Music

The 21 weirdest gig venues ever

What makes a gig special? Is it purely the quality of the bands you've come to see? Or is it also, in part at least, down to the appropriateness of the setting?

This list suggests that it's not the latter - as far as live music venues go, it seems anywhere can be made "appropriate".

Ain't no altitude high enough, no coal mine deep enough, no oil rig or ice-continent remote enough. If it's in the general vicinity of planet earth, you can bet your life some idiot has rigged up a PA in it and belted out a few tunes. 

Browse our gallery to discover the most ludicrous live music venues the human race has ever devised...

  • The 21 weirdest gig venues ever

    1. At the Berlin Wall

    As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Berlin wall coming down, it's well worth remembering something more profound and important than mere civil rights: David Hasselhoff was there! In the weeks after the initial dismantling, The Hoff was hoisted high into the night air by a cherrypicker to knock out a rendition of his 1989 hit Looking For Freedom in a piano key scarf and light-up bomber jacket.
    This video captures it in all its glory. 

    [Image: Action Press/Rex]

  • The 21 weirdest gig venues ever 1

    2. At the Pyramids of Gizeh

    Electronic music pioneer Jean Michel Jarre performed a 31-song set at the Pyramids of Gizeh on New Year's Eve 1999. 120,000 people welcomed in the new Millennium with the Frenchman, witnessing a sensational light show complete with images projected onto the ancient constructions. While it's certainly one of the few settings on earth where the phrase "Hello Wembley!" sounds a bit puny, the pyramid show isn't actually Jarre's biggest gig. Two years earlier he played to an estimated crowd of 3.5 million in Moscow. Just imagine the queue for the toilets.

     

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    3. In space

    In 2013, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded a cover of David Bowie's Space Oddity and made a video, all while aboard the International Space Station. Given that the venue is nigh-on impossible to get to, we know we're stretching it by calling this a "gig". Still, Hadfield was responding to a request on Reddit that he play the song, so we consider his video the next best thing. Watching it is better than being there, too: there's no bar on the ISS and you can't go out for a fag.

     

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    4. At the Houses of Parliament

    Bondi Beach, The Great Wall Of China, an igloo; Fatboy Slim has performed at some weird places around the world, but none can be weirder than the Houses Of Parliament. Last year, big Norm DJed at the seat of British government when he supported Engineering student Bryce Moore, winner of a national competition to perform at the House Of Commons' terrace bar. Cue loads of MPs dancing badly.

    [Image: Rex]

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    5. On Wall Street

    You have to hand it to Rage Against The Machine. Principled, articulate and angry, they're starting to look like the last time rock music stood up to The Man. Specifically, it's moments like the 2000 video for Sleep Now In The Fire, where they pitched up on the steps of the New York Stock Exchange to protest against the Capitalist status quo, that make them heroic. RATM were carted off and the bankers didn't listen. Maybe they should have done, eh?

    [Image: YouTube]

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    6. 33,000 Feet in the air

    In 2007, Jamiroquai set a new world record by performing in a customised Boeing 757 jet at 33,000 feet. It was a record that stood until 2010, when it was broken by a James Blunt gig at 42,000 feet. The higher you go, the worse the music seems to get. God knows what waits at 50,000. Enya and Kenny G? 

    [Image: YouTube]

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    7. At the bottom of a salt mine

    It's not just Jamiroquai going Deeper Underground, mind. In 2007, Queens Of The Stone Age performed at the bottom of a salt mine nearly a kilometer under Sondershausen, Germany. As you can see in this 360˚ photo, the 300-strong audience all had to wear hard hats and overalls. "Now we're officially the most underground rock band in the world," quipped Josh Homme at the time

    [Image: Rex]

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    8. At Pompeii

    In 1971, Pink Floyd played four nights in the 2,000-year-old amphitheatre at Pompeii. Footage from those nights, combined with footage from two nights at Paris's Studio Europasonor, make up the film Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii. Though pompous stuff, the Pompeii stunt can barely hold a candle to the band's later tour theatrics.

    [Image: Wikipedia]

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    8. On a bus

    In 2007, fans in Winnipeg were alerted to an impromptu White Stripes gig happening that afternoon. 20-odd message board users who arrived at a designated meeting point were invited to board a bus, which picked up Jack and Meg at the next stop. Hotel Yorba from the subsequent guerilla gig is online here.

    [Image: Rex]

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    10. In Antarctica

    Last year, Metallica became the first band to perform on every continent. Lars and co. played to an audience of 120 people under a perspex dome adjacent to the Argentine heliport of Carlini. We understand there would have been more people present, but there was a delay on the Southbound Northern Line.

    [Image: Rex]

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    11. In prison

    At the beginning of 1969, Johnny Cash was in the wilderness. He hadn't had a hit single in five years, and he was in the grips of a huge cocaine problem. Two concerts turned his career (and life) around - at Folsom Prison in January, and San Quentin in February - helping to define his image as the original bad boy of rock'n'roll. The gigs set the format for other bands seeking infamy, most memorably when the Sex Pistols performed at Chelmsford Prison in 1976.

    [Image: Rex]

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    12. On the Great Wall of China

    It's one of the finest and most mind-boggling achievements in the history of the human race. We are, of course, talking about Boyz II Men's 1991 debut single Motownphilly. That they performed it on top of the Great Wall Of China in 2004 as part of a line-up that included Alicia Keys and Cyndi Lauper is poignantly fitting. Bravo.

    [Image: Rex]

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    13. On a cruise ship

    Music on cruise ships is nothing new. Head to the ballroom for your dinner of lukewarm buffet slop and you can't move for Elvis impersonators and third rate Lesley Garretts. However, earlier this year 90s icons Weezer took the idea of a cruise to the next level. The band commandeered the good ship Carnival Fascination (pictured left, in all her seafaring majesty) and took it on a five night trip from Florida to the Bahamas. With a devastatingly awesome line-up of bands on board, of course.

    [Image: Carnival]

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    14. 303 metres below sea level

    It's amazing to think that, in the dark days of 2006 before Adele had taken over the entire world with her relentlessly vanilla balladeering, Katie Melua was Britain's biggest-selling female artist. Of course, 2006 was also the year that the Statoil Troll A gas rig turned ten. Naturally, the Norwegian firm plunged Melua to the very bottom of it to perform a few songs by way of celebration. A truly historic moment, and surely we all know exactly where we were when we heard the news.

    [Image: Rex]

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    15. In a lift

    Here's a question for you - is it better to be trapped alone in a lift with an earnest singer-songwriter who is pouring their heart out over an acoustic guitar, or squashed up against a seven-piece orchestra? In 2007, Arcade Fire performed Neon Bible in a Paris elevator for La Blogothèque. We'll get the stairs to save on the awkwardness.

    [Image: Blogothèque]

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    16. At Mount Rushmore

    We can see the logic here: if you're a rock band called The Presidents Of The United States Of America, then why wouldn't you perform in front of several Presidents of the United States of America carved in rock? There must have been record amounts of high-fiving at the MTV meeting where they dreamt this one up. Watch the full 1996 TV special here.

    [Image: YouTube]

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    17. On the back of a truck

    In August 2011, the notorious Westboro Baptist Church picketed a Foo Fighters gig in Kansas City. The band responded by turning up in disguise on the back of a truck to play the song Keep It Clean, which the protesters enjoyed, unaware that the song was preaching tolerance and love. The power of music, eh?

    [Image: YouTube]

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    18. On a London roof

    In January 1969, The Beatles played their first show in five years. The short set, delivered on an unsuspecting public from the roof of their Apple offices in Marylebone, would also be their final public performance. The whole story is told in the epic Let It Be documentary. It's also worth remembering Eric Idle's legendary Beatles parody The Rutles, who had their own rooftop show

    [Image: YouTube]

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  • The 21 weirdest gig venues ever 18

    19. Inside a soundproof perspex box

    In April 2013, Little Boots performed inside a soundproof perspex box. The crowd of 300 fans were able to listen in via headphones, in order to faithfully recreate the sensation of being at a normal gig. Alternatively, the band could have got out of the soundproof perspex box, therefore doing away with the need for the audience to wear headphones. You do have to wonder what the point is sometimes.

    [Image: YouTube]

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    20. In a disused fish factory

    In 2006, Sigur Ros took over a disused herring oil factory in Djupavik, Iceland. The band performed and filmed a series of free concerts for their film Heima. Seriously though guys, a herring oil factory. STINKY!

    [Image: YouTube]

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    21. In a cemetery

    Los Angeles' Hollywood Forever cemetery is the final resting place of many studio greats. Since 2002 it has hosted outdoor film screenings and concerts. In 2009, Bon Iver performed there at dawn (doors opened at midnight, with the band onstage at 5.50am) while two years later The Flaming Lips played two nights under the wry title Everyone You Know Someday Will Die. We hope one of them used the opening line, "Dead in here tonight, innit?"

    [Image: Rex]

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