We all love our iPods and cranking up that car stereo, but most people agree that nothing beats hearing a band play live. With so many great clubs and concert venues in town, Atlantans never have a hard time finding a spot to kick back, relax and enjoy some live tunes.

The Masquerade

695 North Ave.
Atlanta, GA 30308
(404) 577-8178

Housed in a creaky, towering old mill building, the Masquerade has been Atlanta’s premier hard rock and alternative music venue for more than 20 years. While tattoos and piercings are common here, this midsized club draws a diverse crowd who come to see bands that aren’t quite big enough yet to play the city’s larger venues. Since there are two different stages on different levels of the building, you’ll often find more than one band performing at the same time.

Blind Willie’s

828 N. Highland Ave.
Atlanta, GA 30306
(404) 873-2583

Blind Willie’s has been giving Atlanta the blues for nearly 25 years, and the crowds have never been happier. This club is small, dark and normally crowded — in other words, exactly the way you’d expect a top-notch blues joint to be. The food and drinks selection is small but imaginative, with menu items from blues meccas Chicago, Memphis and New Orleans taking center stage.

Star Community Bar

437 Moreland Ave.
Atlanta, GA 30307
(404) 681-9018

Put your pretensions aside when you visit the Star Community Bar; this is a weathered and somewhat worn-down neighborhood bar, but it’s also one of the best places in Atlanta to see a wide variety of live bands. The choice of music changes nightly, but expect to hear rock, folk, funk, rockabilly, alternative, punk and some bands that defy classification altogether. Local musicians love hanging out here just as much as they love playing here, and you’ll often find them sipping beers at the bar along with the patrons.

The Tabernacle

152 Luckie St.
Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 659-9022

When it comes to creative locations for music venues, the Tabernacle beats most concert halls in Atlanta hands-down. The building itself was once a church built more than 100 years ago, and musicians and concertgoers alike still find themselves in heavenly surroundings as the live tunes echo throughout the large, open space and ricochet off the stained-glass windows. The massive pipe organ hovering in the background adds a nice touch, too.

Northside Tavern

1058 Howell Mill Road NW
Atlanta, GA 30318
(404) 874-8745

The Northside Tavern first opened its doors in 1972, and the place seems to have changed very little since then. This no-frills bar happily advertises itself as a “dive,” but that’s fine with its patrons, who leave their fancy clothes and attitudes at home when they come to Northside Tavern to enjoy live music seven nights a week. Expect to hear some of the city’s finest blues here at a price that won’t leave your wallet empty.

— Ty Treadwell