13 Jun 2014

Local Venues

As an avid gig-goer, I have experienced a number of different capacity venues from my tiny local venue that holds 290 people, to Finsbury Park which held 50,000 people, and as incredible as that was, I can easily say that my favourite gigs are always in smaller venues. 

There are three major venues in Norwich, and the Arts Centre -which holds 290- is the smallest one. It opened in 1977 and is a beautiful venue in the setting of a converted church. Although it's tiny, it has played host to bands such as Nirvana, Oasis, Muse, The Stone Roses, The Libertines, Coldplay, Enter Shikari, Biffy Clyro,  Foals, Kasabian, Mumford & Sons and it is also the iconic site where Richey Edwards of Manic Street Preachers carved the words "4 Real" into his forearm with a razor blade.

While researching the previous bands that have played at the Arts Centre my heart broke slightly because of the phenomenal bands that have been and gone and played. In comparison to the stadiums that all of these bands played or are currently playing, it seems like another world. For me, this really highlights the importance of small venues, and ensuring that you support them. I have been to a good few gigs at Norwich Arts Centre, seeing bands like Little Comets, (who were supported by the then-not-known 1975 might I add) Saint Raymond, Dog is Dead & Wolf Alice. Hearing that bands such as Nirvana and The Stone Roses have played the same 290 people venue really make you realise that at one point, some of the biggest bands on the planet were playing your local venue in order to get enough money together to pay the rent. How gutted would you be if you were the person who didn't see Nirvana at an intimate venue because 'they were an unknown band and nobody really liked then.' I know someone personally who attended the Nirvana gig in 1989 and he said that no experience in his life has ever been able to top seeing Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic perform together, especially when the setlist included songs like Polly, About a Girl and Stain. 

The next venue-up capacity wise where I live, is Norwich Waterfront and this is where I see the majority of my gigs. Stand out gig is Palma Violets back in November 2013 and words cannot describe the atmosphere that this 700 capacity venue creates. Copious amounts of bands have played there including The Smiths, Pulp, Arctic Monkeys, Radiohead, Paul Weller, The Verve, and more modern bands like Peace, Palma Violets, Alunageorge, Babyshambles, Ed Sheeran,The Horrors and the list just goes on and on and on..

The final main venue in Norwich is the LCR at the University of East Anglia. (UEA) The LCR holds 1550 and is where the majority of the larger gigs are held. Most recently I saw Haim perform there, and have also seen a range of acts such as The 1975, The Maccabees & Miles Kane. Although not my favourite venue, it is always a phenomenal night and so much fun.

I guess the whole message of this short but sweet blog post is to encourage you to support your local venues as much as you can. Fancy a night out but don't want to go to a pub? Why not take a chance on a band you haven't heard of in a venue you hardly ever visit? Who knows, they could be the next Nirvana in 10 years time.