Don’t we all dream of a night like this at Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff.

Incredibly, it’s been almost a year since (live) music died. There are so many grassroots events across the UK – even those lucky enough to get grants are struggling to survive.

Independent Places Week may sound and sound a little different this year, but it’s an important opportunity to celebrate these fun and vibrant places and provide much-needed support until they can reopen their doors.

Read more below about some of the indie gems that need your support.

Brudnell Social Club, Leeds

Ryan Jarman of The Cribs performs live during a gig at the Brudenell Social Club (Photo: Andrew Benge/Redfernes)

Founded in 1913 as a club for active men, the 400-seat venue has specialised in alternative live music since the early 1990s and is a Leeds mainstay. We spoke to his C.E.O., Nathan Clark.

Mission Statement

Brudenell is a vibrant and fun place that embraces art and music under broad and diverse auspices, with an open music and arts policy that believes in freedom and creativity, and that music and expression provide useful social interaction.

The main achievement of the initiative?

The Oh Sees played on the floor of our little playroom when they came [from the United States]. It’s one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Johnny Marr has been here a few times. He loves this place.

About ten years ago we were playing a sold out gig and a taxi driver came to the end, managed to get on stage between encores of the main band and said A Taxi for Jones?

And then he walked away. 400 people that night, and they were all there talking: What’s that? It is one of my unique memories of the concert.

Local Music Landscape…

It is unique and very diverse. You’ve got the sound of Manchester, the sound of Liverpool, the sound of Sheffield, but Leeds seem to get their influences from everywhere. It’s not necessarily commercial, and there are lots of underground meeting places like Wharf Chambers and Hyde Park Book Club…. Anyone can make an entrance.

For more information, click here.

Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff

You can’t miss Clwb Ifor Bach from the road (Photo: PA)

This not-for-profit association (Little Ivor’s Club) was founded in 1983 as a club of members to provide a Welsh-language meeting place. Today it is Cardiff’s premier venue for live music and can seat 400 people in its two halls. We spoke about the club with General Manager Guto Braychan.

Mission Statement

The emphasis is on new and emerging music and the rather broad spectrum of genres we try to represent. Some independent theatres have to play with cover bands to generate revenue, but we’re lucky enough not to have to.

The main achievement of the initiative?

I made bookings and hosted my very first Goldie Lookin Chain show around 2003 – it was a total slaughter, in the good sense of the word.

The show sold out and then 100 people joined the guest list. There were so many people and during one song the mosh pit started and I thought No place for a mosh pit! I’ll always remember that. I don’t know if you can get out now.

Local Music Landscape…

It’s a vibrant, if small scene, and part of the problem we face in Cardiff and Wales is that we don’t have enough infrastructure to focus on a fairly local level. But groups form regularly: Boy Azooga is a huge success, and Buzzard Buzzard is right now.

For more information, click here.

Joyful Cafe, Glasgow

Live music and a cup of tea at the Glad CafE (Photo:

A non-profit music venue (and café) in the South, with a community focus and programming that includes films, dramas, stories and philosophical conversations, with performances for audiences of up to 120 people. The director is Kim Blythe.

Mission Statement

All profits we make go back into the community. Our passion is teaching music. That’s why we organize workshops, visit schools and give free or affordable music lessons to local youth.

The main achievement of the initiative?

It’s hard to choose, but we had a great place to celebrate a birthday. Pastels were one of my favorites and King Ayisoba, who came from Ghana for our sixth anniversary.

Deacon Blue also organised a fundraiser for us in 2019 as we had a £40,000 bill for major roof repairs. Ricky Ross and Lorraine McIntosh, friends of Rachel [Smillie, founder of the Glad Café], said they were going to put on a full screen show. We are forever in their debt.

Local Music Landscape…

Glasgow has a very strong scene, not just in terms of Scotland, but across the UK and beyond. A lot of bands are synonymous with Glasgow, and we have a great DIY culture here; it’s a big city, but there’s a real local feel to the scene.

For more information, click here.

Louisiana, Bristol

Go to Lousiane to see the scene and the celebrities.

Housed in a former sailor’s hotel, this family pub has been around for 34 years and is a popular spot in the city, attracting 140 people every night. Joe Talbot from Idles has been working behind the bar for a few years – and we met Mig Shilles, the music manager and booker.

Mission Statement

Make sure the place is safe and open to everyone – everyone is welcome, no matter what you look like. We make it very friendly and don’t reserve anything on the right wing.

The main achievement of the initiative?

Everything from Amy Winehouse and Dua Lipa to The Strokes, The White Stripes… Coldplay have played here four times.

When the Scissor Sisters played for the third time, they became so massive that we had to bring them on stage, almost like an honor guard.

And José Gonzalez’s acoustic design was incredible: the living room had a balcony, it was summer and it was so hot that the doors were open. It was perfect.

Local Music Landscape…

Bristol is famous for Portishead and Massive Attack, but it’s actually a bit lazy. Idles has already broken through, of course, but there are bands like Pet Shimmers, Lice, Scalping that are doing really well, artists like Fenne Lily and Billy Nomates…. a lot of good music.

For more information, click here.

Metropolitan, buried

Richard Hawley speaks at the Met as part of Independent Venues Week (Image: Gary Pryor/Winehaus/Getty Images).

In 1979, a year before Joy Division played one of its last shows there, called Derby Hall Riot, the 500-seat venue began its current incarnation as the Bury Urban Arts Association. The director of marketing is Adam Comsteeve.

Mission Statement

The Met exists to take the lead as ambassadors to promote high quality art in our communities, particularly in Bury and the regions, and to celebrate and share our successes and values.

The main achievement of the initiative?

IVW was great because Richard Hawley came to play with us two nights in the last three years: It’s a show from someone who can play in big venues, but in our space he feels like a friend coming in.

He is accompanied by guest musicians – Martin Simpson was his accompanist at one of the 2019 IVW concerts. Richard spends a weekend in Bury every year at the end of January.

In addition, we have been working with the Slow Reader’s Club since the beginning of their career. They recorded their second and third album in our studio.

Local Music Landscape…

We had to create a niche and be a little different. If every band on tour had the chance to go to Bury or Manchester, a lot of people would choose Manchester, which means we have to work hard and keep attracting audiences.

Now we’ve made a career as artists by going to the Met instead of playing in Manchester.

For more information, click here.

Windmill, London

The new Black Midi road on the windmill stage

It’s named after a working windmill (the last in London) that has been close and very close to the capital’s alternative music scene for the past two decades. There was a dog who lived on the roof and didn’t seem bothered by a crowd of 150 people. We talk to booker Tim Perry.

Mission Statement

I think the Windmill is a local place in the big city. Returning to Alabama 3 and Clore, he gives the residents of this part of South London a chance to express themselves without having to go through the sausage machine of the music industry.

The main achievement of the initiative?

It was Black Midi New Road, in December 2019, that hosted two bands [Black Midi and Black Country, New Road] doing something experimental together at a Christmas party, with proceeds going to the Brixton Soup Kitchen.

There have been some brilliant concerts in my 20 years, but this concert really summed up the community spirit of the bands and the venue. Of course, the music was also very good.

Local Music Landscape…

It is bubbling at the base. Today, there are many young creative groups who have such great access to music, and so many influences, that at 18 they can bring it together in genres one would never have dreamed of.

For more information, click here.

MORE: Longest John talks about #ShantyTok and Wellerman’s success: We lived in a constant state of shock.

MORE: Over the weekend, he spent $7 million of his own money on an electric Super Bowl.

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best small music venues ukindependent music venues ukiconic music venues ukindependent music venues londonsmall music venues londonlive music venues uk covidmusic venue trustrock venues uk

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