Music City is obviously best known for music. You can find it almost anywhere — unless you’re under 21. The only concerts seemingly available to those of us who have not yet reached our supposed maturity (note that I’m a 17-year old music lover writing this article!) are the concerts at Bridgestone that cost a lot more money than most of us have at this point in our lives. So, if you have friends or family coming into town who are under 21, or if you yourself are under 21, take advantage of these great locations that offer a unique and fun experience that you won’t find anywhere else.
I’ve rounded up the following list with the help of my friends to let you know where anyone, including us teens, can find great music whether it be a festival or actual music venue. Nashville has some of the best music in the world and you don’t have to be over 21 to enjoy it!
Nashville Music Venues For the Under 21 Crowd (and yes, cool enough if you are over 21!)
Nashville Music Events and Festivals:
Every June, Nashville becomes the center of the biggest country music festival in the world. There are free concerts at multiple locations downtown that are worth taking advantage of. There are also passes available for the nighttime concerts full of the biggest names in the business!
This September is the second annual Pilgrimage Music Festival. In Franklin at The Park at Harlinsdale, this festival has big names in country and indie music as well as smaller artists on the verge of making serious names for themselves. There are day passes and VIP passes still available. Tickets start at $69 + fees.
This annual set of concerts provided by Lightning 100 is absolutely incredible (with far too many amazing acts to list here, so do check out the lineup!). There are a few big name performers, but then a bunch of smaller artists playing these free concerts. There are food trucks, a fun atmosphere, and great music. Tickets are free, but VIP passes are available for the lounge area as well as a backstage option.
Rites of Spring is held each year in April by Vanderbilt and offers shows by incredible artists! Although more suited for kids in high school and older, it is still a great show with fun food trucks and a fun setting.
The Listening Room is located on 2nd Avenue close to the downtown scene, but a bit out of the way of the honky tonks that fill Broadway. Most tickets are $5 to $10 in genres ranging from country to indie to classic rock, and sometimes they have open mic nights for upcoming young artists. And the menu is way more than bar food and sandwiches, including a yummy brunch.
Right on Main St. in Franklin, Gray’s on Main has one of the coolest stages in the area. The stage is high, and the tables are lower, so you can look up at the artists while having a delicious meal. It really is the best of both worlds in terms of great food and music. Here’s a list of the music lined up to play at Gray’s.
Puckett’s has three locations in the Nashville area (Downtown, Franklin and Columbia) that all offer the same great food and music. Most shows are either free or under $15, and the artists who play here are incredibly talented.
Probably Nashville’s most well-known music venue besides the Ryman and the Grand Ole Opry, the Bluebird Cafe hosts many songwriters nights and small concerts … It’s hard to snag a seat and most people in line are tourists. But, for a full run down of what to expect, see StyleBlueprint’s article here. And, for a fun spinoff from the Bluebird Cafe, which is usually filled with locals, try the seasonal monthly Bluebird on the Mountain at Dyer Observatory.
Ascend Amphitheater has become a go-to place for great, headliner shows besides Bridgestone. The outdoor location makes it fun and exciting, and the lineup does just the same! With acts like Panic! At the Disco, Meghan Trainor, Chris Stapleton, 21 Pilots, and more, you’re hard-pressed to not have a good time here. These are bigger acts, so the shows are a bit more expensive, but definitely worth it.
On the corner of Broadway and 1st Avenue, ACME is another location known for its great food and live music. Downstairs in their main dining area, they host many small artists who are absolutely incredible. Also, they have their ACME: Unplugged series once a month throughout the year. This event, open to anyone for a $10 ticket, features some of the best songwriters in the business and their friends who will blow you away.
While seemingly a little further, the Woods at Fontanel is really only 20 minutes from Nashville. The home to the Carl Black Chevy Woods Amphitheater, is truly a cool location. It’s an amphitheater in the woods, with VIP boxes that are carved right out of the hillside. Here, there are big name concerts as well as smaller, festival type shows with lots of fun activities. Children under 3 go free unless the show is specified as reserved.
Station Inn in one of Nashville’s best live music venues. Stars have been known to drop in and play with whatever band is set to play that night. A little known fact is that although it is a 21 and up bar, kids under 21 are allowed with a parent or guardian. So bring all the kids and hit up this incredible location.
Third Man Records in a truly unique venue that offers concerts from indie and country artists and bands throughout the week. Their Blue Room is the only venue in the world where artists can record their performances live to acetate, which means that the live performance is recorded to vinyl.
Music Venues for 18+
Also consisting of Mercy Lounge and The High Watt, Cannery Ballroom hosts amazing concerts for the 18 and up crowd, and very rarely an all-ages concert. They are great acts in all genres with equally great ticket prices.
12th and Porter hosts shows for patrons 18 and older by bands playing rock, country, indie, and more. The concerts are relatively inexpensive, and the venue also offers delicious food such as burgers, queso and chips, and cinnamon sugar beignets.
Large Venues for all ages:
Get out there and take advantage of these venues around Nashville to experience great music with friends at family no matter their age! There is so much great music around our city, and it’s important that everyone be able to experience it.
And, for more suggestions, see our article on Nashville’s 15 Best Places to See Live Music.