Barcelona's Live Music Scene
As a city that boasts more artists than pigeons (at least according to Barcelona Life's somewhat boozy and unofficial survey), it's safe to say that Barcelona's live music scene is - if you'll forgive the pun - rockin'. After all the Catalan capital has a rich musical heritage and has cultivated maestros such as the composers Josep Anselm Clavé and Enrique Granados in the 19th Century, the world famous opera singer Montserrat Caballé (who dueted with Freddie Mercury on 'Barcelona' theme to the 1992 Olympic Games), as well as the more contemporary talents of Ojos de Brujo, a nine-piece hip-hop/flamenco band, and Cabo San Roque - who play old washing machines and toy dogs as instruments. Well worthing catching in concert!
Music seems to spring from the very foundation stones of Barcelona, and whether you're strolling down La Rambla, mooching around on the city beaches or exploring Gaudi's Park Guell you're bound to hear some artistic souls strike up a chord or beating a banjo, as often for the sheer joy of playing as for a copper or two. It goes without saying too that, in this decidedly Bohemian city, organised concerts of rock, jazz, blues, electro, flamenco, classical, folk and pretty much every genre in between take place in live music venues in every barrio and district.
The grander (and pricier) end of Barcelona's live music spectrum takes place in the city's stadiums (like Camp Nou and the Olympic Stadium), concert halls and cavernous nightclubs, where international acts of world-renowned are invited to play: barely a weekend will pass without a big name or two coming to town. And if its top acts you're after it's also well worth keeping an eye on the festival line-ups. Barcelona boasts a number of live music events such as Primavera Sound (the biggest and best!) and Sonar (which is a bit more DJ and dance music orientated but still has a few have concerts and live acts), where it's possible to catch an array of top bands at a decent price, whilst paupers can wait for the annual La Merce fiesta: this is the official festival of the city and a number of high profile artists will play for free courtesy of the Barcelona city council.
Above: A peaceful acoustic gig......
Live music lovers who loathe the idea of stadium-sized crowds, screaming teenagers and overpriced tickets will be pleased to know Barcelona also boasts a number of small and mid-sized venues where more intimate concerts take place. Laws enforcing noise restrictions meant a lot of underground and artistic places lost their licenses in the mid-2000s, but thankfully new spots have sprung up and there's more than enough cool venues spread around the city. As for what you might hear? There are concerts for all tastes in Barcelona, so whether you want to rock up to a klezmer fusion session, afrobeat jam, acid jazz jive or balkan beat bonanza a bit of research will reveal all (start by checking the websites of the live music venues we list below!).
Naturally musical purists are not left out in the cold/warm, as Barcelona boasts concert halls aplenty for classical performances, such as the Liceu Theatre, with its rich programme of opera and ballet, and L'Auditori where the Barcelona Symphony and Catalonia National Orchestra regale the crowds.
Barcelona Live Music Venues (classical)
Let's maintain a modicum of intellectualism and kick off with the classical concert halls:
Gran Teatre del Liceu
Opened in 1847, Barcelona's Opera House on Las Ramblas still draws the crowds for a rich programme of opera and ballet. The 2,292-seat main auditorium is a sight to behold, and the Catalans like to get dressed up for these impressive performances.
La Rambla 51-59
Just round the corner from the Grand Theatre, this 400-seater basement auditorium plays host to classical and contemporary concerts, small-scale operas and jazz.
C/Nou de la Rambla 82-88
This modern glass palace, built in 1999 and designed by Spanish architect Rafael Moneo, seats 2,200 of Barcelona's most refined rumps in its main hall for performances by Barcelona Symphony and Catalonia National Orchestra.
Palau de la Musica Catalana
Sometimes it's easy to forget that Domenech i Montaner's stunning Modernista masterpiece is also a functioning music hall, where regular orchestral, operatic and other musical performances take place. They also host regular festivals and Spanish guitar concerts.
C/Sant Pere Mes Alt
Barcelona Live Music Venues (contemporary)
And for some more contemporary live music venues...
This huge, ex-factory in Poblenou invites some of the biggest names in indie and pop to rock Barcelona, and you may well find some of your favourite bands turn up here if you spend much time in the city!
Similar to Razzmatazz - a big danceclub by night, but concert venue earlier in the evening. Artists at Sala Apolo are often a bit more leftfield with more dance and electro acts performing, alongside rock, punk and indie.
Nou de la Rambla 113
A new arrival late in 2012, this London-style international bar hosts a number of acoustic jams and cover band concerts in their spacious venue just off Plaza Catalunya. Keep tabs with what's going on via their Facebook page.
+34 (93) 6674588
Kennedy Sailing Club
Some of the best bands in Barna rock the stage at Kennedys Irish bar every Thursday to Sunday, usually kicking off at midnight. Entry is free and, with drinks promos and a friendly international crowd, this is a good place to get the party started. If you fancy heading out after you're in the right place... the Olympic Port is the city's nightlife nexus and abounds in clubbing options.
Moll de Mestral 26