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Where To Go For The Best Live Music

November 17, 2013

There really is no place to experience people like a concert—the sounds, the smells, the sights, live music gives you a look into a place like nothing else.

Here are five of the top worldwide cities for live music. Take a peak and start planning your next trip; just don’t turn into a groupie.

Seattle

Once the heart of the 90s grunge movement, Seattle has grown out of its flannel and acid wash jeans to become a star in the new music scene. From hip hop (think Macklemore) to alternative (Death Cab for Cutie), Seattle has just about any kind of live music you could want, and the coffee to go with it.

Walk around downtown Seattle on any night of the week, and you’ll experience live music in just about any genre. Highlights include the Crocodile (formerly the Crocodile Café), where almost every major band to come out of Seattle got their start. After a two-year closure, the Crocodile is now the epicenter of Seattle’s growing hip-hop scene. The Showbox, located right across the street from the iconic Pike Place Market, opened its doors in 1939 and is one of the larger local venues. And with bars just feet from the stage, you will never be thirsty and you never know what will happen.

Tokyo

The Asian powerhouse is home to a wide variety of music and offers a unique blend of modern and classical music. In fact, it’s known for having one of the world’s best concert scenes. Music venues in Japanese are translated to “live houses”, and the shows generally start much earlier than Americans are used to—typically around 7pm. That means concertgoers are filling bars for the after party by 10pm.

A great hub for live music is the Shimokitazawa neighborhood, flooded every night by the young and hip. “Live houses” on nearly every corner cater to the area’s popular indie music.

In Ochanomizu, you’ll find the world’s most dense collection of guitar shops and musicians roaming the streets. Ask around to find the best underground show of the night—who knows what you will find. No matter what, concerts in Tokyo tend to be very reasonable, with tickets normally around 3000 yen (30 US dollars).

London

Music tourism in London is big business, with more than a quarter of the city’s millions of tourists saying they came for the music. And there are a lot of reasons people are flocking across the pond—its music scene is virtually unmatched in variety and volume.

London is the capital of music festivals. Hard Rock Calling brings in some of the biggest rock groups each year, like Bruce Springsteen and Kasabian. Wireless highlights some big names in hip-hop and rap at the famous Hyde Park. The Notting Hill Carnival brings in more than one million people each summer to listen from DJs and electronic music from around the world.

For smaller venues, The Old Blue Last has been called the coolest pub in the world and boasts one of the best playlists in Britain. With eclectic décor and unique performers each night, it is definitely worth a stop. Plus, most nights are free or very inexpensive. Another favorite venue is Half Moon, which has hosted some of Britain’s most iconic performers.

Nashville

It seems sacrilegious to exclude “Music City” from this list. While most people automatically think of honky-tonk country music when they hear about Nashville, the city has a thriving music scene for just about any genre.

With more than 120 live music venues, there is never a dull moment on the Nashville scene. Of course, a visit to Nashville wouldn’t be complete without a show at the Grand Ole Opry, which got its start in 1925 and quickly became known as country’s most famous stage. There are performances every Friday and Saturday night and additional Tuesday night shows during the spring and summer months.

For a more intimate setting, take a trip to the famous Bluebird Café in the Green Hills. With room for just 100 people, twice nightly performances honor and recognize songwriters and not as much the crazy country crowd. Better known performers usually hit the stage around 9pm, but spots fill up quickly—make sure to make a reservation before you roll into town. For fans of new artists, don’t forget to check out Jack White’s Third Man Records store!

Oslo

Perhaps the least predictable city on the list is the Scandinavian superstar and popular tourist attraction. With free music shows at museums and pubs across the city, Oslo is where it is at.

The Grønland neighborhood is home to the city’s cheapest beer and a variety of laid-back musical clubs. Head toward Youngstorget for alternative rock at venues such as Café Mono and Revolver.

Oslo has a hopping jazz scene, but forget your visions of retirees and tired music. Venues like Parkteatret offer an intimate atmosphere for the slightly older, but still hip, crowd. Blå is considered one of the best jazz clubs in the world, but also takes a swing at salsa or swing music, whatever gets the crowd moving.

No matter where in the world you travel, one thing is sure—if you hunt for live music, you will never be bored. So get your concert goers together and plan your next trip on Trekeffect.

-Michelle Kaiser

Michelle Kaiser