St. Louis just hasn’t been getting as many shows as it used to get. But I don’t get it, I mean we have plenty of nice venues around, most shows I have gone to are usually packed with dedicated/diehard fans. It never helps that some of the best places to go see a show have closed down (Mississippi Nights, The Galaxy, Creepy Crawl, etc.) But that being said we still have some great places to check out concerts:
- Cicero’s: Located in the Delmar Loop/University City area Cicero’s is one of a few great locations to play down in the Loop area. Not quite in the heart of the area, its kind of tucked into the corner, but this 210 capacity venue is attached to one of the better restaurants in the area as well as well. The venue is located in the back-end of the restaurant secluded from the rest of the crowd so as not to disturb the patrons there having a nice dinner with their family or co-workers. Upon walking in the stage is at your immediate right, it’s about knee/thigh high depending on your height. To the left is the dance floor and depending on the show there might be a few tables in the back to where you can sit, relax, enjoy the show along with some food and beverage. The bar is on the left side of the venue back holds the sound guy and a small area for merch (for the smaller shows) and to the right there is a shelf that runs along the side of the wall with bar stools setup again for your viewing pleasure. This area is used for merch during some of the bigger shows. The sound of the venue is amazing, my only concerns are the lighting could use a little help and well smoking is still allowed so being in a small room with people who smoke usually turns out bad not only for the non-smokers but also for the bands themselves. Fix those two things and you got a perfect venue for well any band really that is just getting started or looking to play a more intimate show. It is an all ages venue unless otherwise noted, so by all means if you are ever in the area grab a bite to eat the food is delicious and then catch a show! (4/5) www.ciceros-stl.com
- Blueberry Hill: Just down the street from Cicero’s and yet another restaurant with an amazing menu and an array of beer choices, Blueberry Hill has much more of a rock-a-billy feel to it. The great thing about this place is that there are two venues in the basement area one in the far right side is the Duck Room and is home to a monthly visit from Chuck Berry (which sells out in seconds every time). And well once you walk down the stairs you are greeted by (you guessed it) Duck pictures galore, I’m talkin Darkwing Duck, Donald Duck, Hewey, Dewey and Louie pictures, magazines models just everything. The stage takes up most the entire front of the room which holds again probably 350 people maybe more (I’m bad at estimating and haven’t checked the fire marshall sign for capacity). The bar is directly behind you, there are tables all around which move for some of the bigger shows. Lighting isn’t too bad could be worse, could be better though too. The background of the stage could be fixed up though unless you want to stare at painted bricks (those just ‘ look that great in pictures). But the sound is pretty descent I actually enjoy going to concerts there, they just don’t have too many that I am interested in. The venue however is 21+ which to me is fine because well no obnoxious kids walking around like they own the place, but the music is usually geared toward an older crowd anyway so it works. On the other side of BH you have the Elvis Room, guess what that’s decorated with? Another awesome little venue no stage, holds about 200 people, very small, very intimate, excellent for shows though. The sound is great, the lighting isn’t too bad for what the venue is there is a bar in the back left corner. . makes for a good venue for like a punk rock show. Definitely a place to head to again for dinner and a concert, even if there are no shows going on it is a pretty happening place! Duck Room (4.5/5), Elvis Room (5/5) www.blueberryhill.com/events
- Fubar: Sticking with the smaller venues, Fubar is and all ages, non-smoking venue tucked away off of Grand Blvd. nearby the Fox Theater. Fubar holds about 500, as you walk in there are two entrances one to the 21+ bar, they occasionally have small acoustic performances there, and don’t fret smokers you can step in here between sets (so long as 21 or older) and smoke if needed. The other is The main venue with the stage to your immediate right, there is a small standing room area (sort of like the old creepy crawl) just much smaller. The bar is in the back with pool table couches, tables to sit at heavily guarded by one of the workers to make sure no underage kids get back there and no alcohol goes out. It’s nice to see a bar that goes in full force to prevent underage drinking. The stage is about knee high if that with a nice curtain back drop, which allows enough room to store drums behind so as not to have to carry them over the crowd when its packed in there. The lighting is decent enough, though they could be brighter and the sound is phenomenal, it is the perfect venue for a metal or punk rock concert. I guess its a good thing the owners are metal heads and punk lovers! Even though the stage lighting could use a bit of an upgrade it doesn’t take away from the viewing experience, there are plenty of places to grab a bite to eat before heading to a show, a definite must go on your visit to St. Louis. (5/5) www.fubarstl.com
- The Firebird: Just down the road from Fubar on Olive road is a tiny bar called the Firebird. You can literally drive right past it if you aren’t careful (they really need a big sign or something). It really doesn’t help though that the entrance isn’t on the main road but on the opposite side, so unless you know where it is keep your eyes peeled. Once you find it though you are in for a treat, with a 150 capacity this is one of the more intimate venues St. Louis has to offer. Don’t let the size of the venue fool you though because this place knows what they are doing when it comes to Stage Lights, Sound, they have it all taken care of. The stage is about knee high, as you walk in you will see it on your left, and its pretty huge, could easily fit a 6-piece band on there. As I said the lighting for the stage is some of the best in the city (when it comes to small venues). Sound is very crisp you can hear every note as it was meant to be heard, they really have some top of the line audio equipment and a sound guy that knows how to use it. Further back is the bar area furnished with tables and booths a nice place to hang out before or after a show. Usually The Firebird is known for booking more Indie Rock bands but they branch out to everything from Metal to Hip-Hop to Punk. Though no matter what your taste you are always gonna have a good time if you catch a show here. (5/5) www.firebirdstl.com
- Off Broadway: As stated in the name this venue is literally off Broadway on Lemp Ave. It’s a really nice venue, low stage, balcony in the back, bar to the left and an outdoor patio for smokers. There is this amazing deer antler chandelier hanging from the tall ceiling, though I really wish it provided more light. However in many of the reviews I have posted that I wish the lighting were better, this is more of a photographers standpoint, its easier to get pictures if there is a little more lighting. I’m not talking lights on all the way just a little bit brighter. But the lighting here as in the past few venues provides for a very intimate venture for the concert goer. Shows here just seem to stand out sometimes more than others, maybe its just the setting of the venue, I mean everything about it is very relaxed. I recall one show there was a group of artists drawing throughout the show during each of the bands (granted this doesn’t happen often) I just thought it was really cool that it was happening. The inside reminds me of an old tavern, wooden bar, wooden walls/floors, but has really great sound. Off Broadway hosts a good variety of music from country rock to acoustic to experimental rock to metal. For the drinkers they have quite the selection to choose from, and if you are looking for a little comfort there is a couch I believe up in the balcony so you can enjoy a show, a nice beer and relax all in one setting. Definitely a place to check out if you are in the area. (4/5) www.offbroadwaystl.com
There are many other venues in and around St. Louis including the Grammaphone, Lemmons, The Pageant, Pops Nightclub, The Gargoyle, Just Bills, and I could go on for a while, and not that they aren’t worth checking out, but 2 of them are our biggest venues that most people know about, 2 of them are nice small venues but hold mostly local shows, and 2 of them I just haven’t been to to review. Keep an eye out for reviews of these places in the future as well as some of the places I have yet to mention! Also keep youre eyes and ears posted for a new venue to possibly open up in the Laclede’s Landing area sometime in the near future, it is supposed to be an old warehouse turned concert venue to replace Mississippi Nights. Hopefully something will happen with that soon, until then there are plenty of shows coming up. . we hope to see you at a few!!