Independent Venue Week and why you should support local music

As someone who grew up listening to all kinds of music, going to a gig is more of an experience of discovery than just going for a night out. There are times where you come away wishing you were in a band – if you had any musical talent, of course – just because you see how much fun everyone has.

Firebug in Leicester hosted Gnarwolves, a punk rock band formed in Brighton, on Wednesday 27th January as part of Independent Venue Week.

Independent Venue Week is a crucial time to recognise the important work of small venues around Britain as well as appreciate the hard work that goes into hosting gigs for music of every genre. This year’s celebration of independent venues was from 25th to 31st January.

Photo by Jessica Allen

Photo by Jessica Allen

Gnarwolves fill their set with a mixture of older tracks and songs from their debut self-titled album. History Is Bunk and Community, Stability, Identity go down very well with the crowd in the 100 capacity venue. There are a few ramblings from guitar-and-vocalist Thom Weeks, including: “Be thankful you’re not a bear, because you’d be hibernating rather than seeing us right now” and friendly banter with the crowd – especially with an informal discussion on capitalism… Gnarwolves, a band who are totally independent and have released music themselves rather than being affiliated with a label, are a perfect example of a band to play in Independent Venue Week. Playing a total of 16 songs in just over 45 minutes, the band are well worth every penny spent on seeing them. Rating for seeing a great band in a small venue? 5/5.

“Being an independent band who do everything off our own back, it’s really important to us to support Independent Venue Week and other independent music, and we just love playing shows around the country,” says Thom after their performance. It’s an embodiment of why everyone should support independent music and independent venues: there are far too many O2 Academies and arenas that steal from you the sense of amazement you get from gigs at smaller venues, and are stealing their business – many small and independent venues close every year, one of which recently has been The Owl Sanctuary in Norwich which is due to close at the end of this month (but they’re contesting it! Follow their progress on their Facebook).

Bowels in 2016. Photo from their official Facebook page.

Bowels in 2016. Photo from their official Facebook page.

Independent venues are crucial to the support and development of any small or independent artist. Ashwin Bhandari, drummer of London-based band Bowels, has experienced this first hand.

“The purpose of starting a band shouldn’t be to try and make it big or kid yourself that the music your doing realistically is going to pay your bills,” he said. “It’s about being part of a community of like minded individuals. Independent venues are fantastic for giving platforms to bands that have only just started out, regulars, or even massive bands who feel like doing one-off gigs for their most committed fans. As great as O2 Academies are for bringing a more mainstream appeal to the general public, nothing beats a sweaty 500 capacity venue under busy high streets like The Underworld in Camden, all while you’re screaming your lungs out to your mates bands.”

Watch Bowels’ entire performance at The Islington below.


Jessica Allen

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