Who's the biggest band you've seen in a small-ish venue?

I think the band who are now a bajillion times bigger than when I first saw them was Muse. It was a pretty life-landmarking gig. I’d sort of discovered them by accident by messaging Matt via Aol Instant Messenger as he was a fan of some bands I liked. We got talking and he invited me to see them play a gig at Exeter Cavern.

This was just before my GCSEs and over 50 miles from where I lived but I managed to go, and I interviewed them before the show and asked what the music they were listening to was - it was Tom Waits! So I had my introduction to Tom Waits, and then got to see this unsigned (or just signed, I can’t quite remember) band play to about 50 or so people. They were brilliant and the rest is history, especially as seeing that show and watching them grow is why I decided to turn my email fanzine into what became DiS. A lot of our early contributors were Muse fans from their forum.

Anyway, I’m asking you to brag about who you saw either as they were starting out or maybe playing a secret gig, because next week is Independent Venue Week, so let’s celebrate those shows that are etched in your memory.

More info about IVW over here http://drownedinsound.com/in_depth/4151578-your-playlist-guide-to-independent-venue-week-2018


I saw placebo at the zodiac in Oxford about 20 years ago and it was a tiny venue and they’d just got huge on the back of a recently released Nancy Boy. Was a fun gig.

Patti Smith in Academy 3, maybe. I don’t have a great memory for gigs :confused:


Saw The Kaiser Chiefs in Leicester Sumo when they were called Parma or Parva or something along those lines. No idea what they were like, the venue was very small though, I don’t think they used the main gig space if I remember right but at most there would have been 50 people there.

Saw the Libertines in The Charlotte in my first week of uni in Leicester too before they became big.

Of bands I actually like, The Melvins in the Black Box in Belfast. Think it holds maybe 200? I’m useless at estimating crowd sizes

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Probably Arctic Monkeys at Jabez Clegg in Manchester. I think at the time they’d just put out a single independently - possibly Fake Tales of San Francisco.

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Radiohead at 93 Feet East, 10 years ago (almost) to the day.

I saw them at Head of Steam in Newcastle when I think they were still just hype based on the Myspace page.

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I saw Therapy? In a pub in my hometown in '92.
Saw Mogwai upstairs at The Riverside in Newcastle '98.

Cast at The Dublin Castle in Camden just before they released their debut single - not much to brag about really.

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Faith No More, secret gig in a tiny Glasgow venue (100?) just before King For A Day came out, just after Jim Martin left. Roddy collapsed on stage and landed about 6 inches from me, he didn’t look well…


Foals at The Works in Kingston in about 2007. It was part of Banquet’s indie night New Slang (which I think is still going) which got some fairly big bookings but Folas are the only one I remember that became proper festival headliner big.

Dillinger Escape Plan
Old Blue Last
£6 OTD/£5 NUS

obviously it cost more than that but stop trying to spoil the joke


Radiohead at Nottingham Trent Uni Students’ Union in 1993.

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Arctic Monkeys at the Attic in Manchester want to say December 04 the bassist amp exploded 2 songs in or them at Jabez Clegg in June 2005?

The Courteeners at The Castle in Oldham.

I was queueing for that from about midday. Was in the first 50 people in the queue and eventually got chucked out for starting a fight with some guy who jumped the queue.

Actually it was way earlier than that.

Ryan Adams at the Borderline some years ago was great. IIRC he made up a song on the spot in response to a heckle from @guntrip. Something about Coca Cola?

Seen nick mulvey play to <100 people three or four times.

Forgot a good one (at the time) Simian Mobile Disco and Justice at The Music Box.

Hah, I also saw Coldplay pretty much open the other stage at Glastonbury in 2000. Muse were on very low down that weekend too