Independent Venue Week is a celebration of small music venues around the UK and a recognition of how important these places are for the live music industry, as they incubate local talent and give artists their first experience of playing live in front of an audience. For fans, they also provide low cost original entertainment and an opportunity to get up close to artists that one day, may well be playing stadiums and festival main stages.
Old Bakery Studios 01/02/18 – 03/02/18
The Old Bakery Studios were the only venue in Cornwall to get involved in this national venture. They did so because they are committed to championing Truro, to bringing fringe events to the city, and to showcasing some of the best, talent around. On Indie night, Catherine King the owner of Blewetts Bakery on the river in Truro said “There’s a lot of talent in Cornwall and we’re proud to be hosting some of it tonight”. She then explained how she and her team are developing the Bakery Studios as a space for artists and creatives, with over 70 businesses and art studios based there in the upstairs floors. “Underneath it all was a huge factory floor which was full of junk… we could see it was a diamond in the rough, a venue in the making…”. It has taken a lot of work but they have sensitively cleared out this space and a grungy, immersive and intimate gigging, comedy and theatre space has been born.
At the beginning of the month there was some trepidation, as to whether the three nights would break even as there are a lot of overheads when putting on gigs. Each band has to be paid along with all the ancillary staff, sound engineers, stage techs, security, bar staff etc and other running costs. Putting on three nights in a row in a relatively unknown venue was a huge risk. Judging from the attendance however it’s a gamble that has paid off. Live, original music is alive and well in Cornwall and the Old Bakery Studios are firmly on the map as one of the best live music venues in the region!
Indie Night (01/02/18)
This featured 4 bands, 3 of which are the progeny of Truro College’s music programme. Swine were up first. It was their debut gig but singer Neve oozed confidence and attitude and their drum and bass set had the audience jumping and cheering from the first song. They were followed by The Rezner, then Himalayas (from Cardiff) and the evening came to a climax with The Velvet Hands. All three are up and coming bands who are just starting to make a name for themselves. All three were superb and the Indie night as a whole reminded me what it feels like to be young and discovering live music for the first time!
Most of the audience were students; several appeared to be devoted fans, head over heels in love with the music. In the front rows, crammed as close to the stage as they could get, there was a sense of joyous rapture. At the back of the venue, among the more time-served gigsters, comparisons were being drawn with Sheffield in the 80’s and Manchester in the 90’s and a there was a buzz of excitement about the amount of young talent being incubated in Cornwall at the moment.
Punk Night 02/02/18
This was a night of proper old school entertainment with a capital E for Excellent! Plymouth lads No-Robell were full of youthful brimstone and fire and their sweaty set was a passionate diatribe against fascism and other evils. Swansong a powerful female fronted foursome were also angry, but in an irreverent way. The Eyelids, as usual, were full of joie de vivre and ramped up the energy in the room 100% (I love this band!); and then Bastard came on…
Loud, rude, mourning the demise of genital lice… hilarious, mind bending and body bending… this band brought the night to an unforgettable climax. Ele the bass player also sparked several severe crushes with her phenomenal playing and yoga contortions. The finale was an impromptu rendition of Wig Wam Bam whilst singer Deek sat exhausted on the floor, and Kelly (Eyelids) and Nat (Swansong) got back on stage to provide a rousing chorus.
Rock Night 03/02/18
As a finale to the week this couldn’t have been better. Three incredible bands on one stage. Youthfully exuberant Hypophora kicked off and rocked the room even though it was early doors. Heavy metal quintet Godstone kept the feeling of euphoria high with their massive sound and tight, funked up rhythms. It was intense, heavy as hell and my ears are still playing it back to me… wonderful stuff and I can’t wait for their debut EP this April! The final show was provided by Devonian favourites Moriaty. New songs, new guitars, new sounds, the same dark humour and epic experience! Highlights included Sarah-Marie from Honey being dragged on stage to sing, and a break-out session with Jordan moshing with the audience! A very fitting end to to this epic “week”!
Photo credits: most of the photos above were taken by Live Bands Cornwall. Bastard and No-Robell shots were provided by Brian Robinson and Gerry Wood. The Old Bakery painted corridor was taken by David Paling.