Category Archives: Venues

Ten of the most unusual music venues in the US

Here’s our survey of ten of the most unusual music venues in the US.

Bluegrass Underground at Cumberland Caverns, McMinville, Tennessee

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Credit: Michael Weintrob

The Caverns operate as a tourist destination by day but play host to the Bluegrass Underground concert series for a couple of nights every month. The gigs take place 333ft underground in the ominously named Volcano Room.

Red Rocks Amphitheater – Morrison, Colorado

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Credit: Nathan Mach

Fans flock to this desert setting amphitheatre for an immersive experience in music and nature. Set between the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, Red Rocks Park sprawls over 738 acres and is 6,450 ft above sea level. U2, Sting and The Beatles have all taken advantage of the stunning setting and acoustics.

SteelStacks – Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

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SteelStacks originally served as the Saucona Iron Company. It was founded in 1857 and the company produced the first iron rails for local railroad. The first steel was made ten years later and the operation, which employed thousands of locals, transformed intoThe Bethlehem Steel Company.

The constructions of Manhattan’s Chrysler Building and the Golden Gate Bridge depended on its produce. As the steel industry declined, the site shut down operations and in 2005 it was reborn as The SteelStacks campus, a home for culture and art. Gigs take place at the foot of the towering, rusty plant.

X Po Monkeys Juke Joint – Merigold, Mississippi

Merigold, MS: Po' Monkey's Lounge

Merigold, MS: Po’ Monkey’s Lounge

This off-the-beaten track shack is the stuff of Mississippi Delta blues legends. It launched in 1961 by hut owner Willie Seaberry as a place to entertain. Blues fans have been making pilgrimages its rickety walls, obeying the myriad signs outside warning them to bring their liquor inside but to leave at home the beer. Seaberry died in 2016 but the shack remains on Thursday nights.

The Gorge Amphitheater – Gorge, Washington

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The Gorge is a monster, 20,000 plus outdoor venue which overlooks the Columbia River in Washington. Its layout offers stunning views of the river and serves as the perfect summer concert spot. Coldplay, Guns N Roses, Kings of Leon and John Maher are among the scores of acts which have played there.

X Austin 360 Amphitheater at the Circuit of the Americas – Austin, Texas

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This 14,000 person amphitheater is set around a 3.41mile Formula 1 racetrack. It’s relatively new (built in 2012) but has already attracted big crowds and big names including Willie Nelson, Justin Timberlake, Muse, 30 Seconds to Mars. The track itself plays host to the US’s only Formula 1 event, the United States Grand Prix.

Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion – Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire

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Credit: Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion 

Set on the banks of New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee, this picturesque venue is widely recognised as one of the best in the country. It sits on what was formerly known as Meadowbrook Farm which was owned privately by the Miller family who used it for summer vacations. The Millers were musically gifted and, as more cottages popped up on the land, they used it to entertain friends with their talents. The concept evolved over the years and now has 5,746 seats under its pavilion roof and space for almost 2,000 on the lawn.

Surf Ballroom – Clearlake, Iowa

surf ballroom

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Palm tree murals, beach stripes and bamboo booths are what fill this nostalgic ballroom and museum in Iowa’s clear lake. Tragically, the original ballroom was destroyed by a fire in 1947. Its replacement was built across the street the following year, decked out in the Ocean Club theme its original owners requested. The ballroom has followed its fans and their tastes through the musical decades ever since and continues to delight with regular shows. In 2011, it was included in the National Register of Historical Places.

Brooklyn Bowl – Williamsburg, New York

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Credit: Scott Harris

A favourite among Williamsburg’s craft beer chugging hipsters, the Brooklyn Bowl combines bowling with laid-back gigs with effortless ease. Its show schedule is packed with bowling themed family events but the space is just as often rented out for private events.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery, LA

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It’s the resting place of some of Hollywood’s most beloved stars. So it’s little surprise that the Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles also attracts living, breathing talent. Clearly, its business is not in gigs but a handful of artists have put on unique, somewhat eerie, shows there in the past. The cemetery’s onsite Masonic Lodge now serves as its venue for live shows.