Madrid is often left off the tour schedules of international bands- well, non Spanish speaking ones. Location doesn’t help and some feel they can tick the Spain box with Barcelona, considered more in tune with the international music “vibe”. To an extent true, but these days the Spanish-European link is stretching further than the Catalan capital and Madrid is mixing more European live music into its already well developed and certainly well appreciated local and national scene.
During the summer months, Spain is stage to a huge number of music festivals. This year Madrid hosted Rock en Rio, Africa en Vivo, the national hero Joaquin Sabina who played in the Ventas Bull Ring, to name a few.
For the permanent live music venue- Madrid is home to a wide variety; with music ranging from Afro-Caribbean, reggae and latino, to flamenco, heavy metal, indie and of course the regular flow of more mainstream bands who grace the big stage.
There are two principal arenas: Palacio Vistalegre, in the outskirts of Madrid, and El Palacio de Deportes. Both multiuse spaces, the latter being used for basketball matches, but also playing host to large international groups such as Muse, Guns and Roses and Depeche Mode. El Palacio de Deportes, as it is situated in the centre of a lively neighbourhood, sees people piling into surrounding bars for a pre-gig drink, or two.
For a medium-size venue those with the most international flow are the Sala Heineken in Plaza de España, showing bands such as Florence and the Machine and Moorcheeba. La Riviera is another prime venue and unique in its tropical decoration and a bar right in the middle of the dancefloor. This venue hosts bands such as La Roux and MGMT, successful but more alternative international acts.
There are the more local venues which play both live music and merge into a typical Spanish night out, a small venue near the metro Bilbao, Honky Tonk which promotes itself as a more bluesy grassroots venue, although I have been witness to some thrashing guitar on their basement stage. Another more alternative venue is Sala Sol, actually quite large and puts on some great local indie bands and alternative parties.
If you are inclined towards Flamenco, there are two types of venue: one formal show, including a sit down meal. The two most famous venues are El Corral de la Pacheca near Plaza de Castilla, and El Corral de la Moreria, in La Latina. If you are looking for a more relaxed but top quality flamenco experience, then head to Casa Patas in Anton Martin.
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Photo by fernando garcía redondo.