The most unusual gig locations of all time

14 April 2020, 16:33

Red Hot Chili Peppers perform at the Giza Pyramids outside Cairo, March 2019
Red Hot Chili Peppers perform at the Giza Pyramids outside Cairo, March 2019. Picture: Gehad Hamdy/DPA/PA Images

Everyone's looking forward to being able to enjoy live music again. But what are the weirdest places your favourite artists have put on a show

Venues are soooo last year. Here's our list of some of the strangest places bands have performed.

  1. The Great Pyramid Of Giza in Egypt

    How about having one of the Seven Wonders Of The Ancient World as your backdrop? It happened for the Red Hot Chili Peppers on 15 March 2019 when the US band performed 20 songs in front of the Great Pyramid Of Giza - joining the likes of The Grateful Dead and Frank Sinatra among the few artists to have played there. Rather appropriately, guitarist Josh Klinghoffer played a solo piano version of Radiohead's Pyramid Song as the encore.

  2. In the frozen wastes of Antarctica

    In 2013, Metallica made the Guinness Book Of World Records by being the only band ever to play all seven continents on earth in a year. It's quite a feat, and James Hetfield said “We were literally at the bottom of the earth for one of the most unique, special and unforgettable days in our 30+ years as a band." You'd certainly need your wellies there.

  3. A bowling alley

    For reasons still unclear, The White Stripes decided to play a fifteen minute set to around 300 people in 2007 at Eastview Bowling Alley in Saskatoon in 2007. Although White said almost nothing to the audience, he did throw a couple of balls (first was a gutter, awkward). 

  4. On the back of a truck by a Westboro Baptist Church picket line

    The controversial religious group got the Dave Grohl treatment in 2011. As the Westboros staged a protest outside a Foo Fighters show in Kansas City for apparently refusing to use their fame against the spread of "fornication, adultery, idolatry" and more so-called crimes against humanity,  Grohl and co pulled up in front of them on the back of a truck. Dressed as flamboyant hillbillies, the band performed their song Keep It Clean (Hot Buns), which extols the virtues of "man muffins." Good work Big Dave.

  5. Chelmsford Prison

    Sex Pistols weren't the first musical act to play in a prison - Johnny Cash was fond of showing up to entertain the inmates - but they were certainly one of the more bizarre examples. On 17 September 1976, the group performed at Chelmsford prison. They didn't even have a record out and the prisoners were bemused by the primeval racket they came out with. The gig was later released as a bootleg LP, complete with overdubbed dialogue designed to make it sound like John Lydon was inciting a riot.

  6. The turbine hall of an old power station

    Who else could play the Turbine Hall in London's Tate Modern than Kraftwerk? Their name means "power plant" in German and their electronic soundscapes filled the former Bankside power station perfectly. And if that wasn't enough, the whole thing was in 3D! Cushions were supplied for extra comfort on the cold, concrete floor.

  7. On the roof of your record company's offices

    When The Beatles congregated in London to rehearse songs for a TV special in January 1969, the idea was that they'd play an exotic location: maybe a cruise ship or an ampitheatre in Africa. Then they got more realistic and thought about hiring the Roundhouse in Camden. In the end, apathy got the better of them and they just went up onto the roof of their offices in Savile Row, Mayfair. The brief lunchtime show saw the police being called and set the template for every other rooftop performance since.

  8. Outside the Stock Exchange on Wall Street

    For the video to their song Sleep Now In The Fire, Rage Against The Machine employed the famous documentary maker Michael Moore, who decided that the clip should be shot "in the belly of the beast" to reflect the lyric about greed. This meant the band performing an impromptu gig outside the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street. As crowds started to gather, the doors to the Stock Exchange were closed and when the band and the film-makers tried to enter the building, the NYPD stepped in. They can't handle the truth!

  9. On a cruise liner

    Back in 2014, you could have gone on a cruise with Weezer! Imagine that. What fun you could have! Plus, it's wasn't just them, the 2014 jaunt saw The Cribs, Cat Power, Palma Violets and Ash all play too. Scottish twee-poppers Belle & Sebastiam pulled the same stunt in 2019 to similar success.

  10. By Mount Rushmore

    Back in the mid-nineties irreverent rockers Presidents Of The United States set out on, as you can imagine, a pretty raucous tour. It saw them play the greatest possible venue for them ever - Mount Rushmore. The Presidents Of The United States played in front of the presidents of the United States.