Small venues are more than just the place where unknown bands take their first steps onto the circuit; for many people, they’re where you fall in love with live music for the first time. That’s why we’re so pleased to announce our shortlist for Britain’s Best Small Venue in association with Jack Daniel’s, as voted for by you out of hundreds of small venues the length and breadth of the land. The poll to determine this year’s winner is open now, so cast your final vote here. But in the meantime, here’s the lowdown on our first batch of nominees – The Brudenell Social Club, The Square, Ramsgate Music Hall and The Sugarmill. Check back tomorrow to read more about our next group of nominees.
BRUDENELL SOCIAL CLUB
Opened: The building has been in use since 1913, but started hosting gigs in the early 90s.
Best ever gigs/moments: “There’s been some very memorable ones that stand out, like The Oh Sees, who played in our Games room and are now the leaders of the garage-rock movement in the US. There was also Cribsmas, the three nights we did with The Cribs back in 2007, where Kaiser Chiefs, Franz Ferdinand and Kate Nash were supporting – that’s one that’s gone on to become part of the Brudenell’s folklore.” – Nathan Clark, General Manager
Upcoming gigs: Deerhunter, Wednesday, November 4th; Kurt Vile, Tuesday, November 17th; Los Campesinos, Friday, November 20th; The Rezillos, Saturday, December 5th; H09909, Thursday, December 10th.
Best ever gigs/moments: “One of the highlights that people always talk about is when Steve Lamacq came back to the venue in 2000 and did a live broadcast of a Coldplay gig for Radio 1, just before that first album exploded – I wasn’t working at the venue back then, but I was there as a punter. The Subways are another band who started off at our new band nights, and they’ve always come back to play Christmas shows and tour warm-ups. We’re the only live music venue in the town, and because of what’s going on with small venues nationwide, we’re one of the last ones standing in Essex.” – Adam Smith, Venue Manager
Upcoming gigs: UK Subs, Friday, November 6th; INME, Saturday, November 14th; Nine Below Zero, Friday, November 20th; Collapsed Lung, Saturday, November 20th; Gaz Coombes, Tuesday, December 8th.
RAMSGATE MUSIC HALL
Best ever gigs/moments: “We’ve had some pretty special stuff happening over the last month or so – we had Beak, Jim Jones and Sebadoh, who’ve been going since 1986, and told us that their show at the Music Hall was in their top five gigs of all time! This year alone we’ve had people like C Duncan, Neneh Cherry and GoGo Penguin, who were up for last year’s Mercury prize. We’ve only been open for two years, but we’re making a lot of friends, because we look after the bands properly, and they always leave with a smile on their faces.” – Julian Bigg, Co-owner
Upcoming gigs: Darkstar, Friday, November 6th; The Wytches, Friday, November 13th; Braids, Wednesday, November 18th; Viet Cong, Wednesday, November 25th; Bill Ryder Jones, Wednesday, December 9th.
Best ever gigs/moments: “We had Foals play here just before they released ‘Holy Fire’ and Yannis was swinging from the lighting rig, which terrified us at the time, but was also pretty awesome to watch. We also had Johnny Marr earlier this year, who sold the venue out in 15 minutes – when I told him he’d broken Ian Brown’s record for the fastest Sugarmill sellout, he started laughing and saying he was going to ring him up to tell him. Stoke on Trent is not an affluent city by any stretch – we’ve got a lot of unemployment and a lot of poverty here, but the Sugarmill is a beacon of hope for any kid who picks up a guitar, or a copy of NME. When I was growing up here, the Sugarmill was like my church!” – Danni Brownsill, Head Promoter
Upcoming gigs: Cast, Thursday, November 12th; Lucy Rose, Tuesday, November 17th; Pretty Vicious, Monday, November 30th; Fat White Family, Thursday, December 3rd; Orange Goblin, Friday, December 11th.