A guide to the best concert halls in Charlottesville

A preview of acts to watch out for


The John Paul Jones Arena is University students' go-to destination for the biggest musical acts.

Christina Anton | Cavalier Daily

The experience of a concertgoer in Charlottesville is entirely contingent upon three things — location, location, location. From large-scale arenas to cozy concert halls, this city has a venue for every listener.

The Southern

The Southern Café and Music Hall is a perfect blend of club-kid culture and small-town coziness. Offering performances ranging from drag shows to local Charlottesville crooners, the venue’s exposed rafters and wood cabin interior design provide a blank canvas, a rustic background that is easily transformed by the individuality of each artist that performs there. The Music Hall is large but not too large, still emitting a relaxed, intimate vibe that gives Southern comfort to even the wildest of crowds.

Acts to watch out for:

Joseph, with Kelsey Kopecky — Wednesday, Sept. 12

River Whyless — Thursday, Sept. 20

Chris Smither — Thursday, Oct. 11

The Jefferson

Located at the heart of Charlottesville’s historic Downtown Mall, The Jefferson Theater blends modern and contemporary performances with old Hollywood drama. Its vaulted ceilings, red velvet curtain, and elevated wood floor provide intimacy with a heavy dollop of glamour, offering crowd pleasing acts — take recent performances by Cigarettes After Sex, Yo La Tengo and Buckethead, to name a few — without the stuffy feel of an opera house. The vibe is fun and welcoming, and the venue’s diverse range of acts offers something for everyone.

Acts to watch out for:
Neko Case, with Thao (of the Get Down Stay Down) — Saturday, Sept. 15

Father John Misty, with King Tuff — Tuesday, Sept. 25

I’m With Her, with the Brother Brothers — Thursday, Nov. 15

Sprint Pavilion

Sprint Pavilion is a beautiful outdoor setting that offers well-known national bands and artists. Lawn seating leaves ample room for walking around and picnicking, giving the feel of a music festival amidst the metropolitan backdrop of downtown Charlottesville. Aside from its national focus, Sprint Pavilion hosts its popular Fridays After Five events every Friday — this year the series runs from April 13 to Sept. 14. This is a free concert series that raises money through volunteer-run concession stands to benefit local nonprofit organizations. The series this summer features a variety of local artists, providing a refreshing and philanthropic break from the national names usually spearheading Sprint Pavilion’s roster.

Acts to watch out for:

Brandi Carlile, with Darlingside — Friday, Sept. 28

Turnpike Troubadours — Friday, Oct. 5

Death Cab for Cutie, with Charly Bliss — Thursday, Oct. 18

John Paul Jones Arena

Usually home to the beloved University sports teams, John Paul Jones Arena occasionally transforms into a massive concert venue. Seating almost 15,000 people and located on Grounds, John Paul Jones is by far the least intimate concert setting in Charlottesville, due simply to its size and stature. However, what is lost in intimacy is made up for by the big name artists that bring their impressive performances to the University — Jimmy Buffett and P!nk recently performed, and upcoming shows include country stars Thomas Rhett and Keith Urban. The large space is easily manipulated and allows for jaw-dropping performances — including but not limited to P!nk’s recent display of acrobatics. John Paul Jones is a dramatic venue for dramatic performances, athletic and otherwise.

Acts to watch out for:

Keith Urban, with Kelsea Ballerini — Sunday, Oct. 28

Chris Stapleton, with Marty Stuart and Brent Cobb — Saturday, Nov. 3

Panic! at the Disco, with Two Feet — Wednesday, Jan. 23

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