Going to a new country is often a whirlwind of hotels, museums, excursions and scheduled activities as we try to cram as much of the local culture in as humanly possible. However when it comes to the evening most people can be found chilling in a restaurant or at the hotel bar (with the obvious exception of Ibiza where you’re likely to be off your face and knee deep in foam at 4am, but I digress). A great alternative to slowly getting fuzzy on umbrella laden daiquiris is to check out the neighbourhood live music venues. Not only are they a great night out, they are also often rich with history, folklore, and occasional scandal. Ever since I checked out the Whiskey A Go Go in West Hollywood on a trip to LA, finding iconic rock music venues has been on the to-do list. The following are my top picks if you happen to be in the area.
1. The Cavern Club
Where – Liverpool, UK
Still most famous for regularly hosting the Beatles in the early 60s, The Cavern is still going strong in 2019. Now 3 venues, the Cavern Club, Cavern Live Lounge and the Cavern Pub, it is still hosting up and coming acts who hope a bit of John, Paul, George and Ringo’s magic will rub off on them. If you’re a Beatles fan it’s pretty much a must see, but even if you’re not particularly into rocking out to Hard Day’s Night it’s still definitely a good night and well worth a visit.
2. Le Pop In
Where – Paris, France
The Pop In is probably one of my most favourite venues in the world. The Pop In began when two friends wanted somewhere they really loved to hang out, so they opened their own venue, something many people dream of doing but very few actually follow through on. It is made up of two main rooms and ‘the cellar’ which acts the venue’s central hub. The acts range from heavy rock through to electronica which coupled with relatively cheap drinks almost guarantees a top night.
3. The Troubadour
Where – West London, UK.
Despite it’s tiny size The Troubadour has been hosting some of the world’s biggest acts since 1954. Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan and Paul Simon are just 3 of the iconic acts to have graced it’s stage in the 60’s. It would be worth checking out for the decor alone, however I would try and get to a live music night on any trip to London.
4. Nippon Budokan Hall
Where – Tokyo, Japan
When Beatle-mania hit Japan, it hit hard. The Beatles kicked off their Japanese tour at the Hall to sold out crowd of semi to fully hysterical fans. Since then the Hall has been a popular venue for artists such as Cheap Trick, Bob Dylan and Blur to record live albums.
5. The Boardwalk
Where – Sheffield, UK
Originally called The Black Swan, the Boardwalk is most famous for hosting the Clash’s first ever gig in 1976 as the support act for The Sex Pistols. It is also credited with kicking off the Arctic Monkeys career, with the band naming their first demo ‘Beneath the Boardwalk’ in honour of the pub.
6. The Roxy Theatre
Where – Los Angeles, CA, USA
Located on LA’s famous Sunset Strip, The Roxy hosted the Red Hot Chili Peppers first ever gig as well as Bob Dylan (who seems to have left no venue unplayed) Prince, David Bowie plus a particularly famous show from Guns N Roses. My favourite thing about the Roxy is its ability to transport you back to the times of sex, drugs and rock n roll without having to commit to either time travel or a perm.
Where – Munich, Germany
The quirky interior of this tiny Munich bar juxtaposes well with the variety of acts that walk out on it’s stage. From indie bands to jazz jams it is the best venue for those wanting something different from the mainstream. Everything is on a lean so hold on you your jacket and your drink when you get there or they may just slide away.
8. The Hollywood Whiskey A Go Go
Where – Hollywood, CA, USA
The Whiskey began life in 1964 as a gentleman’s club where Go-Go girls danced in cages. It evolved over time into a regular venue that is most famous for launching The Doors to fame. Don’t expect any flash interiors, it has a bit more of an underfunded youth club aesthetic but the vibe is incredible. This was also the venue I first saw Meytal Cohen at so it gets 100/10 for that alone.