Running for its fifth consecutive year, Independent Venue Week returned to locations across Manchester and all over the UK at the start of this month. With around 35% of independent venues having closed over the last 10 years, the efforts of IVW and similar organisations is crucial in maintaining the UK’s grassroots live scene. Having once again brought together some of the nation’s most iconic locations to create a united front against the alarming rate of venue closures, the week saw both breaking and established artists celebrated alongside up and coming promoters, labels, media, bloggers and tastemakers.
Sharing his views on the importance of support for independent venues, John Robb told us: Our
foundations buildings collapse, without grass roots venues there is no music, tomorrows music is being made today in small venues up and down the UK – this is
the future and this week is a celebration of where music sounds, feels, looks and smells the best”
Despite the live sector’s ongoing tribulations, the outlook for Manchester’s live scene remains positive; with new venues replacing the old and a plethora of grassroots artists eager to perform. Here’s our low down on the venue’s involved and the musical highlights from the week.
Band on the Wall @bandonthewall
Having been an established music venue since way back in the 1930s, Band on the Wall has hosted a plethora of diverse artists. Though initially renown for hosting quality jazz, folk and blues, the swan street venue found itself at the centre of the post-punk scene in the l970s and hosted early performances from the likes of Buzzcocks, The Fall and Joy Division. Among the venue’s highlights of the week was British composer and jazz pianist Andrew McCormack, who showcased his critically acclaimed Graviton album.
Night People @nightpeoplemcr
Night People quickly became a virtue to Manchester’s live scene following its opening in October 2017. DJ, radio presenter and Inspiral Carpets member Clint Boon was excited to see one of his favourite upcoming Manchester bands, Control of the Going, playing at Night People on Tuesday 30th: “I love the band and I love the fact that on Night People’s press release it says: ‘Please come and say hello, because we spent the budget on the PA instead of marketing’. Hopefully Independent Venue Week will benefit the live music scene the way that Record Store Day has helped increase sales of vinyl records over recent years.”
Jimmy’s @jimmys_nq Opened just over a year ago by musical brothers Jimmy and George Craig, of Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong and One Night Only respectively, the trendy venue regularly hosts a showcase of Manchester’s most up and coming bands and club nights. Jimmy’s kicked off the week with Scottish indie/rock band Baby Strange, renowned for their incendiary performances, who showed off their strident sound.
Soup Kitchen @SoupKitchen_Mcr
One of Manchester’s edgiest venues, located underneath the Northern Quarter canteen, the basement gig space hosts a wonderfully diverse range of genres and audiences. Wednesday welcomed the Scandinavian outfit of Liima, fresh off their tour. Compiled of the co-founders of Danish indie electronic group Efterklang and Finnish jazz percussionist Tatu Rönkkö, Liima treated Soup Kitchen to their unique indie vibes.
Night and Day Cafe @nightanddaycafe
Intimate and iconic, Night and Day Café has hosted the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Elbow, Johnny Marr, Mumford and Sons and more. Speaking on Independent Venue Week, Night and Day told us: “Anything that shines positive additional light on independent venues and the people that perform inside them has to be a good thing so we’ve always been happy to have IVW brighten the program of events here at Night & Day Cafe”. Highlights from the venue’s week included a mixed rock showcase of Manchester up and comers Strangers, The Mallisons, Crimewave and We The North.
The Castle Hotel @thecastlehotel
Famed for hosting a now legendary John Peel interview with Joy Division singer Ian Curtis in 1979, The Castle Hotel makes up for what it lacks in size with spirit and a host of the cities’ most upcoming artists. Highlights included Manchester-based Irma Vep flaunting the psyc-rock prowess
Gullivers pub @GulliversNQ
Another Northern Quarter pub (under the same ownership as The Castle) and another unique gig space. With a newly refurbished ballroom and smaller acoustic lounge hosting live music and entertainment from local and breaking acts, the venue boasts a wide range of live performances. Amongst the stand-out nights from the week was Our Fold, Caroline and Sylvette, each of whom exhibited their alternative, indie and rock & roll styles respectively.
Words by Hannah Walford Hannah.firstname.lastname@example.org