I have been asked to write about ‘the best venues in the North’ and this piqued my interested for two reasons:
- I LOVE THE NORTH
- I LOVE PLAYING LIVE MUSIC
So taking this chance to write about places in the Republic of Northern England where bands good and bad come to sing their woes at some good and bad people.
I love Kraak Gallery, it’s kinda crap and looks like a disused office but there’s something special about it. It has no sign and no name outside and is down a dark alleyway so if someone hasn't already taken you there, chances are you wont find it. I guess that makes it sort of exclusive. Exclusive in a crap way.
Also Kraak is the place where I met my fiancé for the first time.
Gullivers has taken a turn for the better recently. The new owners have tarted it up some and put some fancy beers on tap. So far this is attracting a better crowd and better bands.
This is not why it’s one of my favourites. ‘Old’ Gullivers is my favourite.
It was a shithole, the upstairs gig area was at the time a Fall practice space and the bar a regular haunt of Mark E Smith’s ghostly figure. In fact the first time we played a show there we were a secret headliner (secret meaning - added too late to the bill). The sound was all over the place. Ben’s drums going up and down in the monitors and my guitar and vocals going really loud and then really quiet.
I looked to the back and there he was Mark E Smith fucking shit up on the sound desk like a mad drunken professor.
A former deaf and dumb institute, now gig venue and bar. Looks great, inside sounds good and I have seen most of my favourite bands in there. I have a soft spot for the Deaf Institute because of a little lady called Ruth who no longer works there. She was great at dealing with bands and looking after them, and was incredibly sweet with us. When we first started out we both lived in Wigan. making Manchester shows a bit of a pain. If we were stranded Ruth would let us stay in the apartment touring bands use, that’s attached to the back of the venue. Nice that.
The Castle is small, sweaty and awkward when busy.
We played one of our best shows there, our first headline show in Manchester we sold it out in advance then squeezed a few more in on the night. It was a drunken sweaty mess and took a turn for the worst when against my will a friend of mine who shall remain nameless (Mark Goldsworthy) tried to lift me into the crowd, only for me to fall awkwardly on my head. I didn't move for a while and he later told me that he thought I’d died. Good place. Good night.
My favourite venue in Liverpool is the Kazimer. It looks weird, like an old theatre or cinema.
We played there for a Halloween garage night with some people committing to fancy dress and most people not bothering. I can’t remember who the headline band were but they took forever to sound check so we didn't bother/had no time so we took another amp to sing through and set up in the crowd. We used to do that a lot in honour of bands like Lightning Bolt and Coachwhips. Also it’s more fun being really close to pissed up people dancing.
Probably everyone’s favourite place to play and go is The Brudenell Social Club. An old social club that has become the choice of cool foreign and national bands. It doesn't sound good with my clumsy description but everyone should go to a gig there at least once.
Plus it’s cheap to drink in there, probably why I love it so much.
Honourable mention to a little pokey place called Baby Jupiter. It’s too small and weird a shape for gigs, but that’s all part of the fun.
I like Sheffield, it’s shit. It’s like a slightly better Wigan. My favourite place there is The Bowery, it always seems to be free entry and treats us well. Must’ve played there three or four times and each one has been different. Either party crowd, gig crowd or big groups of perma tanned meathead metrosexuals wearing pink deep V’s who get scared off with a bit of guitar feedback. Good.
Last but not least is The Swinley Labour club. Occasional gig venue, always strange. Once whilst sound checking we were told to shut up because one of the elderly regulars had to answer his phone. To see what it’s like check out our video for ‘Treet U Beta’
And the worst...
The Tudor in Wigan. Shit pub. Shit sound. Doesn’t look after bands. Shit
Penelopes in Sheffield. Ergh. Hope it’s no longer open.
Brown Brogues release new E.P Zoloto on April 19th to coincide with Record Store Day. The first 100 copies sold will also come with a reissue of their debut E.P Nobody Dies In Paris. Follow the band over on their Facebook page and purchase the record here