What’s in a Venue? The Things We All Look For in Truly Great Clubs

By Alex Killian and Kyra Thompson

There’s not much that compares to the feeling of seeing a live show in what seems to be the absolute perfect venue. When light, space, and sound combine correctly, it can be magical. So, what are the criteria for creating such magic? We’ve rounded up what we think are some of the most important features of a killer venue.

Wait Times

Waiting in lines can be one of the most frustrating parts of going to a show or club. A ridiculously long line for entry is never fun, but neither is showing up hours early just to get a decent spot in the crowd. We’ll dive deeper on crowd control later, but let’s not forget the inevitable bathroom situation. Nothing is worse than having to fight the overwhelming feeling of having to pee because you know it means you’ll miss more than 5 minutes of the show. The best venues are set up with enough bathrooms to handle the crowd, along with some kind of streamlined waiting section that doesn’t interfere with the show itself.

Bar Location and Service

At a show, everyone wants a drink. At a show, no one wants to wait more than 10 minutes for a drink, and we shouldn’t have to. Ideally, a venue will have a spacious bar with multiple bartenders, or multiple bars throughout the space. Not to be forgotten are those angelic bartenders who make the line fly by with stellar, speedy service.

Drink Consistency

Drink on a bar at a venue

Not everyone looks for the same thing when it comes to their beverages for the night. However, whether you prefer quality or quantity, knowing what you are about to receive is truly the key. Consistency at a bar is what helps them stay afloat and keep their customers happy. Some are known for their strong as hell drinks at a cheap price, while others make sure to craft their cocktails to perfection and deliver you art in a glass. Both are quite appropriate in their own rights for various different occasions and locations!

A Variety of Viewing Options

Regardless of what kind of show you’re at, it’s always nice to have the option to stand, sit, get a bird’s eye view, or just vibe in the crowd. A variety of ways to experience the show you’re at makes a venue that much better. Plus, it allows concertgoers to choose their own adventure.

Crowd Control

How does a team of nightlife staff even attempt to control the drunkards who are spending large portions of their paychecks in their establishment? Crowd control comes in broad forms, such as not overselling a show, having an adequate stage and bar set up, and well-staffing the events. However, it’s most visible when it comes to monitoring alcohol intake, as well as how and when they intervene in escalating situations, from mosh pits to handling those unfortunate instances when fights occur.

Booking and Crowds

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The artist playing is definitely something everyone thinks about when planning a night out on the town, whether you’re looking for a headline show or a stellar local act. It isn’t always about big names or how much you are spending, but about giving the fans what they want for a fair price. Some of the best venues showcase certain genres or levels of artists on certain days of the week in an effort to predict and plan for a certain type and size of crowd.

Production & Sound

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In a world where electronic music has hit such high demand, it is no longer sufficient enough to spend money on a booking, while ignoring other parts of a venue. If the quality of the sound distorts the artist’s intended sound or vibe, it can not only turn away patrons, but also turn other musicians away from selecting said venue to perform at when touring the area.

Coat Check

Often forgotten, but never unappreciated when it’s needed, coat check can be a lifesaver. We’ve all had to head to a show after work and had a backpack, heavy coat, or umbrella on us. A cheap and straightforward coat check is arguably one of the best “extra” features a venue can have, for it’s stress-relieving quality alone. Not only are you grateful, but so is everyone around you for not getting smacked by your bag every two seconds.

So, what exactly makes a venue great?

Aside from the features listed above, it also depends on how the venue and the artist interact. Smaller venues allow for more intimacy, but sometimes a larger venue allows a big crowd to feel like a family. WaMu Theater in Seattle is such a multi-purpose venue it can feel cold and lacking in personality. But, when Porter Robinson brought his Worlds tour, the magic of the show alone made the venue worth it.

At the end of the day, a show is what you make it, regardless of the space you’re in. While there may be clear winners when it comes to venue intimacy, logistics, ease of entry and so on, if you love the artist you’re seeing and respect those around you, you’re bound to have a good time no matter what.

Planning a night out? Check out our guide to Seattle Clubs.

What do you look for in a nightclub? Tell us about your favorite venues and why you frequent them!