Importance of independent venues

Finlay Holden reminds us of the need to keep independent music venues alive and kicking

Finlay Holden
17th February 2020
Image: Dominic Lee
The chances are that, if you’re reading this, you probably love live music concerts.

Nothing beats singing/screaming along to your favourite artists performing a song that you’ve played over and over in your bedroom for months. If you’re seeing gigs here in Newcastle, the big artists may be headlining the Utilita Arena or 02 Academy - huge venues with brand sponsorship that keeps them running, packing you into the building like sardines. These places often look exactly the same as their counterparts in any other city.

However, if you’re supporting smaller, touring artists or local performers putting on more intimate shows, you’ll be attending the less well-established hubs of music, which are independent venues. These are so important to the culture of the music scene because, without them, it would be impossible for any artist to make a start; no one immediately jumps to selling out arena shows without a bit of graft beforehand. They also provide an entirely different experience for fans, bringing together a close-knit community of performers and fans in a unique setting.

Whether it be the indie grandiose of Riverside, or the grunge appeal of Think Tank, there are venues all over every city that provide a more special experience than being crammed into a room full of thousands of people. It’s great fun to explore these spaces when attending a show, getting a feel for the style of specific areas rather than the generic postered walls of a branded building. The North East has too many of these to name, giving aspiring musicians the chance to perform in front of audiences for what may be the first time, and allowing fans to not just watch the show from a distance, but be truly thrust into the centre of it, getting face-to-face with some undiscovered talent.

If you support these smaller businesses by catching a band, grabbing a t-shirt and meeting some bands, you will not only be paving the way for future stars to rise through the live circuit, but you’re also guaranteed to find some hidden gems along the way. (Also, you won’t be charged £75 per ticket, which is always a plus.)

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