For a city of less than 100,000 year-round residents, Asheville is truly a destination when it comes to musical talent. As a tourist destination and a well-known hub for arts and culture, musical acts who would otherwise gravitate to Greenville, Charlotte, or Knoxville often find room in their schedules to stop by one of the many music venues in Asheville, NC.
I have fond memories of all kinds of music in Asheville, particularly at venues that are no longer with me – the carrying tunes by the river at the Bywater and the dapper elegance of Isis Music Hall in West Asheville. However, I keep finding new music experiences in Asheville, a town that just keeps reinventing itself in response to all the excitement and interest that it gets from tourists.
Whether you’re a local or looking for some tunes while you visit, you are likely to be spoiled for choices in a wide variety of genres, from small about-to-get-their-big-break bands at small bar shows to thousands of people enjoying a major national act.
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Top Asheville Live Music Venues
1. Get Free Concerts Galore at Pack Square Park
If you’re just wanting to get your feet wet in the Asheville music scene, or if you want to hear some great Appalachian tunes, check out concert series like Shindig on the Green, a free outdoor concert series in Pack Square Park.
While this is one of the main formalized gatherings for music in the main square of the city, you’ll find that many weekend festivals and craft shows also feature live acts in the amphitheater area of the park.
One of my favorite twists is that the water feature Splashville, a fountain area that is also a splash pad for kids, is available to keep kids entertained during some of the live music events here, and the combination of getting to listen to music on a summer’s day and having a space for kids to laugh and tire themselves out is a great one!
Location: 80 Court Plaza, Asheville.
2. Find a Wide Variety at Wortham Center for the Performing Arts
One of the most stately and impressive spots to see a performance in town is the Wortham Center for the Performing Arts. They do have musical acts frequently, but they also feature dance, musical theater, and plays, so this isn’t a venue that will be stuck with only one type of performance. You’ll also find comedy festivals and film festivals here, where the performing arts community is fostered.
Reviewers comment on how organized and friendly the staff are and how the structure of the performing arts center makes it so that everyone’s seat is a good one. They mention good acoustics and a high-quality sound system for amplification, as well as the feeling of a cozy, intimate setting that makes you feel connected to the performers themselves.
Location: 18 Biltmore Avenue, Asheville.
3. Enjoy Big Indoor Shows at Harrah’s Cherokee Center and the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium
Some of the biggest shows and musical acts in town play Harrah’s Cherokee Center, a 7,000-person stadium-style venue. National legends have played this arena, and while nowhere near the size of major city hubs, it’s the most people you can fit in one room in Asheville, and the acts they attract are incredible. It’s very nice to have a big show that isn’t weather-dependent or likely to be a little soggy for a rain-or-shine situation.
This venue gets rave reviews from guests for things like having good food and drink options, excellent air conditioning (though you might need to layer up until everyone arrives and heats the space up!), and a nice in-between, where you can see big acts but you’re not at the large-city stadium level of size.
There are those who see it as a worse space for concerts compared to the atmosphere for sporting events and other events, so if perfection in acoustic quality is one of your top goals, you might consider a smaller venue like the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium next door.
One frequent complaint is parking, since big shows tend to max out the closest parking decks and street parking. Making a plan to get dropped off, park and walk, or arrive particularly early for a show and getting a meal downtown will smooth the process and make your experience better.
Location: 87 Haywood Street, Asheville.
4. Experience Music in the Heart of Downtown at Rabbit Rabbit
One of the best places to see live music in Asheville, Rabbit Rabbit offers a 4,000-capacity outdoor general admission venue. Despite having the largest capacity of the outdoor venues in Asheville, this one is a really great place to see a bigger national touring band or artist.
I saw Noah Kahan here at a sold-out show, and it was easy to see the band jamming out and Noah himself despite the huge crowd. It was a little drizzly outside, and something about the cool but not cold day and the overcast sky just worked well with the thoughtful music, making me see why this is a popular venue.
I was particularly impressed that I never waited in line despite going up to get drinks twice. With a few major bars and fast-moving bartenders, they seemed to just keep the flow fast.
If you opt to get to a show early, you can often get great spots up front, though you’ll be standing for a while, but if you don’t need to be right up front, you can use that early time to go visit AVL Taco, Asheville Pizza, or another food truck dishing up easy-to-eat items like walking tacos and slices of crowd-pleaser flavored pizza.
I felt like it was a space where I spent my whole time enjoying myself and the music and no time waiting or feeling crushed between people. One thing I’d like to do at some point is watch from the elevated seating area above the main covered section, an interesting add to a venue that is otherwise just a wide-open concrete space in front of a stage.
The covered area below the elevated seating area makes for a good break from sun or rain, but it’s not big enough for a sold-out crowd, so make sure you plan for outdoor venue conditions during a rain-or-shine show – a poncho or raincoat isn’t a bad thing to bring along.
Location: 75 Coxe Avenue, Asheville.
5. See Where Music History Has Been Made The Orange Peel
As one of the oldest and best-known music venues in Asheville, NC, The Orange Peel is a staple of the local music scene. Whether you’re going for a dance party, a theater performance, or a live music show, you’re participating in the core of Asheville’s personality when you go to a show here.
This venue has thousands of reviews, and one refrain is that the connection with the musicians is good in this space. It’s a nice balance between the closeness of a smaller venue show and the distance of a big stadium or outdoor show. It’s designed in a way that doesn’t create a lot of bottlenecks, even at sold-out shows, and due to being in the heart of downtown, you’ve got multiple parking options within a few blocks walk.
Different reviewers comment on prices for beer being high (and others think it’s reasonable for a venue), so you might save yourself a dollar or two if you get downtown early and grab a beer at a nearby brewery or bar before the show starts.
Location: 101 Biltmore Avenue, Asheville.
6. Enjoy the Funky Tunes and Close-Knit Community at The Grey Eagle
I spent a lot of time at contra dances at The Grey Eagle back when I was younger, and it’s just a great space – big enough to feel like a true venue but small enough to also be a bit of a neighborhood bar.
If you haven’t stopped by the taqueria for some eats, you’re missing out! The combination of great shows and a cozy feel makes you feel like you’re really part of the long-term vibes of Asheville.
Reviewers mention that this venue makes a concert feel intimate and friendly, and the acoustics are good for enjoying bands where you really want to catch every subtlety in their music. Commenters mention a pretty limited liquor selection, so be prepared to try a margarita, beer, or something from their standard shelves.
For those who get a little claustrophobic with loud music, the outdoor patio provides a nice relaxed space. A lot of people mention that you’re better off getting there early unless you’re willing to park and walk a bit.
Location: 185 Clingman Avenue, Asheville.
7. Party by the River at Salvage Station
For those of us who remember and enjoyed the right-by-the-water experience of seeing bands play at the Bywater in North Asheville (RIP to my favorite indoor/outdoor bar for many years), Salvage Station’s arrival in 2016 brought the opportunity to see bigger bands and enjoy a bigger crowd (2,500 capacity).
The outdoor/indoor nature of the Salvage Station is spacious enough to have plenty of drink options and their on-site Root Down Kitchen. The whole place’s past life as a salvage yard means that the decor is fun and funky and recycled, a playground for lovers of live music. Big bands come here, and a few fun acts make a point to visit frequently because the lively atmosphere is just so good.
People who have seen shows here comment on how the food truck options are usually top-notch, as well as the benefit of having more small bars throughout the venue rather than one or two central ones.
People comment that the acoustics are great and that even sold-out shows don’t feel unpleasantly packed. One major challenge is parking, but if you check online before going, they often have external parking and a shuttle – just budget the time you need for it.
Location: 468 Riverside Drive, Asheville.
8. Sample the Fun at Asheville Music Hall and One Stop
Opening in 2011, this mid-sized venue (360-person capacity) brings fun and funky groups and individual acts, including very well-recognized names, to an intimate crowd. As part of the same company, the next-door bar One Stop has become a beloved spot for touring and local acts.
I saw one of my favorite live music events ever there almost a decade ago, and they represent one of my favorite things about going out in Asheville. You really can find a surprising and great spontaneous night out almost anywhere you look for one in this city! While many reviewers comment on getting to see beloved bands and enjoying the distinctly Asheville vibe of this venue, even more people comment on the great wings and pizza, a top-notch late-night menu for music lovers of all kinds.
Location: 31 Patton Avenue, Asheville.
9. Try Something New at Silverados Concert Club
Around 10 minutes from Asheville, Silverados Concert Club brings great acts to the Greater Asheville area and offers a 3,000-person capacity outdoor space in which to view them.
A lot of people love this spot for its top-notch staff, which translates to a nice variety of musical acts, all sounding their best due to their technical prowess with getting the acoustics right. Still fairly new to the scene given that it opened in 2020, It’s got food, a full bar, karaoke nights, pool, darts, and so much more.
Location: 2898 US-70, Black Mountain.
10. Float on Down to The Outpost
One of the newest music venues in Asheville, NC, The Outpost, a three-acre outdoor venue that features put-ins directly into the French Broad River, a stage, a bar, and more. One of the unusual elements is that they are working on adding camping and river adventures as part of the same single property, which makes it a particularly cool spot – I once camped at a campground that hosted music festivals on-site, and it was a very neat combination.
People have commented on how nice a venue this is for having space for children to run around and for dancing, and everyone likes the river being so close. While this space is still gaining ground as a venue in town since it is so new, you’re likely to have a great time outside in the sunshine if you opt to visit for a festival or music show.
Location: 521 Amboy Road, Asheville.
Great Asheville Bars With Live Music
While nearly every bar and brewery has some live music occasionally in Asheville, there are a few that stand out for either having music quite often or quite regularly. Check their websites for their latest lineup, but if you’re up for a little adventure, just find a bar or brewery that has music tonight and roll the dice – this artsy town produces some fantastic local musicians.
Here’s a list of the top Asheville bars with live music:
Location: 1459 Merrimon Avenue, Asheville.
Location: 13 Mystery Street, Asheville.
Location: 32 Broadway Street Suite 110, Asheville.
Location: 195 Hilliard Avenue, Asheville.
Location: 268 Biltmore Avenue, Asheville.
Location: 10 Patton Avenue, Asheville.
Location: 520 Haywood Street, Asheville.
Location: 2948 US-70, Black Mountain.
Location: 131 Broadway Avenue, Black Mountain.
Location: 122 Riverside Drive, Suite D, Asheville.
Location: 496 Haywood Road, Asheville.
Location: 95 Patton Avenue, Asheville.
Location: 662 Haywood Road, Asheville.
Location: 105 Montreat Road, Black Mountain.
Location: 1045 Haywood Road, Asheville.
Location: 101 Fairview Road D, Asheville.
Location: 144 Coxe Avenue, Asheville.
Location: 1 Page Avenue, #101, Asheville.
Location: 180 Patton Avenue, Asheville.
General Tips for Visiting Live Music Venues in Asheville
- Many music venues in Asheville, NC, won’t allow large bags and backpacks at all since searching them for safety at the entrance is so cumbersome. Often venues will allow a small clutch, a wallet, or an empty water bottle, or a larger bag that is fully transparent (examples linked here). In general, having less to keep track of during a concert is a good idea. Put everything in your bags, though, since you’re likely to go through a metal detector, be wanded, or may have other screening measures.
- While a huge majority of people use their phones for electronic tickets, I recommend giving yourself a plan B. I’ll save a screenshot of the ticket in case the internet won’t let me access it right at the entrance, and I’ll often also print out a paper copy just in case and tuck it into the wallet part of my phone case. You can never be too careful after waiting in long lines!
- Bringing a kid or teen to a show? Check with the venue about the all-ages policy for the show. Rabbit Rabbit, for instance, requires prior approval for all-ages shows for guests who are under age 12.
- If you want to save a few bucks, buying and bringing your own food can be a fun experience at an outdoor concert. However, many concert venues restrict this. You’re most likely to be able to do things like this at free concerts, like Pack Square, where the venue isn’t really regulating who enters and leaves the concert.