Independent Venue Week: Why it's so important to support your local music venue

There are over twice as many people involved as last year and it's only getting busier

Roisin O'Connor
Wednesday 27 January 2016 14:51
Crowds at a gig
Crowds at a gig

Halfway through Independent Venue Week, it's worth a reminder why this event is so important.

There are over twice as many people involved as last year after its launch in 2014 and it's only getting busier, with artists like Tim Burgess (who has a show at Night & Day in Manchester on 31 January) and Wolf Alice, who tell The Independent that these venues are where artists “cut their teeth”, getting involved which organisers say has been a "real boost".

“Getting artists on board is a pleasure,” Independent Venue Week's founder Sybil Bell says. "Independent Venue Week is less of a campaign, and more of a celebration of the venues that are there."

Jeff Horton, of London's legendary 100 Club, says a high cost of rent led to a worrying time for the venue, but they simply cannot move. “The stage has been there since 1964, we've had everyone from Muddy Waters to the Rolling Stones to the Sex Pistols playing there.”

“We [ venue managers] are cut from the same cloth - we do this because we love it,” he adds. “A lot of people now are full of self-entitlement, and for us who run independent venues I think we've got a role to play in putting a stop to that. There's not enough places for young people to let loose and get rid of that energy diving into a mosh pit."

James Gillet of Mallory Knox - one of the bands performing during IVW, says: “I think Independent Venue Week is such an important event not just to help raise awareness for the smaller independently run venues, but to actually get people through the door. These venues are like hidden gems. Some people may not even realise they have one right on their doorstep.

"Hopefully it will help people realise how important these venues are to the music industry as a whole too. Most of your favourite bands will have gone through at least one of these venues in the rise of their career. They didn't just start out playing to thousands of people in arenas. Without these venues, bands and artists wouldn't have the platform they need to actually get their music out there. In the long run, that could be the death of live music or at the very least, the death of new music. Social media can only do so much, bands need to be seen live to really connect with people.”

And a representative for The Leadmill in Sheffield says: “So many bands and artists have given us some incredible moments on our stages and I've only been here for 6 years of those. One of my favourite shows of recent times would have to be the sell out Royal Blood gig on Halloween 2014. This was just after they broke through and the show was packed out. It was Halloween, so the band asked that every one dressed as skeletons, which about 80% did, and the record label send the guys a surprise present of a real life size coffin! They wanted to incorporate the coffin into the set so they asked our staff if they would carry Mike Kerr through the crowd inside of the coffin during the opening number - it was one of the most surreal moments of my career at the Leadmill, watching a sea of skeletons part to make way for a coffin. The guys then went into one of the most incredible sets I've ever seen on that stage.

"In an age of economic uncertainty and free and easily accessible music, independent and small venues can be easily forgotten and overlooked. However, small independent venues are the life blood of the music industry in developing and nurturing young and emerging talent. Without these venues taking the risks, there would be nowhere for the arena bands of tomorrow to grow! IVW puts a spotlight on those venues and reminds music lovers of why they are so special and why they should be supported."

Independent Venue Week is on now - check out the events and get more information here

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