There is not a dedicated in door venue for big rock and pop concerts in Rome. The very big bands like U2, the Rolling Stones or Vasco Rossi, have gigs hosted at the Olympic Stadium in fairer months. Bands that draw around 10,000, like REM, James Blunt and Italian bands like Litfiba or Le Vibrazioni have their gigs at PalaLottomatica (a basketball stadium in the EUR district with terrible acoustics). No, it is not ideal and many international acts only come as far south as Bologna.
Ironically, Rome does have a world class concert venue – Auditorium Parco della Musica, which was built by Renzo Piano, but it was acoustically and decoratively conceived for classical music only. Still the Auditorium does host the July Sounds Good Festival in its open air cavea.
An honour afforded the high and the mighty of the rock and pop world, like Sting or Paul McCartney, is a performance inside the Colosseum. The annual charity event is an all invite show so unless you are politically connected forget it. However, another special venue that is open to all is the Roman Theatre at Ostia Antica. Also built 2000 years ago the La Teatro Romana di Ostia Antica has hosted Jethro Tull, Patti Smith and Morrissey.
In summer things get a lot better with the open air festival season.
When: July • Add: Appia Nuova 1245, 00178 Rome • Web: www.rockinroma.com
Rock in Rome is part of the Estate Romana extravaganza but the rowdy rockers are safely tucked away at the Campanelli Race course on the edge of town. It is a bit of a trek to get there but the venue is served by buses 664 and 654 both leaving from Colli Albani metro station on the A line. There is a lot going on at Rock in Roma – stands, side gigs and plenty of locals all letting their hair down. A cab home to the centre will only cost 15 – 20 Euro, so don’t miss out.
18 June - 30 Seconds to Mars • 04 July - Dream Theatre • 06 July - Afterhours
13 July - Chemical Brothers • 19 July - Ben Harper / Robert Plant
23 July - Jack Johnson • 24 July – Moby and after show DJ set
When: July • Add: Viale Pietro de Coubertin 30, 00196 Rome • Web: www.auditorium.com
All July Sounds Good gigs are played in the open air Cavea in the Auditorium and 2011 has again attracted big name acts to the open air festival including Elton John. Yes, even Elton John is deemed too risky to be given a roof at Parco della Musica. I can see the fans ripping up the seats to “Saturday night’s alright” as I write. “Hey John, you and me outside now!” Jokes apart it is a great venue and outside is where you want to be in July in Rome. July Sounds Good is ready to rock between 24 June and 30 July 2011.
4 July - Ringo Star • 8 July - Sinead O’Connor • 9 July - Chicago
13 July - Elton John • 15 July - George Benson • 27 July - Joe Cocker
28 July - Leonard Cohen • 29 July - Paul Simon • 25 July - Lou Reed
For a more intimate and animated venue Rome does have a few choice night spots with capacity ranging from 500 to 1500. People making a name for themselves play here in addition, foreign bands on their first international tour and old 80s bands like the punk bands. Finally, the other type of act that frequently gets stage time are cover bands, which always pull a party crowd and pay the venue bills.
Crowd: Art students and hipsters • Add: Via Casilina Vecchia 42, 00182 Rome
Tel: +390670305684 • Web: www.circoloartisti.it
Crowd: Beer drinker s • Add: Via Placanica 172, 00118 Rome
Tel:+390679845959 • Web: www.stazionebirra.it
Crowd: Long hair and skin tight jeans • Add: Via Tiburtina 870, 00155 Rome
Tel: Tel. +39 064063155 • Web: www.jailbreakrock.it
Crowd: Trilbies and shades, 30-somethings • Add: Vicolo San Francesco a Ripa 18, 00153 Rome
Tel: +39065812551 • Web: www.bigmama.it
Crowd: Creatures of the night • Add: Via Casilina 713, 00177 Rome
Tel: +39062415047 • Web: www.blackoutrockclub.com
Crowd: Indie kids • Add: Via del Commercio 36, 00154 Rome
Tel: +39065747826 • Web: www.alpheus.it
Crowd: The well dressed • Add: Via Alberico II 27/29, 00193 Rome
Tel: +390668307137 • Web: www.theplace.it
Crowd: Beer drinkers • Add: Via Braccianese 771, 00060 Osteria Nuova
Tel: +39063046645 • Web: www.crossroadsliveclub.com