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February 26, 2018 | by  | in Arts Music |
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A Rough, Subjective Guide to Welly’s Music Venues

In this year’s Salient music section, we’re gonna do a lot of the normal shit – we’re going to be talking about the important records of the year, the big events, and we’ll be conducting interviews with musicians. My main focus for the year, however, is to shine a light on our local scene. New Zealand has a rich and important musical history, and Wellington is part of it.

To start the year, here’s a bit of a run-down on some of Welly’s best venues.

The first venue I’ll mention here is San Fran on Cuba Street – my favourite spot in Wellington. Ever since my first San Fran gig – an O-Week Drax Project gig in 2015, which I have a somewhat foggy recollection of – I have been in love with this venue. Over the years, this venue has played host to many of the world’s finest acts, and over the next little while will host acts such as Mick Jenkins, The Underachievers, DZ Deathrays, and local legends such as The Datsuns, and The D4. Furthermore, San Fran is a keen promoter of the local scene, and last year played host to Eyegum Wednesdays – a set of free gigs to promote local artists. Some of my favourite musical memories of Wellington have been at San Fran (Peanut Butter Wolf and Vince Staples both spring to mind), and the intimate quality of the small-mid sized space makes for an ever-exciting concert experience. I’d definitely vouch for this as one of the premier venues in town.

If that sounds appealing, Meow, located on Edward St, and Caroline, on Manners St, both fit the bill of the excellent small-to-mid size venue also. Both of these venues play host to a variety of independent acts (both from our local scene and wider New Zealand), and have pretty outstanding food and drink aspects to them. Whilst Wellington has been on the hunt for a mid-to-large sized venue to attract the bigger international acts for a number of years (and no secret has been made of this), I believe we really are spoiled for choice in terms of our more intimate club-like venues in the CBD – especially when factoring in The Hunter Lounge, on campus in Kelburn, and Valhalla, on Vivian St, in addition to the spots I mentioned above.

On a similar vein, another of my favs is The Rogue & Vagabond, located on Garrett Street in the CBD. The Rogue & Vagabond regularly hosts live music – usually of the jazz/soul/funk variety in my experience, with many local acts – and throughout 2017 hosted record fairs for collectors in the region. In addition to this, The Rogue & Vagabond is one of many venues in Wellington that prides itself on its craft beer. Combine these features with the awesome outdoor space, and you’ve got a killer spot with great tunes. $2 Taco Tuesdays are always a good time too!

I’ll admit to probably having missed a few venues in this list, and there’s a number of reasons for that. The most predominant in my mind, however, is that I’m really still discovering what Wellington has to offer musically myself – and that’s totally okay. My advice to the first-year music lovers is to get out there, get along to gigs at these venues, support your local artists, and find what you like for yourself. Get stuck in!


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