Cardiff's International Arena is the suckiest worst gig venue ever. It has the atmosphere of a morgue... in the arctic. I think it's been designed to suck the life out of music and stifle even the best bands with negative acoustics. It was obviously thrown together by a committee of music-hating architects whose sole criteria in designing the place was to produce the WORST VENUE FOR LIVE MUSIC IN THE WORLD. Although the fact they acheived this feat probably accords them more competency than they actually had.
I often compare the CIA to the Newport Centre, which is a leisure centre. You walk in past a swimming pool. And yet, the gigs I've seen there have been fantastic (Delirious?, Counting Crows and Terrorvision). But the gigs I've seen at the CIA - an allegedly purpose-built concert venue - have felt like you're at a gig in a leisure centre. And the bands I've seen include Counting Crows on a different occasion, so it's a fair comparison between gigs. Either the Crows suddenly became woeful, or it's the venue's fault.
So it's fair to say I hate the CIA as a venue. It's drab, devoid of atmosphere, and kills live music stone cold dead. I would rather travel to a different city entirely to see a band play. So when I heard Scouting for Girls are going to play the CIA in November my initial reaction was 'Nooooo!' Then I noticed they're playing the Civic in Wolverhampton on a Saturday. Even with diesel currently costing more per litre than red wine, it'll be worth the extra expense. At least the gig experience won't be ruined by an abhorrent, soul-destroying venue.