Have you ever been to a standard gig in a pub or typical music venue and taken a little time to think about the mundane nature of standard gig venues? Well, most people probably haven’t because people are usually so in awe of having just seen their favourite band play that old song from their original album they thought they would never hear in a live setting again that the state or nature of the venue doesn’t even come into it. Having played well over a few hundred gigs in my time and attended an amount no less than fifty, I can say that after a while, you do get a little tired of the repetitive nature of seeing bands play in venues that are generic, soulless, and altogether unremarkable. It gives me great pleasure to compile a list of venues that are as a minimum less than usual and at their best a tad eccentric (to say the least). I’ve decided that there should be no particular order to this list because each example is as unusual and distinctive as the next, so we hope you simply enjoy the stranger homes to musical performance that the world has to offer.
Arena of Nimes (Nimes, France)
By far the most beautiful venue for music on this list, the Arena of Nimes is an ancient Roman amphitheatre that was constructed in 70AD. Apart from being able to tell people that you have played a gig in a masterpiece of architectural history, can you imagine the surreal nature of going to a gig here? This has to be one to visit on anyone’s music venue list since the sound alone would be unbelievable.
Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace (California)
A venue in the middle of nowhere but relatively near an old Wild West film’s set, Pappy and Harriet’s has been played by the Vampire Weekend and the Arctic Monkeys among others. An intimate venue with a unique history and set 130 miles east of Hollywood, this is another must-see for lovers of strange music venues.
The Shed (Somerset, England)
It’s not an ironic name; this venue really is just a shed. In fact, it is a shed that doubles as one of the more unusual music venues in Somerset, England and indeed the world, even winning a “Shed of the Year” award. Not only is it the best shed you’ll ever visit, it’s probably the best music venue set in a shed as well.
Asbury Lanes (Asbury Park, New Jersey)
This venue is very much a snapshot of a long-gone era, specifically the 1950s. This venue is none other than a bowling alley located in the resort town of Asbury Park, New Jersey. It is quite incredible to think that people casually continue with their bowling matches whilst bands are playing, but this has to be one of the more eccentric musical experiences one will ever encounter in their music-hearing career.
Hollywood Forever Cemetery (Los Angeles)
Though it sounds a little sullen, Hollywood Forever Cemetery has seen sunrise gigs from the likes of Bon Iver (one of my favourite bands and one of the few with actual talent these days), and performances from Sigur Ros, and The XX. This building has a rich history (it is where Dee Dee/Johnny Ramone’s ashes are located and was the place of the cremation of George Harrison) and will itself go down in history as a strange venue for live music.
Thekla (Bristol, England)
I’ve been to Bristol many times and have always thoroughly enjoyed myself whilst there, mainly because they have unusual places such as Thekla there. Thekla is actually a boat that hosts parties containing music that ranges from folk to wobbly dub(step), with regular gigs and DJs playing there.
A38 (Budapest, Hungary)
Another boat this time, and this one is a decommissioned coal ship (from Soviet times, of course) that is now moored on the Danube on a permanent basis.