Like much of the country’s cultural scene, independent music venues have taken a real battering during the pandemic.
Forced to shut by various lockdowns, and otherwise faced with the prospect of trying to operate on a financial shoestring due to social distancing, an already precarious industry has been pushed ever close to the brink.
It all means that it’s more important than ever to support and celebrate our favourite gig spots — and Independent Venue Week is the perfect opportunity to do just that. Going digital for the first time, the seven-day series will feature an array of live-streamed gigs, online Q&As, radio shows, quizzes, film screenings and more, all reminding us just how important it is to protect smaller venues.
Here, we’ve picked out five must-see events from the programme.
By far the starriest event of the week, more than 40 artists have recorded performances for this digital festival — everyone from Sam Smith and Liam Gallagher to Fontaines D.C. and Beverley Knight. Each artist will perform up to three songs from a variety of locations, and there will be a companion Twitter listening party running during the show. The majority of proceeds will go to FareShare, a charity network fighting food poverty, with remaining funds split between Stagehand and Help Musicians, aiding struggling arts professionals during the pandemic.
8pm, January 28 and 29, everybodybelongshere.com, tickets are £15 for both days
Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys resurrects his Ara Deg festival in the digital realm, shining a light on the very best of the Welsh music scene. Filmed over the last few months, based around the Neuadd Ogwen venue in Bethesda, north-west Wales, it’ll feature performances from Rhys himself, as well as Rhodri Davies, Brìghde Chaimbeul, N’famady Kouyaté and Cerys Hafana.
From 10am, January 25, neuaddogwen.com
Take 5 w/ Simone Butler
Primal Scream bassist Simone Butler hosts a week of chinwags with some of her musical friends. Guests popping by for the live-streamed series including former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, Skunk Anansie’s Skin, Sleaford Mods frontman Jason Williamson and DJ hero Roni Size.
7pm, January 25-31, youtube.com
Music, Culture and the Night Time Economy
What’s the state of play in the grassroots music and culture scene? And what happens next? They’re questions that many of us have been asking, and if anyone has the answers, then it’ll likely be one of the people taking part in this panel discussion. It’ll feature politicians (Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, and Tracy Brabin, shadow minister for Cultural Industries), industry heads (Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, CEO of UK Music) and venue owners (Nathan Clark, Brudenell Social Club in Leeds, and Dom Frazer, The Boileroom in Guildford). It’s bound to be enlightening.
3pm, January 28, independentvenueweek.com
BBC 6 Music with Steve Lamacq
Steve Lamacq is a long-time champion of independent venues and the artists who frequent them, and on this show he’ll play music picked by some of those beloved gig spots. It’ll also feature a live performance and interview with Arlo Parks, IVW’s 2021 ambassador, whose highly anticipated new album Collapsed in Sunbeams drops on Friday.
6pm, January 29, https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/live:bbc_6music
Independent Venue Week runs from January 25-31. Visit independentvenueweek.com for the full schedule