So you’ve gone and booked yourself a concert to see your favourite band, but you’ve never heard of the place they’re playing. What’s a Shipping Forecast I hear you ask? Why is there only a Parr Street Studio 2? I’m here to tell you what to expect wherever you go in the city, so you arrive prepared and ready for what could be one of the best nights of your life.
I’m just going to get this one out of the way for the sake of it being one of the most well-known landmarks in the city. Only the big guns play at the Echo, your Rihanna’s, Adele’s and Justin Bieber’s that sell out stadium tours within seconds. You know the drill. The Echo houses nearly 9,000 people in a huge dome by the docks, it’s essentially your typical arena. Big area, lots of seats, very expensive booze and incredibly overpriced food. Prepare for lots of screaming, and a lot of breathing room when you’re standing.
O2 Academy Liverpool
The venue of choice for a lot of rock and indie bands, the standard O2 venue found in almost every major city in the UK, but does it’s job solidly and efficiently. The atmosphere is dark and the dim lighting makes for a night you wont forget. The academy actually has two halls inside of it. One slightly bigger than the other and the bigger one has a balcony to watch the stage, but the feel of the place is replicated in them both. The O2 is a place where you can lose your mind to the band/artist playing and really engross in the concert. Expect really sticky floors and beers flying over your head and drenching you in alcohol, speaking of which it is about nightclub price for a pint. But at the end of the day, its an O2 venue, you know it’s going to be solid.
Liverpool University Guild of Students
Recently coming back to the scene after a £13.8 million refurbishment, the Guild is like marmite in my humble opinion. You either love it or you hate it. The guild is a strange shape and you can access the stage by walking around the crowd and watching from the side, which is fine but the venue doesn’t feel as compact as others on the list. This mixed with the bright white walls increases visibility of those around you and takes you away from the experience. That said, the venue has a capacity of 2,300 and I have had some cracking nights in the University of Liverpool building, seeing bands such as Catfish and the Bottlemen and The Wombats rock out on the Guild’s stage. Alcohol price is similar to the O2, and has a balcony for disabled users and people who prefer to watch from the heights.
East Village Arts Club
The venue for the up-and-coming and the hipsters in the city. The arts club offers a unique experience in an intimate environment where you can truly appreciate the band that plays there. The Arts Club is a stepping stone in the eyes of artists, but it’s always a good night. Atmospheres change with band to band, some being stand still and admire sort of gigs, whilst others are throw your beer around and go nuts. Odds are if the band you’re seeing is playing at the Arts Club, you will most likely meet them so charge your phone and pack a sharpie.
Parr Street Studio2
Probably the most interesting venue on this entire list and without good reason. The studio is built for music, because it was. Bands such as Coldplay, The Smiths, Bjork and the absolutely iconic Atomic Kitten have recorded albums in the beautiful establishment and truth be told I’ve never heard a band sound so well than within the walls of Parr Street Studio2. Interestingly they are the only venue on this list that give you glass cups instead of plastic, so that should speak volumes about the elegancy of the place. This isn’t your jump around and smash things like a reckless psychopath sort of concert, this is one where you sit back on their luxury leather couches and actually appreciate the concept of music. Beautiful venue for the music lover in you.
The furthest away distance wise from Liverpool City Centre on this list, situated past the Royal Liverpool Hospital in Kensington. The ballroom was formerly known as the Locarno and have boasted recent acts such as Foals and The Last Shadow Puppets, meaning this is no throwaway music venue. the place also hosts boxing and MMA fights, so it’s pretty bilingual in its approach to entertainment. The venue can house 1,960 people and offers something a little different compared to everywhere else on this list.
The Shipping Forecast
The true home of bands finding their feet, the gorgeous Shipping Forecast doubles up as a restaurant, but it’s in the basement where you’ll find the nitty gritty of concert venues. The area where the bands play is tiny, and there isn’t even a stage for them to play on. Just a tiny square between some pillars where the instruments lie. The support beams also obstruct your view of the bands playing and the bar is small and limited, but that doesn’t stop this from being one of the best venues in the city. If you find yourself a natural talented band they can carry the room, when I saw The Xcerts here they were able to play an acoustic set without even plugging anything in. The Shipping Forecast is fantastic for the underground crowd and I highly recommend it.
The Philharmonic Hall
The venue of choice for the older and more cultural of Liverpool’s music faithful. The Philharmonic prides itself on its Orchestral roots and puts on shows that appeal more to those who enjoy the finer arts of the music industry such as choir and opera. The hall is 100% seated and even has an orchestra pit within. For people who enjoy Classic FM and in April Rick Astley is playing there, if you fancied getting your groove on.
Most, if not all students and young people know Bumper. Tuesday nights anyone? Well did you also know they double up as a gig venue for small bands? The stage is small but the booze is cheap in comparison to the rest of the venues on this list. Bumper is a decent night and does what it says on the tin really, plus you get the occasional DJ set on club nights with guests such as Two Door Cinema Club which is pretty cool. They also change the comment on the front of their venue weekly, so its enjoyable just to walk past if anything.
Remembering The Kazimier
You can’t mention gigs venues in Liverpool without mentioning one of the former most iconic clubs in the city, The Kazimier or as it was affectionately known, The Kaz. It held 450 people and was known as one of the best medium-sized venues in the city, known for its crazy club nights and mental gigs. The Kaz unfortunately had to close it’s doors as the Wolstenholme Square area where it is situated prepares to undergo a £40 million refurbishment, with residential and retail buildings being built on to it.
So that’s it! My rundown of the gig venues in the city. If I missed anywhere important make sure you let me know in the comments below.
Follow me on Twitter or Instagram!