I CAME TO Savannah for college in 2006. That same year, an ordinance was passed banning people under 21 from entering live music venues and clubs.
Arriving with a suitcase full of band shirts and an entire external hard drive of Neutral Milk Hotel bootlegs just to find that I couldn’t see the majority of my new home’s live music was heartbreaking—especially when, in my hometown, the door guy would just slap a wristband on my arm and let me on in.
The ordinance—which basically says that people under 21 can’t enter an establishment that exclusively serves alcohol—is still in place, but there’s good news.
Currently, it’s up for revision and, if City Council votes in favor, folks aged 18-20 will be allowed into venues during shows, given the venue chooses to apply for an “underage permit.”
Luckily for undergrad me, I found The Sentient Bean, which booked all the indie-folk my twee heart could desire, and continues to do so to this day. I stumbled on the magic of house shows, from sweaty metal shows to quiet solo performances in crowded apartments.
We’re tremendously lucky that Savannah currently has a thriving DIY scene. Whatever you’re looking for—electronica, goth-pop, hardcore, hip-hop, you name it—it’s happening most days of the week. Be savvy with social media and keep an ear out for upcoming shows.
Even better? Take advantage of that surge of just-got-to-college energy. The first weeks away from home are one of the few times in your life where you have a legit reason to stroll up to someone you don’t know, introduce yourself, and start a conversation.
And, holler at my awkward folks: you’re going to get a crazy, weird high from all this successful social interaction, you social butterfly, you! Take that energy beyond the dorm and get involved in your community.
See someone at the coffee shop wearing your favorite band’s shirt? Talk to them! Clearly, they have excellent taste, and they may know of some shows you’d be into.
To help you get plugged in, we’ve rounded up a sampling of some of the best local organizations, labels, collectives, and festivals that offer music for folks under 21. Give them a follow, and enter the wild world of Savannah’s thriving music scene.
See you at the show!
Art Rise Savannah | @artrisesav
Art Rise puts on First Friday Art March, a gallery hop and showcase of local creators and their work. Art March rules, is a great way to meet new people, and ends with a free, all-ages outdoor live music show, typically of the indie/rock variety.
A-Town Get Down Festival | @atownfest
An annual day-long festival in memory of SCAD student Andrew Townsend, A-Town Get Down brings in a variety of Americana, funk, soul, jam, bluegrass, singer-songwriter, and rock acts every year for an all-ages celebration. Typically held in February, the last few have hosted the likes of The Blind Boys of Alabama, Bloodkin, Loudon Wainwright III and more.
Coastal Rock Productions | @coastalrockSAV
Coastal Rock Productions exclusively books all-ages shows throughout Savannah and nearby Statesboro. You’ll find varying shades of rock, from metalcore to emo to indie, on their bills—booker Timothy Walls keeps the Coastal Rock Twitter, Facebook page, and website, coastalrocksavannah.com, updated with events.
DAD JOKE | @dad_joke_sav
A booking team comprised of members of favorite Savannah bands Crazy Bag Lady, The Toxic Shock, and Miquel Moure, Dad Joke books a variety of punk, garage, and electronic; while some shows may go down in bars, they make an effort to find accessible spaces for all-ages, too. Past artists include Downtown Boys, Guerilla Toss, Boyfriend, and more. Find ‘em on Facebook and Instagram.
Dope Sandwich | @DopeSandwich
A local label serving up hip-hop, spoken word, and more, Dope Sandwich hosts events all over the city that are worth hitting. From DIY shows to outdoor community festivals, you just never know where Dope artists will pop up—follow to keep track of ‘em.
Graveface Records | @graveface_recs
An indie label with a taste for the strange, macabre, and intricate, Graveface is home to the likes of Black Moth Super Rainbow, The Appleseed Cast, Whirr, and more. Lucky for us, bossman Ryan Graveface moved to SAV a few years back and opened up a shop, Graveface Records & Curiosities, full of used and new vinyl, taxidermy, horror collectibles, and more.
Over the past couple of years, Graveface has held all-ages shows in-store; currently, they’re working on soundproofing renovations, so hang on until their fourth anniversary party on October 16 for the grand reopening of the stage. Dreamend (Graveface himself’s band), The Marshmallow Ghosts, Des Ark, and Hospital Ships will play, and they all kick ass and aren’t to be missed. Plus, there’s going to be tarot readings and tattooing, so...
The Foundery Coffee Pub | facebook.com/FounderyCoffeePub
Located right next to SCAD's Anderson Hall, The Foundery is a neighborhood go-to for your caffeine boost. With a Thursday open mic and monthly all-ages shows, typically of the indie rock, punk and emo variety, the spacious hub is the perfect spot for catching music outside of the downtown hubbub.
Furious Hooves | @furioushooves
This Savannah/Virginia label is home to a diverse roster of artists, many of them native to Savannah. Go scope out their catalog of tapes and vinyl at Graveface and follow for local show updates and new artists to discover. Ryan McCardle, one-half of the label, is a SCAD alum and designs the label’s packaging, posters, and more—check out their Insta for design eye candy.
Savannah Music Festival | @savmusicfest
Georgia’s largest music festival happens once a year right downtown. Note, this isn’t a Bonnaroo-inhaling-dust-slathered-in-mud-mini-bottles-stuffed-in-your-bra situation: SMF takes place in illustrious, all-ages venues such as SCAD’s Trustees Theatre, The Lucas Theatre, Johnny Mercer Theatre, and more, over the course of a few weeks in March and April. It’s home to everything from chamber music to Grammy winners to indie heroes: Band of Horses, The Avett Brothers, Chris Thile of Nickel Creek, and Mavis Staples are some recent headliners.
This is a great fest to volunteer for as, on a student budget, tickets can get a little pricey. Check out their website for volunteer opportunities and stay tuned for their 2016 lineup release.
Tongue Open Mouth and Music Show | facebook.com/tongueopenmic
If you’re interested in sharing your own music, poetry, or spoken word, you need to check out Tongue. Held on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month at The Sentient Bean and the first and third Tuesday at Savannah Coffee Roasters, Tongue is a loving community of local performers who encourage one another and work on their craft together. Both venues are all ages.
Savannah Stopover focuses on bringing just-about-to-break acts to town for their annual March fest, so you can literally say “I saw ____ before they were cool”—folks who’ve been around for the past few fests can say so about Grimes, Mac DeMarco, Future Islands, Hurray For the Riff Raff, Diarrhea Planet, and more. Plus, they bring in legends, too, like Thurston Moore’s Chelsea Light Moving and of Montreal. Not all of Stopover’s venues are all-ages, but they strive to make spaces for folks under 21 during the big weekend.
MusicFile Productions, Stopover’s parent company, also puts on Revival Fest, happening this weekend right behind the SCAD freshman dorms (scope out the lineup on page 30 of this issue), and sets up stand-alone shows throughout the year. Follow ‘em for show updates, contests, and volunteer opportunities!
Night Shift with Ryan – Rock 106.1 WFXH | @nightshift1061
Tune in Sunday nights at 10 p.m. to hear local and regional music on Underexposed. Man-about-town Ryan is a great Twitter follow for show updates, live videos and pics.
Dollhouse Productions | @dollhouseSAV
Peter and Blake Mavrogeorgis (co-owners of Dollhouse, an event space and recording studio) are a strong force behind the push for 18+ venues. Follow for updates on that, gear porn (the studio boasts a drool-worthy collection of vintage Gretsch guitars and tape machines), and show announcements throughout Savannah.