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

8/20/2016

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, and become a part of something that's 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 bound to run into some people who are heavily involved in the Charleston music scene, and obviously see some great live music. We've got some of the main ones listed below. For a more complete list of music venues in Charleston, check out Extra Chill's directory of Charleston Music Venues.

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 a band from out of town or a local acts based right here 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 good chance of meeting 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 a little dive bar called 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. Pabst Blue Ribbon might as well be the official beer of the Charleston music scene, and Tin Roof sells it 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 just about 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 Purple Buffalo
The Purple Buffalo opened on the outskirts of Charleston in November of 2016, and since then it has become a hotspot for the more eclectic and underground side of Charleston's music scene. There are a lot of EDM and hip-hop shows at The Purple Buffalo, as well and some punk and hardcore events. The venue is owned by Dan Dickey, who is the same guy who owned the now-closed King Dusko. Dan is dedicated to offering a space for artists to do their thing, and The Purple Buffalo has been largely successful in that regard thus far. As a bonus, The Purple Buffalo is the site of Extra Chill's very own music festival, Extra Chill Fest.

The Commodore
The Commodore is a renovated jazz club located at the former site of A Touch of Class at 504 Meeting Street, which was closed for over 20 years before reopening in April 2016. The Commodore is a great spot to get your dance on, with several house bands taking up weekly residency and playing some of the best funk covers around almost every night of the week. The venue also hosts some local and touring bands playing original music from time-to-time, so keep an eye out for stuff like that.

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!

Charleston Music Hall
The Charleston Music Hall probably has the best acoustics in town. Everything I've ever seen there has sounded amazing. With theatre-style seating, it's definitely a classier venue that features a lot of touring artists, but they have been known to host local shows as well. They are major contributors to the Charleston music scene in both the types of shows that they put on and their overall standard of quality. You can't go wrong with a show at the Music Hall.

House Shows
There's nothing quite like attending a sweaty show in a packed-out downtown house. Charleston's house show venues are constantly changing, but if you know where to look you can always find them. The best place to find out about Charleston's DIY and house show scene is to join The House Shows of Charleston group on Facebook. It's a very active group, and local bands, promoters, and house show residents are constantly posting about upcoming shows at Charleston's finest DIY spaces.

Record Labels


Coast Records
Coast Records is not only a record label, but also a fully-equipped professional production studio run by Matt Zutell, who also happens to be the drummer in one of Charleston's most popular bands, Human Resources. Coast Records has worked with several prominent artists in the Charleston music scene, including Mark Bryan (of Hootie & The Blowfish), Drivin N Cryin, SUSTO, Heyrocco, Rare Creatures, Chris Wilcox, Youngster, Tyler Boone, and many more. I could go on about how great Coast Records is, but once you get involved in the scene here in Charleston, you'll find out for yourself rather quickly.

Real South Records
Real South Records is an up-and-coming record label in the Charleston and greater South Carolina area. Priding itself in diversity of both expression and musical styles, Real South Records is home to some of South Carolina's most promising talent, from americana outfit Mechanical River, to indie rock band Whitehall and rappers Sunny Malin and Abstract. Real South is doing some great things in regards to bringing people from different backgrounds together through a musical medium, and there is a certain standard of professionalism that founder DJ Edwards adheres to that is not often matched in a music scene.

1770 Records
While 1770 Records isn't exactly a record label, they do contribute greatly to Charleston's music scene by offering students at the College of Charleston an entryway into the scene. 1770 Records is run almost entirely by College of Charleston students, giving them hands-on industry experience and putting on live events that are all-ages and thus accessible to kids who either haven't turned 21 or haven't been able to acquire a quality fake ID. 21+ shows are a constant barrier for college students looking to get involved with the local scene, and 1770 Records helps to offset some of that with the shows that they organize.

Other Resources


Charleston Scene
The Post & Courier publishes a music and artss 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 scene has come a long way since local journalist Kalyn Oyer took over, and if you're looking to get involved in the Charleston music scene, reading her articles is certainly a good place to start.

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.

Scene SC
While Scene SC is based in Columbia, they are the longest-running blog covering the South Carolina music scene, and they are absolutely fantastic. Scene SC covers music all over South Carolina, which certainly includes Charleston bands. They also do a ton of photography and video production, so if you're looking to find out more about music in South Carolina as a whole, Scene SC is an excellent resource. They release a sampler every year featuring new music from all South Carolina artists. Check out the 2018 Scene SC Sampler here.

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.

Extra Chill
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!

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