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


Ed Sheeran upstairs at the steamboat tavern in Ipswich


Calling bullshit. The barfly still has a roof


Yes it was.

By the time I came along the Croydon ‘scene’ had gone downhill a bit😀 so the family move to Nottingham helped me in my gig going.


I grew up in Plymouth so I saw Muse a fair few times as well, mostly at the Cooperage and up the A38 in the Cavern. My most memorable Cavern gig was Rival Schools there, circa 2002ish. They were as big as they got then, but played the Cavern as a favour to Dave and Pippa who ran it. It was the deafest I’ve ever been after a show. People were talking to me in the car afterwards and I didn’t even know.

Other contenders: Nirvana at Nottingham Poly and then at Rock City, Travis supporting Beth Orton at the Wedgewood Rooms before they had anything out, Kings Of Leon in Temple Bar Music Centre, Nick Cave at Vicar Street, some others I’ll think of immediately after clicking reply


Just remembered Coldplay at Exeter Cavern. I understand they are quite big now.


I’m still waiting for someone to claim they saw the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performing in a phone booth.


When they were first starting out some friends of mine had the same landlord for their rented flat as members of the band Travis. The landlord was a decent sort and a regular gig goer. So they all saw Travis play his back garden BBQ before they had their first hit. I wasn’t there and am quite happy to have missed it.


Was lucky enough to get a ticket to see Deftones when they played the tiny KCL Student Union a few years ago in support of Diamond Eyes.

That was pretty special.


Winter of 1981 (I think), Thomas Dolby at the Porterhouse in Retford. Post release of the Europa and the Pirate Twins 12" but prior to the Golden Age of Wireless LP.

May 1990, The Sugarcubes at what I thought was the Coogee Bay Hotel in Sydney, but looking at setlist.fm seems it may have been the Enmore Theatre in Newtown. Anyway, definitely the summer of 1990 in Sydney. Before Bjork became BIG, obv.

Any sources for confirming when and where a gig took place other than setlist.fm?


Ryan Adams secret show in a pub basement in Belfast. It was awesome.:



Nothing ridiculously small for me. But the few which spring to mind that I saw that played small venues compared to where they ended up are …

Verve at the (original) cathouse in Glasgow. Storm in heaven tour, pretty sure oasis supported (but I’ve no recollection of them). Verve were great.

Pulp at king tuts

White stripes at dingwalls

And more recently Ezra furman in the back room of south street arts centre in reading (80 people, maybe).


The Libertines at Southampton Joiners (250 cap I think) in mid-2002. Hadn’t even got an album out and you could already sense the tension between them.

Brand New at Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms. Lovely time.

Biffy Clyro all over the bloody shop. Frome Cheese & Grain, Cambridge Junction, Reading Fez Club. Basically anywhere they played between mid- and late-2004…


I saw the National at The Hanbury Ballroom in Brighton around the same time (I think, maybe earlier), around the time of Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers. Were about 50 people there I think

Saw Sufjan 3rd on the bill at the Brighton Komedia, Iron and Wine was 2nd

Saw Bowie on a recording of Later in the 90s (Oasis were on the same show) - not sure if that counts?


Ah great shout. I saw The Spice Girls at a Top of the Pops recording, that was pretty tiny.

Billie, The Honeyz and The Lighthouse Family were also ‘performing’.


Arab Strap in King Tut’s supporting The Delagados and Magoo. It was their “first ever” gig (maybe that’s true) and was recorded for the Evening Session.

Also saw Alex Kapranos when he was in The Blisters in a wee bar in the Strathclyde Union in 1997.


Nils Frahm and Ólafur Arnalds both in the Holy Trinity Church in Leeds (not on the same bill, mind) - although we did promote both those shows, so not sure if it counts!

saw Sigur Rós at City Varieties in Leeds, just as they were breaking through in 2001 - still probably my favourite gig of all time tbh. Explosions in the Sky at Brudenell in Leeds in 2005(?) was pretty special too.


Oh I’ve remembered one: Four Tet supported by Explosions in the Sky and Alexis Taylor from Hot Chip (looking at Wiki, I think they’d released their debut but this was before The Warning). This was at Cambridge Soul Tree, as it was then. Weird choice of venue.


I saw Velvet Revolver back in 2008 play Liverpool University, whilst not at their peak it was amazing/wierd seeing Slash playing in such a small venue.


saw polyphonic spree in one of the smaller academies, but thought better of it


Joanna Newsom at Birmingham Glee Club in 2003 (had to leave early to get a train and have never forgiven myself)
Biffy at Brum Academy 3 probably also in 2003, and headlining Truck Festival in 2005
Death Cab at the Rescue Rooms touring Transatlanticism
Also, supported Frank Turner once at Junktion 7