I’ve decided to do a more general review for today and start on the in depth interviews and reviews as of next week since carysmegansound only launched this Monday.
Today I want to talk to you about venues I’ve been to in the past and what made them so memorable. When I go to a gig, I generally sum up the experience by looking at the venue in terms of atmosphere, building, sound, and the band itself. In this review I’ll tell you about some of the venues I’ve enjoyed the best for these reasons!
Atmosphere / Building
Although of course we go to venues to see someone perform, I believe that the atmosphere of a venue can make or break my experience. Some venues feel too ‘cold’ or clinical but places such as The Windmill (Brixton), Sanctuary (Basingstoke), The Fighting Cocks (Kingston) and The Boileroom (Guildford) have a such a great vibe because they’re so quirky and suit the bands that play there really well – there are band stickers and art all over the walls and they feel welcoming to artists and audience alike. Venues like The Fighting Cocks have an added element of the bands playing in a back room you almost wouldn’t notice was there, which makes the whole experience feel more inclusive.
Another bonus of some venues is what they offer besides drink. I went to a gig the other week at New River Studios in Seven Sisters and the venue had its own café / bar and were serving a delicious vegan curry that day, which was a bit more than the usual bar snacks a lot of venues offer – The Lexington also offers a vegan curry for anyone who’s interested! Another venue like this is The Boileroom where they offer Pieminister pies (which are delicious) and are served in a convenient container so you can watch your band and enjoy your dinner. Venues that offer substantial food I always love because it means I don’t have to have the inevitable 1am takeaway food on the way home! The GMT shows in Grenwich take this a step further – the venue is outdoors and all around you have bars, places to buy oysters, churros, and various ‘home made’ take-away food. I’ve been to 2 GMT gigs and love the unusual experience, even though every time the wind changes the EQ levels change, which leads me onto my next point…
You can never guarantee how the band / artist you’ve come to see will sound, as some rooms are just not the right shape or size for the band in question. Ever realised when you’re listening to music some bass frequencies will resonate in your living room but not in your bedroom? Also the genre of music being played may not fit with that particular venue. The best overall sounding gig I’ve been to was Jake Bugg at the O2 Academy Brixton in I think 2013. The building was a cinema / theatre for around 40 years so you get the lovely round shape of a theatre, and coupled with the floor being a long slope from where the seats were somehow made for a wonderful, full sound from Jake and his support act (it also meant small people like me could see when further back!) But it may not have worked for other genres of music – Jake and his support were both acoustic acts, so perhaps the sound of the acoustic guitar was really complimented by the wooden walls and carpet floor and the shape of the venue?
My main point is when you see a band live, there will probably be some compromise you have to make, whether that may be standing further back in the crowd to see a popular artist, having to wear ear plugs to see a metal band in a little pub or standing on sticky carpet in clubs.
I don’t know if there are any ‘perfect’ venues, but every gig is special in one way or another so you see past the faults because you’re with a crowd all enjoying a shared experience together.
Tweet and let me know your favourite venues!