Concert Venues: Small Clubs vs. Arenas

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The title of Music Slut comes with many responsibilities, and being a concert addict is one of them. Did I make up this list of responsibilities myself? Yes. Do I happily abide by them? Oh yes.

Luckily for me, Los Angeles has no shortage of concert venue options, from the historic Troubadour to the atmospheric outdoor Greek Theatre to the newly re-opened Forum. A true music slut must have a taste of them all.

Until recently, I’d really only spent my time at small intimate venues. The average capacity of the clubs I frequent is typically less than 1,000 people. Yes, I can still crave intimacy despite my lifestyle choices. I guess I’m just a hopeless romantic at heart.

But last week, I attended my first show at The Forum (capacity: 17,505) to see The 1975. My arena cherry has been popped. Now I’m here to weigh the pros and cons of small clubs versus large stadiums to determine whether size really does matter.

1) Proximity To The Band
Needless to say, small capacity venues win in this area. Most clubs with a capacity of around 500 people have no barricades between the audience and the artist – the ideal set up for the creepy fangirl to reach out and touch the lead singer or guitarist with no shame.

However, I will give an honorable mention to arenas with close-up screens. Even the poor souls in the nosebleed seats can feel close enough to touch the artist from the view of the close-up cameras.

2) Ticket Prices
Once again, small venues take the cake on this one. Most shows at clubs like The Echo (capacity: 350) and The Roxy (capacity: 500) average a budget friendly price of $10-$20. Compare that to the $100 ticket that most stadiums demand for a significantly more distant view of the stage, and there is no contest.

3) Audience Interaction
This one might be a draw. In small clubs, the overall experience is an equal give-and-take between the artist and audience. The electricity flows from the crowd to the performer and back again. Hardly any musician can face an apathetic audience 10 feet away and still be excited to perform, and no audience can be enthusiastic about a lackluster performance. It’s a cycle of energy that circulates between everyone in the room.

In defense of arenas, there is a particular magic to hearing thousands of people sing lyrics back to the band so loud that it drowns out the lead singer. Also, those “lighter in the air” moments are much more encompassing when the arena becomes illuminated from floor to ceiling with the glow of cell phone lights.

Clearly, my preference for intimate clubs is not something that will be so easily deterred by a one night stand with The Forum, but my concert addiction isn’t a habit I plan to kick anytime soon. They say the first step to rehabilitation is to admit you have a problem. I admit that I have an addiction, but I’ll never say it’s problem.

[All photos are my own, unless otherwise stated.]

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