There's nothing like attending a concert while traveling. Not only do you experience great music, but you also catch a glimpse of local fashion, dances, drinks and customs. And isn't experiencing life like the locals what traveling is all about? Here's a selected list of 14 places around the globe that offer concert-goers more than just a band on stage.
Gypsy Joynt Café, Massachusetts: With a bohemian décor and lively roster of musical acts, this Great Barrington, Mass., venue/restaurant is a trip, man. Don't believe me? Ask Travis Raab, a guitarist who plays with Katharine McPhee. He's from Great Barrington and says, "If you want to see open mikes showcasing New England hippie weirdos playing bizarre djembe chants, this is the spot." Info: http://www.gypsyjoyntcafe.net
Holy Ship Does a four-day cruise out of Miami with some of the world's best electronic musicians — many performing two sets — sound like heaven on Earth? If so, you have plenty of time to save for the 2015 edition of Holy Ship (because this year's event — which included Skrillex, A-Trak and Boys Noize happened Jan. 9-12.) Holy Ship also includes parties at private islands in the Bahamas and theme nights when guests wear costumes and dance while aboard the MSC Divina. Info: http://www.holyship.com
Monterey Jazz Festival: Take every reason you'd never go to a festival, remove them from your concert-going experience and you have the Monterey Jazz Festival, where lines for the restrooms are organized and there's ample seating for each show. Those alone are reasons to make the trek up California's Central Coast, but it's the crisp fall air and a who's who of jazz that make this a festival not to be missed. Not having to worry about a naked man on drugs standing next to you is pretty awesome too. Info: http://www.montereyjazzfestival.org
Yokohama, Japan: Motown Bar is home to one of the world's greatest all-vinyl soul record collections. The bartender spins classics by James Brown and the Temptations while displaying the record covers above the turntable. You think you've heard "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" enough to last two lifetimes, but one listen at a second-story bar overlooking the busy Motomachi street and a shipping canal and you realize soul music has never sounded so good.
Keflavik, Iceland: This year's All Tomorrow's Parties festival takes place July 10-12 on a former NATO base. Although dancing to Portishead and Interpol with thoughts of an intergovernmental military alliance might not sound like an ideal pairing, if it's ATP, it's going to be fun because "there's nothing like it," says Joe Cardamone, singer of Los Angeles rock band the Icarus Line. The event includes two indoor stages, films chosen by artists and festival organizers, a pop quiz and an exhibition titled "Life on a NATO Base" that examines the more than 200,000 American citizens who lived and worked at the site. Info: http://www.atpfestival.com/home.php
Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, Colorado: This 9,450-capacity outdoor venue near Morrison, Colo., has hosted act including the Beatles, the Grateful Dead, Rush and Sting, but it's the massive rocks surrounding the stage and seating that headline every show. At 6,450 feet above sea level, Red Rocks offers more photo opportunities than a red carpet event, and it boasts guided tours, hiking trails and shopping. Rocky Mountain high indeed. Info: http://www.redrocksonline.com
Wakarusa, Arkansas: About 100 acts perform at the annual Wakarusa festival, but none of them gets top billing over the gorgeous views courtesy of the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. The mid-June weather averages highs in the mid-80s and lows in the mid-60s, which allows campers (and regular ticket holders) to enjoy a disc golf tournament, raft and canoe rentals and live painting exhibitions. With so much going on, it's easy to forget Wakarusa hosts big-name acts such as Wilco, Primus, the Lumineers, Mumford & Sons and Ben Folds Five. Info: http://www.wakarusa.com
Mayan Holidaze, Mexico: The line between fan and musician has never been blurrier than during this five-day event, which takes place at the Now Sapphire resort in Puerto Morelos, Mexico. Besides sets by electronic and jam bands, water sports, autograph signings and beachside yoga, many of the daily activities incorporate artists mingling with fans. During the 2013 event, for example, Jake Cinniger of Umphrey's McGee judged a salsa contest, and a tennis tournament featured Kris Meyers of Umphrey's McGee and Jeffree Lerner of STS9. Info: http://www.mayanholidaze.com
Verona Arena, Rome: This Roman amphitheater is known for staging as many as six opera performances each year. For 2014, Verona Arena has nine events scheduled, including "Carmen," "Aida" and Spanish tenor Plácido Domingo, who is general director of LA Opera. The 13,000-seat arena has also hosted contemporary acts such as Pearl Jam and Paul McCartney. Info: http://www.lat.ms/1lKcAhz
Devilles Pad, Australia: Fridays and Saturdays are when you'll find live cabaret acts at this Perth, Australia, lounge, where the aesthetic combines tiki themes with a kitschy hell motif. On other nights a DJ spins rockabilly and '60s music, along with performances by caged go-go dancers, live rock 'n' roll bands and Vegas-inspired revues. As if that weren't enough, there's also something called a "volcanic courtyard." It's no wonder Devilles Pad describes itself as the place to find "one hell of a good night out." Info: http://www.devillespad.com
Roskilde, Denmark: There are plenty of music festivals, but not many have a lineup as diverse as Roskilde, about 22 miles outside Copenhagen. This year's event includes performances by Arctic Monkeys, Carcass and Dilated Peoples. There are also two separate campgrounds: one for those who want to party all night and the "quiet area," which "calls for a cleaner living and silence at night." Info: http://www.roskilde-festival.dk
Foxfire Ranch, Mississippi: Southern fried catfish, barbecued pork and chicken are served while guests groove to the authentic sounds of North Mississippi Hill Country blues. The site, in Waterford, Miss., is a working cattle and horse ranch and is open for concerts on Sundays between April and November. Info: http://www.lat.ms/1aoqn9f
MusicfestNW, Oregon: Septembers in Portland get chilly, which might explain why this six-day festival was held in 17 indoor venues (and one outside) in 2013. The diversity in stages allows fans to see different parts of Portland while checking out indie rock, hip-hop, electronic music and soul. Info: http://www.musicfestnw.com
Brudenell Social Club, England: This 400-capacity club, founded in November 1913, was voted best small venue in Leeds by NME music weekly magazine in 2011. With an array of local bands and secret shows by Franz Ferdinand and the Kaiser Chiefs, it's easy to see why. There's also a lounge, a game room, pinball, five pool tables, darts and live sports in HD. Info: http://www.brudenellsocialclub.co.uk