When it comes to travelling, there’s no better way to get a feel for a city than by immersing yourself in its sights and sounds. While the visual gems are usually easy to spot, it can be a little trickier to feel the true beat of the city. Luckily, we’ve kept our ear to the ground and derived a list of some of the best music venues in the world, so you can get into the rhythm wherever you are.
1. The 100 Club – London, England
Located at 100 Oxford Street, London, The 100 Club has been a home to live music since 1942. Originally starting out as a restaurant hosting a jazz night once a week, it evolved into the home of punk rock in the 1970’s with the likes of The Sex Pistols and The Clash playing here. The decor has remained largely unchanged since then, so stepping over the threshold is like stepping back in time. Definitely one to add to your London itinerary.
2. Sidecar – Barcelona, Spain
Found just off Las Ramblas in Barcelona, Sidecar is a small, intimate venue that showcases the most eclectic music the city has to offer. A favourite of many travelling bands, Sidecar has the capacity to hold just 300 people, meaning this sweaty basement bar is home to some of Barcelona’s rowdiest nights. Not for the faint-hearted, but not to missed.
3. The Bowery Ballroom – New York City, USA
Known for their sell-out shows (it has a capacity of 525) and being host to Kanye’s infamous on-stage rant in 2010, The Bowery Ballroom is one of the most iconic venues in NYC. Its clear acoustics, great views and continual roster of outstanding live music make it a must visit.
4. The Drake Hotel – Toronto, Canada
Sometimes referred to as ‘the basement that never sleeps’, Drake Underground at the Drake Hotel in Toronto is widely hailed as one of the city’s best music venues. They have a reputation for showcasing breaking artists, but big names such as M.I.A, Sampha and Beck have also graced the stage at Drake Underground.
5. Zapata Café Bar – Berlin, Germany
A small music venue in central Berlin where sounds and pyrotechnics come together to offer something a little different to the crowd. Enjoy your drink, listen to some great music and mind your hair as flames erupt from the bar while the band plays on.
6. Prinzenbar – Hamburg, Germany
One of the oldest cinemas in Europe, Prinzenbar is worth a visit for its aesthetics alone. With stucco finishes and ostentatious chandeliers at every turn, it’s a sight to behold. Artists like David Bowie and Bloc Party have graced its stages and its nightly rotas of electro parties and concerts with low entry fees mean it’s one to check out.
7. The Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez Race Track – Mexico City, Mexico
This world-famous formula one racetrack is home to the Mexican Grand Prix and plays host to the Corona Capital music festival every year. The multi-genre festival promises huge acts across two days and is regarded as one of the world’s best modern music festivals.
8. Vicar Street – Dublin, Ireland
In the heart of Dublin, Vicar Street is one of the Irish capital’s best live music venues. With a capacity of 1500, it has provided an intimate concert setting for some of the world’s biggest artists including Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Paul Simon. It’s also a multiple-time recipient of the ‘Live Venue of The Year’ award. Where better to sample a Guinness and some home-grown Irish talent?
9. The Fillmore – San Francisco, USA
The legendary Fillmore in San Francisco had its first incarnation as a dance hall when it opened in 1912. Since then, artists like James Brown, Tina Turner and Tom Petty have all played the iconic venue. It closed down for a short time in the late 80s and early 90s, but later reclaimed its crown as one of San Fran’s hottest spots when it reopened in 1994. They have frequent shows, so if you find yourself in SF grab a ticket and experience a piece of history that you won’t find in any museum.
10. Cherry Bar – Melbourne, Australia
You don’t get much more rock and roll than Cherry Bar. Situated on AC/DC lane, this raucous bar has all the hallmarks of an iconic venue: sticky carpets, basement location and a graffitied entrance. Not to mention famous clientele – they once turned down Lady Gaga for an after-show gig because a local band was playing that night. She turned up anyway and partied all night with the regulars!
If you find yourself in Australia’s coolest city, buy a ticket and see for yourself why Noel Gallagher offered to the buy this bar when he visited!
11. Olympia Theatre – Dublin, Ireland
Starting life as a music hall back in 1879, The Olympia offers a glimpse into Dublin’s cultural past as well as its energetic present. The lovingly restored ornate interior and crisp acoustics have provided the perfect performance environment for multiple big name stars over the years, including Adele, REM, LCD Soundsystem and even Charlie Chaplin
12. The Fonda – Los Angeles, USA
The iconic Fonda, situated on Hollywood Boulevard, is a historic 1920’s venue and a real piece of Hollywood history. If the music isn’t reason enough to visit, then the eye-catching Spanish Colonial Revival design will certainly turn your head.
13. Sydney Opera House – Sydney, Australia
Is there a more recognisable music venue in the world than the Sydney Opera House? The city’s pride and joy is open to the public for tours, but if you only have a few minutes to spare be sure to snap a selfie on the iconic steps of a building where music legends like Crowded House and Thin Lizzy have performed.
14. Jones Beach Theater – Wantagh, NY, USA
An outdoor amphitheatre where the stage overlooks the water on Jones Beach. A dreamy setting for a summer concert!
15. Preservation Hall – New Orleans, USA
The ultimate jazz venue located in the famous French Quarter of New Orleans. On any given night, audience members are treated to music from local jazz musicians. Treat yourself to a night of authentic acoustics and thank us later.
16. Wilton’s Music Hall – London, England
A quirky music hall located in London’s East End with original features still in tact. They hold concerts and musical performances throughout the year while serving food and drink onsite. Dinner and a show under one roof!
17. Red Rocks – Colorado, USA
This open-air amphitheatre made from natural rock formations has provided surreal surroundings for some of history’s best performances. Jimi Hendrix, The Blues Brothers and The Beatles have all taken the stage at Red Rocks Park.
18. Casbah – San Diego, USA
Located in downtown San Diego, the Casbah is a piece of Californian history that’s launched a multitude of local bands. With a capacity of 200, patrons have been treated to intimate gigs from the likes of Nirvana, Alanis Morrisette and Blink 182.
19. King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut – Glasgow, Scotland
Described by NME as “quite possibly the finest small venue in the world”, King Tut’s on St Vincent street in Glasgow is a fan favourite for catching emerging local bands and cult international acts. Some of the biggest acts in the world got their start at King Tut’s. Blur, Biffy Clyro and Coldplay all graced the stage early in their careers
20. Ronnie Scott’s – London, England
Ronnie Scott’s needs little introduction, but you might need a map to find this famous jazz joint located in a basement bar in London’s Soho. Get there early to soak up the atmosphere and to avoid being turned away. When it’s full, it’s full.
21. The Salt Mines – Krakow, Poland
One of the oldest salt mines in operation, last used for its original purpose in 2007. Since then, it’s been host to a range of grand musical events, choirs, brass bands, and world-renowned artists.
22. The Orpheum – Vancouver, Canada
Home of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the elegant surroundings of The Orpheum must be seen to be believed. At over 90 years old and steeped in historical elegance, the theatre provides a stunning setting for live music shows.
23. Chicago Theatre – Chicago, USA
You’ll know it when you see it. Why? Because the Chicago Theatre, which was officially titled a landmark building in 1983, is a regular extra in TV shows and movies set in the windy city.
24. Royal Albert Hall – London, England
London’s Royal Albert Hall is sometimes said to be more impressive for its aesthetics than its acoustics, awks. But don’t let that put you off. It’s been home to some of the UK’s finest shows including the annual summer proms, and its elegant surroundings could transform even the most mundane to the magnificent.
25. Slane Castle – County Meath, Ireland
The sloping grounds of the impressive Slane Castle create a natural amphitheatre with amazing acoustics. Since 1981 the venue has been used to host concerts catering for up to 80,000, and rock legends Metallica have just been confirmed to headline the Castle next year!
26. Ryman Auditorium – Nashville, USA
If Nashville is home to country music, then the Ryman Auditorium is home to country music stars. It was also home to The Grand Ole Opry from 1943 – 1971. The show is still going strong and every year the Opry moves back to the Ryman for a few months. If you time your visit right, you can experience history in the making.
27. Palacio de Bellas Artes – Mexico City, Mexico
The visually striking building of Palacio de Bellas Artes has played host to some of Mexico’s biggest and best arts and music events. It’s so important that UNESCO declared it an artistic monument in 1987. Even if you can’t make it to a show, it’s worth a visit to soak up the Art Nouveau and Art Deco design, as well the impressive murals that dominate the floors between the ground and top.
28. House of Blues – Boston, USA
Located on Landsdowne Street, the legendary House of Blues is one of Boston’s premiere music venues. Opened in 1992 this one is a must for both music and film buffs, having originally been financed by the likes of Aerosmith, Dan Akroyd and River Phoenix. They offer up a Sunday gospel brunch alongside rhythm and blues most evenings.
29. The Hollywood Bowl – Los Angeles, USA
Another natural amphitheatre. Set among the Hollywood Hills with the iconic sign visible behind it, The Bowl is one of the most famous music venues in North America. It features a wide array of musical genres, but weekends are reserved for pop, rock and fireworks.
30. Simón Bolívar Park – Bogota, Colombia
Known as ‘the green lung of Bogota’ thanks to its lush green landscapes and central location, the Simón Bolívar Park covers 113 hectares and provides a stunning backdrop to countless music events throughout the year. With the capacity to hold 100,000 people at any one time, attending a concert here could be a once in a lifetime experience.
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