Their floors were often puddles of booze and broken glass, their air a heady mix of teenage sweat and cigarettes, and the volume always went up to "max".
But for rock-and-pop fans of a certain age, New Zealand's live music venues were the perfect "slice of heaven".
The crowds that squeezed into venues such as Mainstreet Cabaret, the Gluepot, The Mon, the Gladstone Hotel and The Cook, to name but a few, witnessed many of New Zealand's biggest and most influential bands in action - including Split Enz, the Dance Exponents, Hello Sailor, DD Smash, Herbs, The Mockers, Th' Dudes and When The Cat's Away.
And if live music fans weren't thrashing their heads to local bands, they were rocking out to such international acts as New Order and Siouxsie and the Banshees.
John Church, Bayleys' national director commercial, said: "While the history of rock and roll was written inside pubs across the city, most of the legendary venues of the '70s, '80s and '90s have now have largely disappeared - either swept aside by the wrecking ball or converted into commercial or residential premises."
With one of the country's last legendary live music venues, the King's Arms in Auckland, recently selling and the landholding most likely facing a new future, here are some of the New Zealand's most famous music spots and the great moments in rock and pop history that defined both them and a generation of music fans:
The Gluepot, at the corner of Ponsonby and Jervois roads, Auckland, was where Mick Jagger once played a 30-minute set for free and Midnight Oil's Peter Garrett smashed his foot through the stage.
From the late 70s onwards, the Gluepot was Auckland's premier live music destination, attracting both big Kiwi bands and international acts.
It closed on Labour Weekend in 1994 when owners, Dominion Breweries, put it on the market for sale. It is now a mix of apartments and retail space.
Mainstreet Cabaret helped countless Kiwi bands such as Split Enz, the Dance Exponents and Hello Sailor find their feet before they made it big, and was the New Zealand launching pad for revolutionary sounds from overseas, including New Order and Siouxsie and the Banshees.
It is now a five-storey office block dominating the top of Queen Street with 2600sq m of office space that was previously occupied by Ames IT academy.
The Mon Desir in Takapuna, Auckland, was bulldozed and turned into a six-storey waterfront apartment complex in the mid-90s. The pub was where David Bowie had his infamous "four-days-of-debauchery" with a group of Kiwi fans who managed to slip past security.
During the 1980s, the pub was reported to have the biggest on-the-spot beer consumption in Auckland and rock fans got boisterous around the swimming pool as they listened to bands on the pub's notorious Thursday nights.
Midge Marsden, the Al Grant Band, the Rockafellas, Dave Dobbyn and The Exponents played a tearful farewell concert to "The Mon" in 1994 after it was announced it would be demolished.
Windsor Castle, at 144 Parnell Road, Auckland, once shook to the sounds of Toy Love, Street Talk and Dave Dobbyn.
Since its music heyday it has been a restaurant headed by Simon Gault and a sushi bar before reverting back to a local pub.
The 890m2 site, which has 268m2 of professional offices on level one, was sold earlier this year for $6.62 million.
The White Horse Inn on Ti Rakau Drive in the Auckland suburb of Pakuranga was the home of New Zealand glam rock during the 1970s.
The pub closed some six years ago and is soon to be replaced with a new three-storey mixed-use development featuring a dozen or so food and beverage outlets in 2100sq m of space at street level, and 30 apartments above.
The Adelaide, on the corner of Wellington's Adelaide Road and Drummond Street, had a colourful history even before it became a classic rock bar.