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Music is an everyday part of our lives and you usually can’t beat the experience of a good band in a decent pub, with its mix of songs, location and atmosphere.

But the alehouse/live band interface is a tried, tested and somewhat traditional one and the staple of many convivial and sociable nights out.

However – not always content with conventional performance spaces – some musicians want to go that extra mile to draw a crowd.

And that got me thinking – what are some of the most unusual /strange gig locations?

I’ve heard of bands playing at mental asylums and crematoriums – and let’s face it, that’s pretty weird – in a bid to add a more unusual twist to proceedings.

Here are a few alternative gig venues that will make a Friday night at the local concert hall seem positively passé .

Chip Shop

Who’d have thought that you could listen to the strains of a top indie songster whilst waiting for your cod and chips?

Well, that’s just what happened when Badly Drawn Boy played at the Magnet Fish Bar in Bristol a few years ago to launch a new album. Sure, it’s a limited capacity audience (tickets were won via an online fan vote), but listening to a few tunes waiting for you fish supper has to be better than staring at the menu for the umpteenth time.

The Streets

In amongst the usual (or unusual) menagerie of jugglers and fire breathers, you’ll find the most basic and humble of street giggers – the busker.

But solo artists, classical quartets and pop combos have cottoned on to this and cottoned on to the benefits of utilizing the pavements as a performance space.

Playing outside Currys on a Tuesday afternoon might not have the glamour or kudos or the 02 Arena, but you’re guaranteed a massive – even if only passing – audience. Even Bon Jovi and Tom Jones have busked from time to time.

The Rooftop – OK, so the Beatles got there first, but subsequent rooftop performers have included Bon Jovi and U2. Is it a bird? Is it plane? No, it’s a band belting out a few tunes on top of an abandoned warehouse.


Now you can mellow out to the strains of a singer/songwriter in between your Saturday afternoon spin cycles.  There’s even a launderette in London that has converted its premises to accommodate the regular strumming of a local band.

On a Bus

Public transport is a soul deadening affair at the best (or rather, worst) of times.  So rather than staring vacantly out the window or trying to stifle the unpleasant aroma emanating from the OAP in front, why not strike up an impromptu performance and get everybody clapping/cheering/singing along.  It’s not often you get a mini-concert for the price of a First Bus ticket.

Art galleries

Performers and bands, especially up-and-coming ones, are becoming savvy to the potential and benefits of playing at art galleries, allowing punters to enjoy the strains of an acoustic guitar as background to their appreciation of the latest Damon Hurst.


Charity shops like Oxford occasionally play host to bands and performers, and some record shops have even established their own stages for regular in-store gigs.


Even call centres or conference meeting rooms might be higher up the list than this potential candidate for entertaining the masses, but this normal peaceful final resting place has played host to a few popsters over the years, including American folk band Bon Iver and The Flaming Lips.

Have you attended a gig in a bizarre location or been in a band that has?

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James Duval is an IT specialist who lives in Manchester.  When you can prise him away from his Xbox you can find him enjoying his other passions – cruising his motorbike and prowling good gigs across the country. He regularly writes for Keel e Conference amongst others.