The strengths and weaknesses of Charlotte's local music scene | CLT Blog
Off With Their Heads playing at The Milestone in 2011. Photo: Chuck Johnson.Off With Their Heads playing at The Milestone in 2011. Photo: Chuck Johnson.

The strengths and weaknesses of Charlotte’s local music scene

Posted on 4 Oct 2012 by Kysii Ingram

There’s a wide variety of live music available for the taking in Charlotte, almost any night of the week. There are performers who have played all the venues, and have built loyal fan bases that travel from show to show.

But there are only so many places to play, and only so many audiences primed for original, local music, and after burning up all the stages around town, bands expand their audience by booking neighboring areas like Rock Hill, Asheville, Greenville, Raleigh/Durham, and Greensboro.

Among the venues that are available, many are more receptive to bands that tour and play cover music. The bands are discouraged from performing their own material because the clubs want to bank on the near-likeness and possible cult fan base of more established acts.

The urban scene has it worse. Hip-hop acts can usually find a decent following in venues who run successful weekly or quarterly events. Sometimes affectionately known as “backpack rappers”, they feel their sound and style is unique, while their counterparts, “the rappers”, have yet to find a local identity, and stick to mimicking other signed acts which originate from the radio and are based out of areas like Atlanta, Florida, and New York.

This week, Charlotte welcomes the Midatlantic Music Conference, Oct 6 & 7, which has an awesome panel discussion slated for 6 PM Friday night featuring notable locals discussing the Queen City’s live music scene and all its strengths and weaknesses. On the table: venues, gig-swaps, best practices, key players, and known failures. The event will also showcase many local bands, as well as regional and local acts. Come check it out, and support local musicians!

Charlotte’s music scene has grown from what it was a decade ago, but it still has a long way to go.  It can’t compare to Chapel Hill/Carborro, RDU, or Asheville, but it’s not because of talent. It’s the attitude of the artists, the venues supporting the artists, and the fans going to see the artists. Our scene is what we make of it!


  1. Daniel 5 Oct 2012 at 10:28 PM

    It’s Ironic that your post that seems to rally around local music features a photo if a band from Minneapolis. Local bands need local promotion from local media, and it would be great to see CLTBlog step up and fill in the current wide gap of local music coverage.