Sidecar Factory Club
In a former life, Sidecar – known phonetically to locals as “cedar car” – used to play host to singles nights for the US army, who would trot eagerly up the Ramblas to the Plaça Reial from the port. Sadly, you won’t find much military hedonism at Sidecar today, but the spirit of this American bacchanal remains in the venue’s devotion to guttural rock’n’roll, punk and garage rock. Sidecar has hosted more than 4,000 concerts since it opened in 1982, with a small stage fit snugly into a beautifully lit, low-ceilinged cellar venue. It also hosts DJ sessions until the early hours, six nights a week, covering everything from ghetto funk to indie. Local bands are a speciality, but you’ll also get visiting acts like Bill Ryder-Jones and Natalie Prass. The recent problems at Heliogàbal – long a home to up-and-coming local bands and now faced with potentially crippling fines for alleged overcrowding – make Sidecar, as well as Freedonia, more important than ever.
Gran Bodega Saltó
Rumba Catalana – a mixture of flamenco rumba, Cuban music and rock’n’roll which developed in Barcelona’s Romani community in the 1950s – is one of Catalonia’s most endearing musical legacies. You can still hear it all over Barcelona, but rarely in a venue as eye-catching as Gran Bodega Saltó, an old wine shop in Poble-Sec decorated with cartoon tigers, dolls and even a hybrid shark-carrot. The venue also plays host to blues, swing and other musical mixes. Even better, you can sample another great Barcelona tradition, the Sunday vermouth. Entry is usually free, but it gets busy, so get there early, when you can still see the decor.
L’Hospitalet de Llobregat is, technically, the second largest city in Catalonia and the 16th largest in Spain. However, it has become rather subsumed into the Barcelona sprawl: you’d struggle to fit a cigarette paper between the two cities, and it is well served by the Barcelona metro. That may be bad news for L’Hospitalet’s civic pride, but it’s a welcome development for anyone who wants to visit one of Catalonia’s most legendary indie music venues, Depósito Legal – or el Depo, as everyone knows it. AKA the “indie temple” of l’Hospitalet, El Depo was born in 1985 of the same free spirit that inspired the Movida Madrileña (the countercultural movement that followed Franco’s death). These days it’s known for its friendly, unpretentious atmosphere and some of Catalonia’s best indie nights, calling on the region’s most established indie spinners, like Luis Le Nuit, Hal 9000 and Monamí.
Allegedly modelled on a typical bar in prewar Marseille, Bar Pastis is home to intimate live music performances in one of the most charming small spaces in Barcelona, all elderly wooden panels, faded pictures, low lighting and layers of random nostalgic trinkets, infused with the kind of corporeal smell that makes you wish they’d repeal the smoking ban. Expect tango, blues, folk and more, in a bar about the size of your lounge, where you can see the whites of the performer’s eyes, all for a €2 supplement on your first drink. The experience, both musical and alcoholic, is like stepping back in time.