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Music Venues Impact A Concert Experience Much More Than You Think

music venues
a music venue

My last experience with some music venues let me rethink my future concert adventures. Some venues really spoil everything and are not worth the money. For example, there are bands that will continue to book the Kia Forum, a venue I cannot stand… unless I can get a pit ticket and stand front row. The seated sections can become the worst concert experience and if this is true for any large concert arena, there’s something about the Forum that make things worse: it doesn’t have the aerial and modern style of the SoFi stadium, that is open to the outside, and it doesn’t have the acoustic wonder of the gorgeous Walt Disney Hall.

At a show, I have a simple rule: the more distractions inside the venue, the less satisfying the performance is going to be. It’s obvious that pizza or popcorn delivery at your seat should be banished. Large music venues can be a pain regarding the foot traffic during a concert, because the more people you are surrounded with, the more movement you are going to endure in 2 or 3 hours, that’s simply unavoidable. However, large venues are not all equal. For some reason, the audience at the Hollywood Bowl is always more tolerable than the restless crowd at the Rose Bowl, which was completely out of control when I went to see the Rolling Stones a few years ago. The reason may be very simple since the Hollywood Bowl is one of these rare music venues that authorize people to bring picnic baskets, so they don’t need to get out of their seats to buy food and drinks.

Besides the audience, which is a big part of the show, there’s also the general vibe of the venue, its beauty and style, and its design in general. Small or medium-sized music venues are often better at creating the right vibe because the crowd is in general closer to the stage, the show is more intimate, and most of them are beautiful vintage theatres. However, I have never liked the acoustic of the Wiltern for example, and I have always preferred the El Rey or the Fonda Theatres. The standing floor of the Palladium (which is not a theatre) is just too large and looks like a giant waiting room: when it gets packed, it gets hot and unbearable, and if you are short and not able to stand in the front rows, just forget about it. It not only kills the vibe but also any possible enjoyment of a show. The Shrine Expo Hall is even worst, a railroad station looks a million times better than this weird dumpster, and if the Shrine auditorium is much better, the pit is so deep that, when you are standing in it, the stage is at the level of your front head. I got neck pain the last time I was there.

The small dark DIY clubs are good for punk shows where acoustic doesn’t matter much but they do not work that well for other kinds of styles. They get very stuffy very fast, and, in general, I always prefer to attend an outdoor concert than one in a suffocating room.

I am well aware that it will be very difficult to see famous bands again since there is no chance some of them will ever book medium-sized venues again. I am talking about the Black Keys – they did a surprise show at the Troubadour this summer, but how could you get a ticket? – Depeche Mode, Arctic Monkeys, and all these bands that have upcoming shows at the Forum – I have a floor ticket for Arcade Fire over there, and we’ll see how it goes, but I have a really bad feeling about it.

When it comes to buying a ticket for a show, I have reached a point where I almost pay as much importance to the music venues as the performers themselves. And this makes me a bit sad.

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