Independent Venue Week: Venues To Check Out
Without independent venues, new music as we know it would cease to exist. That’s why, every year, Independent Venue Week shines a spotlight on the pubs, clubs and bars that give our favourite new artists a platform to get their music out there. To celebrate Independent Venue Week’s fifth anniversary, we’ve rounded up five of the best independent venues throughout the UK that make up the backbone of the live music scene. Though this is just a small selection of the venues getting involved, the rest can be found on the Independent Venue Week website, along with a full lineup of gigs throughout the week starting 29th of January.
Jumpin’ Jacks – Newcastle
Right in the centre of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Jumpin’ Jacks is a relatively new music venue, located above the famous Dog and Parrot bar on Clayton Street. Well known throughout Newcastle and beyond for its atmosphere, Jumpin’ Jacks boasts an impressive 100 capacity rooftop terrace as well as a varied and ever-changing range of beers from local brewers. Online reviews gush about the incredible sound system and the genuine passion for live music from the staff. Upcoming gigs include Baby Strange, Rascalton and FEVA as part of Independent Venue Week on February 4th and, as well as an almost non-stop lineup of local and national bands, JJ’s will host a This Feeling night featuring The Wholls at the beginning of March.
The Trades Club – Hebden Bridge
Built in 1923 by local trade unions, The Trades Club is a socialist members club and live music venue in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire that has been cited as ‘the best small venue in the UK’ and has, for several years running, made it into the finals of the NME small venue of the year awards. Since being built, the building slowly fell into disuse after the decline of the cotton industry, but was revived in 1982. Over the past few years, it has been undergoing steady refurbishment including a new stage, lighting rig and mixing desk, though the original fully sprung dance floor – initially used for ballroom dancing – still remains. As well as live music, The Trades Club also hosts political events and fundraisers for local and national causes. The venue has a long history of showing rising stars on their way up, including Patti Smith, The Buzzcocks and, more recently, Blossoms. Throughout Independent Venue Week, The Trades Club will host Pete Fij and Terry Bickers on January 31st, Richard Dawson on February 1st and The Slow Readers Club on February 2nd. As well as this already extensive lineup, they’re also hosting The Heavenly Weekend from February 22nd-24th, headlined by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard with Gwenno and The Orielles.
The Met – Bury
One of the most diverse venues featured this year, The Met in Bury hosts theatre workshops and comedy performances as well as family shows and live music performances. After recently undergoing a multi-million pound refurbishment, it now boasts two performance spaces, popular restaurant Automatic and the Edwin Street Creative Hub with its own recording studio. Affectionately known as Bury Met by locals, the venue has won a number of awards including Small Music Venue of the Year and Music Festival of the Year 2017 in the Northern Soul Awards. Each year, The Met is also the organiser and promoter of Head for the Hills Festival, which attracts around 12,000 music fans annually. As part of Independent Venue Week, The Met will host Manchester favourites The Slow Readers Club on February 1st, as well as Shake the Chains on the 2nd and Richard Hawley on the 3rd.
The Underground – Stoke-on-Trent
Being close enough to Manchester to make travelling there relatively easy, and just a little bit too small to demand its own show, Stoke-on-Trent is an area that often gets overlooked by bands touring the UK. Featuring a range of local and national artists, The Underground in Stoke is probably most famous for what came to be known as ‘The Babyshambles Riot’ in the press after Pete Doherty’s side project’s gig ended in chaos, with curtains being torn down, sections of wall collapsing and the tourbus-top singalong that followed outside only ending when the police arrived to break it up. Aside from that one incident, the venue is well known for having a laid back atmosphere and friendly staff, and has a number of five star reviews to show for it. Taking part in Independent Venue Week for its first time ever, The Underground hosts Fruit, formerly known as Alma, with support from Whiskey and the Lost Notes, RoadMouse and Adam Finney on January 30th.
Soup Kitchen – Manchester
Located in the heart of Manchester’s Northern Quarter, Soup Kitchen combines the laid back atmosphere of a canteen-style restaurant upstairs with the much more intense and lively music venue in the basement. Host to a number of gigs, club nights, film nights, comedy events and art exhibitions, Soup Kitchen’s lineup is as unconventional and forward-thinking as its gender neutral toilets would suggest. The basement venue is grungy and dark, yet highly intimate as the audience is able to get right up close to within inches of the stage. Soup Kitchen hosts a gig almost every night of the week, and has won a number of awards over the past few years, including Best Newcomer, Best Night Club and Best Live Music Venue. Throughout Independent Venue Week, Soup Kitchen will play host to the Help Musicians Jazz Special featuring Mali Hayes with support from ANDCHUCK and J Frisco on January 30th, as well as LIIMA on January 31st and Andrew Savage and Jack Cooper on February 1st.