Jack Saunders: the world’s best gig venues

Jack Saunders is Radio 1’s champion of all things new. He showcases all kinds of cutting-edge acts on his Future Artists show, which airs at 8pm Mondays to Wednesdays, and the best of modern alternative music on his much-loved Sunday-night Indie Show. Here, he shares with us his great global gig venues

Summer Well, Romania

With a gig venue to go to all the time, you can become numb to it a little bit, I think, but going to festivals in special locations pushes you kind of outside of your box and reminds you why you love music so much. To get to this festival, you have to walk almost in single file through the forest at night in the dark. And then all of a sudden you come to this clearing. The lights are amazing. They’ve got these great art installations all around, and it’s all to do with, like, these really vibrant, colourful visual things. Being in the middle of the forest makes it especially intimate. You’re not distracted: your full focus is on the stage and what’s going on in front of you. 

Strada Știrbei Vodă 36, Buftea 070000, Romania; summerwell.ro

The Roman amphitheatre, Pula, Croatia.

The Pula Arena, Croatia 

We are so spoiled in the UK when it comes to music – we just expect our favourite bands to be here, performing for us. Whereas in Europe, they don’t get as many tours, so when a band comes, they really appreciate it and it makes for an incredible experience. I went to see Arctic Monkeys at this amphitheatre in Pula, a town on the Istrian peninsula in Croatia. It’s like a mini Colosseum; the walls are decrepit and broken down a little bit, like a shell of the amphitheatre. And then in the middle, they’ve built a gig venue, with a bit of tiered seating at the back. It feels very intimate, because you have the walls up around you, yet you can see up into the sky. So you feel like you’re in this little bubble with whatever band you’re seeing. 

Flavijevska ul, 52100 Pula, Croatia; ami-pula.hr

The Palladium Theater, Hollywood, California

The Hollywood Palladium, USA

I went to see American hardcore band Turnstile at the Hollywood Palladium and it was my favourite gig of the year. You often hear American crowds getting a bad rap compared with British crowds, but the fans at the Palladium went wild for Turnstile and the atmosphere was incredible. Once you’re done at the Palladium, head to Jones on Santa Monica Boulevard for really good food, low-level lighting and intimate little booths. And the cocktails are fire. 

6215 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90028, USA; thehollywoodpalladium.com

Reggae Sumfest, Jamaica

I went to this festival when I was 18 and it might be my favourite-ever travel experience. It’s the biggest reggae festival in the world and it takes place every year at Montego Bay. As you drive into the bay, towards the festival, you can see this cloud above it, like you see over the top of Beijing from all the pollution. Only it’s weed smoke. Reggae is a genre of love, and the Jamaican people are all love as well, and we got such a warm welcome. Vybz Kartel played and it was phenomenal. I got there at 7pm and didn’t get home until 7am. 

Montego Bay, Jamaica; reggaesumfest.com

Follow Jack on Instagram at @jackxsaunders

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