You can listen to a band’s album all you want, playing records, CDs, or high-quality Mp3s until you can no longer stand the songs, but there simply isn’t a substitute for actual, real-life, in-the-flesh, live music. Live recordings can give you an idea of the atmosphere at a particular venue, but until you’ve actually seen your favourite band play live, you cannot truly claim to actually know how great they are. Though a band’s performance is obviously the main factor in the quality of a live performance, the venue also plays a vital role as well. Even the best and most technically-skilled band’s performance can fall a little flat if the venue isn’t quite right. A lesser-known band playing a stadium is of course a no-no, as is a well-known and well-toured band playing a community centre with vocal mics on the drums. There has to be a happy medium, which brings me to the issue of what exactly are the best venues in the world for hosting a good, old-fashioned rock gig? This is a list of just a few ideas.
Whisky-a-Go-Go (LA, California)
Studio 60 isn’t the only famous location to have its home on the Sunset Strip: Whisky-a-Go-Go is located in this bustling centre of business and leisure as well. It played a monumental part in nurturing the early careers of such bands as The Doors, with Frank Zappa signing an all-important record deal after one of his performances there. With The Who and Zeppelin (Led) also racking up performances there, it is an undeniably influential and instrumental rock venue that has cemented its place in the history of rock music and is held in the hearts of every band that has played there.
CBGB (NY, New York)
While the name is actually an acronym to indicate the genres that the club was supposed to host (Country, Bluegrass, and Blues), CBGB happened to become a nurturing ground for American New Wave and even Punk music. The Ramones, The B52s, Blondie, and Talking Heads have all performed there. This venue was founded in 1973 and therefore had quite some longevity until it sadly closed its doors in 2006.
Marquee Club (London, England)
This England club is where the Rolling Stones first began to play and started to become part of public consciousness. This club has seen its share of musical greatness over the years from The Who, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd to Iron Maiden and Metallica. The venue has a relatively small stage, much like the rest of the venues listed here, resulting in a fantastic atmosphere and a generally impressive sound.
Cavern Club (Liverpool, England)
You can’t really have a list like this and omit the club where The Beatles performed and were discovered by Epstein all those years ago. The Rolling Stones also played here as well as Elton John and The Who. It is pleasant news that the club is still open today hosting live music and luring in curious tourists that want to see where The Beatles got their big break.
Crocodile Cafe (Seattle, WA)
Due to its location and the fact it opened in the year 1991, one can hazard a guess as to the genre of music that featured heavily in this club. Grunge was the genre of choice here, with Nirvana obviously being one of the most famous bands to play here, as well as Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and the hipster’s wet dream, Neutral Milk Hotel. This venue closed in 2007 but thankfully reopened in 2009 under the new name: The Crocodile.