A Beginner's Guide To The Charleston Music Scene - Extra Chill


A Beginner's Guide To The Charleston Music Scene

charleston music scene

Whether you've been living in Charleston for years, or you just moved here, you've probably heard some people talking about local bands, artists, and music venues. You may be thinking about starting your own band, or maybe you just want to know where some of these people hang out, want to hear the music for yourself. Drink some beer, feel a part of something that is growing faster than ever. It's an exciting thought, but you may be wondering where to start. Here are some of the basic things we think you should know about. Welcome to the Charleston Music Scene.

Venues of Note

This won't even begin to tackle the enormous list of venues in Charleston, but there are a few places where you're pretty much bound to see some people who are heavily involved in the Charleston music scene, and obviously some great live music. We've got a few of the main ones listed below. There is also probably some writer's bias in this one, considering the following venues are some of my favorites. For a more complete list of music venues in Charleston, check out Extra Chill's Charleston Music Venue Directory.

The Royal American
We wouldn't be where we are today in terms of Charleston's music scene without The Royal American. So many local bands have gotten their start at Royal, and they continue to bring in killer acts on a weekly basis, whether it's bands from out of town, or local acts based right in Charleston, you are pretty much always guaranteed a great show at The Royal American. Aside from the music itself, a lot of local musicians hang out there when they aren't on tour or playing somewhere else, so there's a very good chance you can meet some cool people who are heavily involved in Charleston's music scene if you get out there for a show one night. Plus, they have cheap beer and great food.

Tin Roof
Another great spot to catch some of Charleston's best local bands is Tin Roof in West Ashley. Tin Roof features some of the more heavy rock & roll bands as well as the punk side of things, but also brings in some budding indie acts and touring bands quite often. There's a show at Tin Roof almost every night, and it gets really loud in there, which is something that we at Extra Chill love. As you'll find to be a staple of the Charleston music scene, Tin Roof sells PBR on the cheap.

The Pour House
If you're interested in a more jammy side of Charleston's music scene, then The Pour House is a good place to start. They have live music every night, including Charleston band The Reckoning playing Grateful Dead covers at Dead on the Deck every Wednesday. Runaway Gin is a Phish tribute band that also plays at The Pour House quite often. It's not all jam bands, but the vast majority of acts at The Pour House are groovy as hell. The place is super chill, with indoor and outdoor bars and a large viewing area for both stages. If that sounds like your thing, get on out to The Pour House on James Island.

The Commodore
The Commodore is a fairly new music venue in Charleston, but they have already claimed their place in the music scene. Since opening their doors in April, they have already attracted some of Charleston's best bands and artists to play on their stage, including some Hearts & Plugs bands, and an epic performance by Charleston's very own, Heyrocco. Even more awesome are the shows that are coming up. In September, Hearts & Plugs will have a Tuesday night residency at The Commodore. More on that later, but for now just go out to The Commodore and check out this renovated jazz club for yourself.

Music Farm
This wouldn't be an article about Charleston's Music Scene if I didn't mention the Music Farm. This 800 capacity music venue has brought in hundreds of acts over the years, and they are huge supporters of the scene in general. There is always something going on at the Music Farm, and it isn't hard to find out about it, either. Just check their concert calendar to see if they're bringing in any of your favorite artists in the near future. Remember, though, that since the Music Farm is a relatively small venue that brings in big-name artists, many of the shows sell out, so get your tickets early to reserve your spot!

Record Labels

Coast Records
Next, there's Coast Records. They are probably the second biggest record label based in Charleston, and represent bands and artists such as Human Resources, The Give & The Take, The Dunder Chiefs, Becca Leigh, and more. In addition to representing many local bands and artists, Matt Zutell, founder of Coast Records is a very skilled producer, and has helped tons of other artists record songs, including Mark Bryan and Darius Rucker of Hootie & The Blowfish, and many other local artists. Keep up with Coast Records on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and you won't miss a show.

Real South Records
Real South Records is an up-and-coming record label in the Charleston and greater South Carolina area. Bands that call Real South Records home include Whitehall, Sex Wax, and Mechanical River. They are bound by a mission of social progress and all artists on the label are committed to providing positive change through their music.

Hearts & Plugs (NOW DEFUNCT)
First of all, you need to know about Hearts & Plugs. Much of the development of the scene in this town stems directly from the growing success of bands and artists signed to the H&P Label. Charleston bands and artists such as Brave Baby, SUSTO, The High Divers, Grace Joyner, Johnny Delaware, The Lovely Few, and more are all represented by Hearts & Plugs. Founder Dan McCurry and the rest of the H&P crew do a great job of perpetuating the growth of the music scene in Charleston. Follow Hearts & Plugs on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay up-to-date on what's going on with their musicians, and find out about a ton of local shows.

Update: Hearts & Plugs fell apart.

Other Resources

Charleston Scene
The Post & Courier publishes a music section called Charleston Scene, and it's a great resource for finding out more about what's going on in the Charleston music scene. They handle a lot of interviews and show previews of the bigger artists that come through town, as well as some song and video premieres for local bands and artists.

Charleston City Paper
Since the City Paper recently released a similar article on this subject, I wanted to show them some love. They interview a lot of artists and cover a lot of the bigger events that happen in town, and without their coverage, the Charleston music scene would still be mostly underground. You can check their music section to get an overview of what's going on in Charleston's music scene. The best part about the Charleston City Paper is that it's free, so you really have no reason not to read it. Unless reading isn't your thing. In that case, I don't know how you got so far into this article.

The Fringe
The Fringe is a weekly podcast that got started not too long ago, and they are currently in their third season. Along with conducting interviews with local artists and talking about happenings in the Charleston music scene, they also feature new music from outside of Charleston. It's a great mix of local music stuff and not-so-local stuff, and the hosts have good taste, so you can find out about some really cool music from listening to/watching The Fringe Podcast.

Holy City Sinner
Holy City Sinner is probably Charleston's largest independent website, covering happenings of all kinds in the Charleston area. That being said, they do write some about the music scene in Charleston, and they are a good resource if you just want to keep up with what's going on in the Holy City.

Last, but certainly not least, you have Extra Chill. Here at Extra Chill, we dedicate ourselves to the promotion of Charleston's music scene. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay in the loop. Also, don't forget to share this article with anyone who wants to learn more about Charleston's music scene!