Yeah, it was just as odd to write that headline as it must be to read it. But it does indeed appear that Forbes has an article discussing the best rock venues in the country. Since it qualifies, barely, as a dimly-lit intersection of the two primary focuses of this blog, it’s worth a mention.
If you think Forbes wouldn’t know how to compile an accurate and thorough list of the best intimate clubs to catch a rock show, well, you’re right. But it could be worse. The Paradise in Boston is a great room and certainly warrants inclusion (I quite like T.T. the Bear’s in Cambridge as well). There’s a mention of a Johnny Brenda’s in Philly that I haven’t been to, but I do have fond memories of both the Tower and the TLA.
And then it mentions the EARL in Atlanta, which is fine. The EARL is a great place to see a show, but I wouldn’t put it above three or four other rooms in Atlanta, namely Smith’s or the Star Bar. In fact, Atlanta actually has more good rock clubs than rock bands. But you can’t make any reputable list of rock venues without including my hometown 40 Watt Club in Athens, GA.
It’s not even debateable. You can’t write a history of rock music from the last 25 years without devoting a chapter to the 40 Watt and the bands that have cut their teeth and honed their talents on its stage. From R.E.M. to Vic Chesnutt to the Elephant 6 collective to the Drive-By Truckers, no room has given rise to as many influential acts. It may not have been the birthplace of indie rock, but it is its foremost playground. On top of that, it’s just a great place to see a show.
Then again, I wouldn’t look to Rolling Stone for a ranking of mutual funds.