Our Writers’ Guide to Brighton Arts
According to research commissioned by the Brighton and Hove city council, near 10 million people a year visit the city during the day and almost 5 million come to stay for the night, and it seems almost impossible to ignore the sense that the incredible, vibrant artistic scene we all share is perhaps the biggest magnet. Whether it is film guru’s, theatre-goers or anyone desperate for a quality gig, people come from far and wide to smell the fruits of this city’s creation. Badger Writers Rhys Baker, Sophie Coppenhall and Georgia Grace open the door to their favourite spots in town.
A weekend must, Concorde 2 is the club that made Brighton for me. From hosting some of the biggest global acts, to putting on dances for flamboyant fancy dress events. The cold, damp, and wobbly walk to the far corner of the seafront is always worth it. Dubbed as Brighton’s number one music venue, Concorde 2’s sheer size – stretching across three rooms, and state of the art L-Acoustics sound system makes the space a massive contender on the music front.
This term the venues is presenting bass heavy Mungo’s Hi-Fi and Gentleman’s Dub Club, as well as funk central Craig Charles and The Brighton Soul Train, and for all the gig-lovers Amber Run, Ghostpoet, and Manchester Orchestra will be gracing the stage.
I was introduced to C2 in my first year through the wonderfully eccentric Gypsy Disco, a euphoric night with fire-breathers on stage, belly dancers in the crowd and circus performances from the ceiling. After that, the venue became a weekend compulsion, with the odd gig in the week. Need I say more?
The Green Door Store is a local’s favourite for scouting out the newest developments on the Brighton DIY scene, and now home to the new generation radio station Platform B – Juice Brighton’s latest venture. Located directly under the Brighton Railway Station, The Green Door Store is one of the town’s most loved music hubs, this is down to its ethos and policies of – fourteen plus events per week, and the bar is always free on entry.
Gigs to look out for this term include Yak, Tom Walker, and King Mob’s All Dayer – a celebration of Brighton-based music magazine/zine King Mob’s third print, an all-day gig with locally sourced and selected bands. While a monthly club night to highlight on your musical calendar is Sonic Switch – Brighton’s most successful record label Tru Thought’s monthly night. Presented by label founder and A&R Rob Luis, who plays an impressive and eclectic five hour back stab of Bass, Hip Hop, Soul, Drum & Bass, Reggae, Dubstep, Funk, Tropical & Beats.
Like the majority of freshers before me, my introduction to GDS was through Donuts – Brighton’s finest Hip-Hop night, which has now sadly been reallocated to Patterns. That being said, the club night was a pathway, resulting in me spending countless afternoons watching local bands and drinking half pints.
Situated off London Road sits the Duke of York’s Picturehouse; said to be Britain’s oldest cinema in perpetual operation, the venue is refreshingly traditional in furnishing yet avant-garde in its cinematic programming. The cinema screens a mixture of new-release blockbusters, underground cult masterpieces (their ‘Culture Shock’ screening events) and popular classics (available on ‘Vintage Sundays’). Audio Description is available for most screenings at The Duke of York’s, provided via headset, and selected pictures offer Hard of Hearing subtitles. Picturehouse (cinema chain) venues host free monthly film screenings, for students, through ‘Slackers Club’, hosted by E4 (previous screenings include It, The House, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and Kong: Skull Island). Club membership is free and can be obtained at any Picturehouse venue when an appropriate, valid Student ID is presented. Further information can be found on the Slackers Club Facebook page. Various other exclusive deals are available to students through Picturehouse venues, which can be explored on each individual cinema’s website. These offers include discounted memberships and 2-for-£10 tickets to Picturehouse Screen Arts showings. The Duke of York’s has detailed accessibility information available on its website, which is worth noting before visiting.
Duke’s is also part of arts and entertainment venue Komedia on Gardner Street, in Brighton’s central North Laines. Fairly small, with its two screens, yet comfortable and very well-equipped, Duke’s at Komedia shows various wide-releases along with underground gems (similarly to the Duke of York’s). The cinema runs ‘Discover Tuesdays’, featuring screenings of novel and relatively unknown films, and shows a high number of performance programmes as Screen Arts events (opera, art exhibitions, ballet and orchestral concerts). Other student deals mentioned prior (in relation to the Duke of York’s venue) are also available through Duke’s at Komedia. Both cinemas offer a broad range of films, catering to all tastes and age groups, and are facilitated to provide outstanding service to visitors. As with the Duke of York’s, it is worth exploring access options prior to arrival at the venue through phone enquiry (the number being available on the Duke’s website).
The Old Market – affectionately known as TOM – is hands down one of the most exciting theatre, music and arts venues in the city. It’s a little out of the way – just past the bandstand as you head into Hove – but it’s definitely worth a leisurely stroll down the seafront to check out what the venue has to offer. Its incredible selection of innovative, contemporary events and performances make waves, smash boundaries and defy easy categorisation. The independent venue is funded and managed by artists and holds the principles of accessibility and diversity central to its practice. They provide a platform for oft-neglected local, amateur and community work, whilst never scrimping on quality, and have regular concessions prices including for students.
If phrases like ‘game theatre’, ‘virtual reality’ and ‘interactive scripting’ make you curious, then it is well worth checking out during your time in Brighton. In the coming weeks, you can look forward to Freud-inspired virtual reality experience WHIST and the self-proclaimed “theatre of the future”, interactive performance REMOTE.
Arguably the most iconic LGBTQ+ venue in Brighton, The Marlborough is home to a hearty pub downstairs – complete with pool table and vegan kitchen – and a pioneering theatre upstairs. Centrally located in Old Steine, about five minutes from the pier, the venue is easily accessible via Brighton’s major bus routes, and makes a great alternative stop on your night out on the town.
Brimming with ideas and energy, The Marlborough is a prime example of the forward-thinking and off-beat charisma that makes Brighton, Brighton. The theatre hosts a wide variety of innovative performers, often addressing themes of gender boundaries, expression and sexuality. This month’s Medea, Written in Rage is a theatre-music mash-up and reworking of the Ancient Greek classic brimming with gender-play and sexual energy, whilst next month you can catch Reverend Billy’s Trump Depression Hotline Tour for unashamedly outspoken, and rather absurd, political comedy.