Alt Rock Blog
The Places You Must See Live Music Before You Die (part 2)December 18th, 2014 by Zachary Connolly
Part 2: For the true blue live music fanatic, these 6 venues are a must do before you kick the bucket.
Iceland Airwaves – Reijkevic, Iceland
Locale: Icelandic winter is like nothing you’ve ever seen. Bring that parka because you might not take it off until you’re ready for the Hot Springs. There are several natural hot springs in the area, including a couple where clothing is optional (remember – eyes up). Set on the outskirts of beautiful Reijkevic, cheap hostels are available nearby and so are campgrounds.
History: This festival has featured Of Monsters and Men, Jonsi, Future Islands, The Flaming Lips, Hozier, The War on Drugs, and many more. Natural beauty looms large on this festival, which is surrounded by glaciers, waterfalls and active volcanoes (no, seriously).
Personality: Have you ever listened to primo music, while lounging in a Hot Spring, underneath the Aurora Bourealis, surrounded by beautiful Nordic homies? Of course not. Because if you had we would be best friends by now. Imagine Bonnaroo but less bro-y, less crowded, less messy, less shitty, and less English speakers.
Fun Fact: In the past, there has been a yearly special where, for $900, you can get a festival pass AND round trip non-stop flights on Icelandair.
End of the Road Festival – Dorset, UK
Locale: A strange, intimate, hippie, carnival of sounds in the middle of a beautiful English forest – that pretty much covers it. This festival is hosted in the Larmer Tree Gardens – a beautiful 11 acre plot of land established in 1880 as “pleasure grounds for public enlightenment.”
History: In 2006, the End of the Road Festival was created and since then the Gardens have hosted The Flaming Lips, St. Vincent, Sigur Ros, Belle and Sebastian, The Walkmen, David Byrne, Fleet Foxes, Conor Oberst, Patti Smith, Jenny Lewis and many more.
Personality: Part thrift store, part sculpture garden, part carnival, part campsite and part tailgate. In addition to 4 main stages, there are workshops dedicated to theatre, comedy and film.
Fun Fact: There is also a games area for when you need to destroy your friends in ping pong or foosball (oh sorry-table football).
St. Barnabas Chapel – Greek Street, London
Locale/History: Completed in 1754, this place has long been a Sunday school and a shelter for the homeless of London. During WWII, the Chapel sustained extensive damage from German bombing campaigns. Although much of the premises has been restored, there is still cosmetic evidence of the damage (pretty badass). In just a few years, St. Barnabas has become a hotbed for the UK’s best up n coming acoustic artists as well as a number of orchestral groups. In recent years they have hosted Mumford and Sons, Nick Mulvey, Laura Dogget, Josh Ritter, and Gilles Peterson.
Personality: From the ornate architecture to the breathtaking acoustics, this place has developed a reputation for intimate performances. The tickets are cheap and shows are nothing short of breathtaking. The Chapel itself still serves as a charity for the homeless. Part of every dollar you spend there goes directly to food, shelter, and employment for London’s homeless.
Fun Fact: Charles Dickens “A Tale of Two Cities” prominently features sections of St. Barnabas, namely the Garden just outside the chapel.
Rainforest World Music Festival – Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
Locale: Set in the remote Malaysian village of Kuching, this festival is a beautiful celebration of Southeast Asian culture, but also showcases incredible artists and food from all over the world. Everything takes place under a lush canopy of trees deep in a beautiful Sarawak forest.
Personality: The festival features performers from all corners of the World Music genre. Performers come from across the globe to participate in this festival, which feels less like a concert and more like the celebration of an unknown cultural New Year. All performers focus largely on the cultural roots of their music, most wearing some traditional outfit and many using traditional instruments. There are a number of different workshops during the day before the party starts at Sunset.
Food: Mostly local Malaysian cuisine and traditional Southeast Asian. So hopefully you’re a fan of spice.
Fun Fact: This festival has been voted Top 25 Music Festivals in the World by 300 Fest for four years in a row.
Aux Trois Mailletz – Paris, FRA
Locale: On the first floor you are greeted by an intimate piano bar where there is a rotating line-up of incredibly good-looking Parisian pianists who take turns serenading. At around 10:30 PM the line to the basement starts to form. The basement is a 12th century stone mason cellar that looks less like a music venue and more like a Game of Thrones dungeon. The room is lined with long sturdy oak tables. Sturdy tables are necessary when performers are dancing and playing music on the table two inches from your drink.
History/Personality: It’s considered the last true Cabaret in Paris. For now, this gem remains relatively under the radar, unravaged by tourists. Don’t go here expecting to see famous artists or bands. However, before its current incarnation, this jazz bar played host to such greats as Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, Count Basie, and Louie Armstrong. While they no longer host big names, the performers here are some of the most talented musicians, singers, and dancers in all of France.
Food: Unless you’re a high roller, don’t drink the outrageously priced cocktails. Do yourself a favor and drink beforehand- pregaming isn’t just for college students.
Fun Fact: This place is just down the block from Notre Dame. See the sights and come by here to cap off your night.
Traena Music Festival – Traena, Norway
Capacity: Approx. 2,000
Locale: This Norse gem, often billed as “the World’s Most Remote Festival”, is set on the sparsely populated, albeit ancient, fishing village of Traena. It is only accessible by a brisk 3+ hour ferry ride from the Norwegian mainland.
History: There is archaeological evidence of people living here since the Stone Age (around 9,000 years ago). Despite its remote location, this place draws bigger acts every year like First Aid Kit, The Mighty Oaks, Charlie XCX, The Whitest Boy Alive, DZ Deathrays, and Kyla La Grange.
Personality: This festival is all about three things- Food, Nature, and Music. Three giant peaks on the tiny surrounding islands loom over the festival, adding a humbling perspective to the entire occasion. One of the stages is a cathedral-sized cave, featuring natural acoustics that are impossible to recreate. Another stage is an old church with blacked out windows to keep out the sun. Oh yea, since Traena is so far North, the sun rarely sets completely. Instead, it just dims heavily. So bring a tent with shade coverage. This is a festival for journeymen, people unafraid of strange climates, and pescatarians.
Food: Virtually all food at the festival is fresh fish caught less than a mile from the grounds. Wild cod, salmon, monkfish and coalfish are among the delicacies. They also have a make shift sushi stand inside a shipping container or, if you want to go full on native, one vendor grills up fresh whale steaks.
Fun Fact: There are a couple ships that anchor near the main concert grounds to sell things to concert-goers. One ship is the “sauna ship” – nothing like assaulting your senses by maxing out in a sauna before a jump into icy Nordic waters.