so reputable. But for me, it was overpriced, and seating was limited to a VIP area that was all the way to the left of the stage – not worth paying the extra $25 just to get a chair. (It didn’t help that I was 8 months pregnant at the time, either.)

In short, if you’re going to see an independent or smaller-time artist in the Charlotte area, try to stick to the NoDa area. All of the venues are nice.