By: Eli Stem
Sadly, sometimes just scoring tickets for your favorite artists is not enough to create a memorable experience. Between rambunctious or inactive crowds, technical difficulties or venue limitations, a number of factors can lead to a disappointing show. There have been many times throughout history where a show has made a venue, however, more often than not; the venue is what makes that show live in history.
We’ve compiled a short list of reputable venues that are guaranteed to give you a life-changing experience no matter what artist is performing.
When conjuring images of modern architectural wonders, Webster Hall might not quite fit the mold. Blending in fairly seamlessly into the rest of New York’s cityscape, the brick building does not seem all that impressive from first look. But heading inside and diving into the history of the building provides all that is necessary to qualify this venue as one of the most important concert halls in the country.
Constructed all the way back in 1886, Webster Hall was originally host to much more than concerts including much-important labor union rallies of the time, weddings, and military functions for the ever-shifting political social landscape of the hub of America. As the times changed, so did the venue itself, expanding to add a recording studio and solidifying it as the concert hall it primarily is today.
As stated before, the history is what makes this venue as the recording studio has housed a number of legendary artists creating music within its walls such as Ray Charles, Elvis Pressley and Frank Sinatra. During the rock and roll age the venue became a showcase venue for emerging artists like Prince, Aerosmith and KISS.
Staying true to this part of history, Webster Hall remains an active site for up and coming indie and alternative rock groups while also adding a splash of the growing hip-hop world. Catching a number of New York rap artists are sure to lead to a show of a lifetime, as they’ve known to grow into parties of epic proportions that police have had to come in to shut it down.
Ryman Auditorium – Nashville, TN
Sticking with the historical theme, we find ourselves in the home of country music, Nashville. Much like Webster Hall, Ryman Auditorium’s construction dates the whole way back into the late 1800s as a passion project of riverboat captain Thomas Ryman and reverend Sam Jones to bring the people of Nashville together in a place of religion and music.
Although the religious aspects of the construction have never vanished, the structure as it stands today still resembles an impressive Church-like edifice; the musical side quickly took over the building. This lead to first name change of the building, as it shifted from the Union Gospel Tabernacle to the Grand Ole Opry House, a name that resonates with all country music fans. During its time as the Grand Ole Opry House, the venue itself did incredible wonders to help popularize country music and shape much of Nashville into the famous musical city it is today. It helped give rise to country loving city it is today, sprouting from it the large number of “honky tonk” bars that tourists and locals still frequent to this day.
After an over thirty year stint inside the venue, the Grand Ole Opry felt it had become an entity of its own and decided to construct their own new venue in which to take place. This led to a period of dormancy for the venue and many feared it would be the end of the historical auditorium. However, in the late 80s and early 90s, the Gaylord Entertainment Group recognized the historical importance of this structure and was sure not to let the soul of Nashville die. After a number of renovations, the historic hall was restored to status being worthy of modern day shows while the artists who would come to perform there helped to keep the historical importance alive.
Along with performing there, a number of country legends also had their memorial services held within, such as Waylon Jennings, Chet Atkins, and Johnny Cash. Modern country stars have kept the tradition going with artists such as Darius Rucker, Sheryl Crow and Vince Gill gracing the stage. And although the auditorium has always been a country staple, in later years artists of other genres have recognized its importance, with the Foo Fighters and Wu Tang Clan making stops here as well.
When you hear Stubbs and Texas, it is common for the mind to wander to the famous and delicious bar-b-q of the state. While you’re not wrong for letting your hunger get the best of you, this is not the extent of Stubbs capabilities. If you didn’t know, the world famous sauce also garners its own restaurant and is actually where it got its start.
Christopher B. Stubbfield, better known as Stubb, got his cooking start early on in his life by working in restaurant and kitchens in Texas. He honed his craft later in life while serving in the Army during the Korean War, helping to oversee the meal preparations for over ten thousand soldiers. He used the skills he perfected during his time serving to open his first restaurant when he returned to Texas. You might be asking, how does this tie into being a must visit concert venue? Well, Stubb opened his restaurant right across from the county fairgrounds where musical acts would regularly perform, creating the perfect storm of business for himself.
Though his joint originally only contained a jukebox heavy on the blues, Stubb quickly recognized the business opportunity that dinner and a show presented. He started hosting small, in-house musical acts to expand his bar-b-q empire and this grew to musical legend that not even he could have foreseen. During the 70s, the musical scene of the restaurant grew to match the fame of the bar-b-q, even helping launch early shows of Stevie Ray Vaughn. This quickly paved the way for future famed acts to take the small stage, as legends like Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and George Thorogood, who would “play for their dinner.”
The original location in Lubbock where these acts performed is no longer in operation, but the Stubb dynasty continues in the rising musical scene in Austin. The venue has expanded into an outdoor performance area, allowing for more fans and larger musical acts to bring their spin to the modern day interpretation of Stubb’s vision. They have stayed true to bringing more intimate acts and not selling out to the Hollywood glitz and glamor, with an upcoming slate including Sublime, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, and The Mighty O.A.R. This venue truly offers a one-of-kind ambiance, and what’s better than some bar-b-q, brews and blues?