It’s once again Independent Venue Week and it’s a fantastic time to celebrate the integral network of grassroots venues that play such a pivotal role in the music ecosystem. It bears repeating – no local venues, no opportunities for new talent and ultimately no superstars.
Tonight we head out to one such venue, the fantastic Voodoo Daddy’s. Pizza, beer and live music are a great mix and that’s exactly what you’ll find tucked down a vibrant Norwich alley.
You’ll also find some brilliant entertainment! Up first tonight are Ecto Peach who cross the border from Ipswich. There’s no football rivalry here though and the already packed venue gives the group a warm welcome.
That welcome is returned tenfold with a superb performance from the tight and energetic four-piece. A short set of catchy rockers, the band are evidence of why it’s ever so important to get to shows early!
The mood changes next as songwriter (the best in the world some would say!) Ben Brown graces the intimate stage surrounded by fairy lights. He proceeds to serenade the audience with delicate melodies and comical stage banter.
A change of pace indeed but one which the audience takes in their stride and welcomes with open arms. Brown will certainly leave with more fans than when he arrived after a delightful little show.
Finally though it’s time for those fans filling the venue with Pet Needs t-shirts to enjoy the band of the moment! Pet Needs are one of the brightest prospects in the country right now; after all they did win our ‘Discover’ New Artist of the Year Award for 2022!
Yes, crowds are getting larger, venues are getting bigger and t-shirt sales are booming. The reason? Well, perhaps you should pop along to a show and see for yourselves, but given that it’s our job to tell you we’ll keep it simple! If you could bottle the energy of the band to sell, you’d be a Billionaire overnight.
It takes more than energy to be a great band though and two albums in, the band already have belters for days. Both of their albums have produced multiple live staples which exemplify the quality of song writing within the band. These songs are catchy as hell with sing-a-longs infectiously mandated at Pet Needs shows.
The setlist tonight is well structured and represents a good mix of their albums. The pace never relents and the audience laps up tracks such as ‘Pavlovian’, ‘Spirals’, ‘Punk Isn’t Dead; It’s Just Up For Sale’ and ‘Toothpaste’.
The highlight tonight though is new track, ‘Yeah!’, which whets the appetite for what’s to come next. The future is clearly very bright for Pet Needs, and tonight has been a great night for those making the effort.
There are great nights like this happening all across the country every night of the week. So this Independent Venue Week, please remember folks that an independent venue isn’t just for Independent Venue Week – it’s for life!
A necessary but shocking side-effect of the first lockdown and beyond is the impact on the live music industry. An industry that revolves around bringing people together in confined spaces to celebrate life and art. Music and particularly live music is vital to the mental health and wellbeing of millions of people, and the loss of that medication has added to the already scary situation we have all found ourselves in.
When the world ground to a screeching halt in March 2020, the primary concern for all of civilisation was rightly to fight the devastating coronavirus and to protect against loss of life. Alternatively as the government put it – “Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives”.
The music industry and the incredibly talented people that make up the sector is by its very nature creative and innovative. As we all searched for new ways to connect with our loved ones and our passions, musicians had the answer. Welcome to the world the music livestream!
One man seemingly ahead of the curve on this front was Frank Turner. Turner is known to be “always on tour” as it were, and was in fact mid-tour as the pandemic hit. Turner was quick to hastily ready a special livestream event from his own home raising money for his touring family.
At the same time, the reality was dawning on the live music ecosystem of the potentially fatal impact caused by the pandemic countermeasures. In particular the Music Venue Trust, who do amazing work year round even in non-pandemic times, were busy mobilising. The MVT were well positioned to see the threat to the grassroots music venues of the country.
We have gone into depth on the subject in our blog – ‘Why We Need To #SaveOurVenues’, but ultimately the venues that foster and cultivate the entire music industry were in trouble. Sadly many face the threat of closure due to non-pandemic related issues. The events of March 2020 onwards however threatened these venues, the lifeblood of live music, to the point of extinction.
The perfect storm called for urgent action and one man taking notice and standing tall was that man Frank Turner. Soon we were all introduced to a new concept from Turner, Independent Venue Love. A series of livestream concerts taking place every Thursday during lockdown to raise desperately needed funds for at risk music venues.
A different venue would be supported each week and each week would see a unique set list. In creating this series Turner raised much needed awareness and financial support for venues. By doing so he helped to safeguard the future of live music; perhaps most importantly though, Turner also provided an escape from the terrifying realities of pandemic life. The Independent Venue Love series will have played a powerfully positive role in raising spirits and safeguarding mental health for music fans desperate for a distraction.
In our first ever End of Year Awards, we picked Turner as our ‘Artist of the Year’. You can read what we wrote about this decision in our ‘2020 Year in Review’. Basically we feel Turner deserves a medal for his efforts in arranging and performing these fantastic events. Turner has raised a phenomenal amount of money and has helped countless people through horrifying times either directly or indirectly.
That is why we thought it would be fitting to celebrate and remember the Independent Venue Love series here. You can peruse the posters for each event in the gallery below.
Independent Venue Love Posters
Now let’s get started in documenting the series.
Early Facebook Days
As we all adapted to pandemic life, we strived for the best communications technology. Many discovered the wonders of Zoom meetings for example. When debuting the IVL series, Turner took to Facebook Live. A learning experience for all, some early streams were impacted by connectively issues and eventually led to a change of internet provider for Turner and a move to Youtube.
The first five events featured on Facebook Live (and a dabble on Instagram!) saw Turner begin a career retrospective; with each week featuring another release in chronological order.
Vol.1 – ‘Sleep is for the Week’ for Nambucca, London
From Volume 6 onwards Turner would move the weekly series across to Youtube with better connectivity results. Turner would continue to progress through his career retrospective to the delight of his fans. A drinking game would also emerge for fans at home based initially on apologies to either his wife Jess or his mother.
As Turner’s gameplan to play his back catalogue continued, fans were treated to rare song outings. These outings occasionally would see the odd forgotten lyric, and the terming of the phrase to Varley in ode to fellow musician Will Varley. Eventually each Varley would be incorporated into the drinking game!
Vol. 6 – ‘Rarities and B-Sides 2011-2014’ for The Parish, Huddersfield
With his released back catalogue now exhausted and lockdown one (known back then, simply as lockdown!) still persisting, Turner needed to explore different avenues for set list material. A demand for a ‘Disney Set’ initially failed to materialise until a special shortened bonus set one night.
Turner however would push on with additional themes to continue his herculean effort (Joe Wicks eat your heart out!). Volume 13 would also take place from inside the venue Turner was raising funds for as signs of normality began to appear. Volume 14 would be titled ‘The Final Stream’… little did we know what the future had in store.
No we are not doing Whitesnake Karaoke! A brief return to real life saw some socially distanced music possible. Turner in fact was able to play numerous shows including our ‘Gig of the Year’ as awarded in our ‘2020 Year in Review’.
Sadly the pandemic took a horrific turn for the worst. With venues still at risk and people desperate for escape, Turner and IVL would make their triumphant return in January (otherwise known as Lockdown three!). This time around Turner’s wife, Guise, would move to an important mediator role as fans got to pick the setlist!
We all hope and pray that a return to normality is on the horizon. That the incredible work of scientists and our key workers will save lives and allow life to resume. Volume 21 closes the IVL series with a request set from Jess Guise herself.
Turner has achieved amazing results from the IVL series. The fact is that he didn’t have to do this, and for that he deserves recognition.
The Music Venue Trust, Independent Venue Week and all organisations and groups working to protect our culture deserve special praise also.
Sadly the end of the pandemic and the return to relative normality won’t remove the threat posed to our grassroots music venues. Please when safe to do so, support these venues, support your favourite bands, support new bands, support music!
FIVE4FIVE Fest announces return with stunning lineup
Following a highly successful debut in May, the charity festival Five4Five Fest has announced its return. The May event saw the likes of Enter Shikari, Don Broco and Deaf Havana raising money for the NHS Charities Together.
Now, the two day event is set to return on 18th & 19th December. This time around the event will be raising money for the #SaveOurVenues campaign by the Music Venue Trust. To learn why the campaign is so important for the future of live music, you can read our recent blog Why We Need To #SaveOurVenues.
The lineup has been announced for the event and will see headline performances from Yonaka and Holding Absence plus the likes of Normandie, Nova Twins and Haggard Cat. More details on the event can be found at five4fivefest.com.
110 Above Festival Announce 2021 Lineup
Another festival announcing their lineup this week is Leicestershire event 110 Above. Featuring headline performances from Sports Team, The Amazons and Sundara Karma, this promises to be a very special weekend.
Joining the lineup over 12-15th August 2021 are Yonaka, Vistas, The Snuts, Zuzu, Paris Youth Foundation, Lauran Hibberd and more. If you want to celebrate the return of live music with 110 Above, tickets are available here.
BST Hyde Park add Duran Duran
Our third and final festival lineup announcement this week comes from British Summer Time in Hyde Park. BST this week revealed that Duran Duran will headline Sunday 11th July 2021 with special guests Nile Rodgers & Chic plus Grace Jones. Tickets are available here.
Metallica unveil 2nd edition of Monopoly board game
If you are still looking for Christmas present ideas, look no further! Metallica have unveiled their 2nd edition of the board game Monopoly. Pick yours up here.
Greta Van Fleet announce new album and single
Greta Van Fleet are back with their new single ‘Age of Machine’ ahead of the release of their newly announced album ‘The Battle at Garden’s Gate’ on 16th April 2021.