Words by Alice Barradale
Like many lovers of Rock and Roll, Brighton’s ‘standby’ for independent music venues is a haunting matter at hand. Since the government’s announcement to enforce lockdown measures during late March, the vulnerability of Brighton’s music scene has been further damaged.
Brighton is well renowned for its brilliant live music scene, where many up and coming bands rely on the city’s vast array of venues and loving supporters. Unfortunately, it is somewhat difficult to know when such venues will be able to open again due to the issue surrounding social distancing, where our beloved sweaty mosh pit fuelled venues can be viewed as a breeding ground for the virus. Worryingly, this would in turn mean that many venues might not survive the current climate and would be forced to close due to the government’s reluctance to properly support and fund such arts. The degradation of independent venues across the country is incredibly detrimental for the UKs music scene and artists alike. Such grassroots venues are the only platforms performers must showcase and promote their material and play an important role within the economic factors of a city. Independent music venues are and were incredibly important for my own development of music. My beloved independent rock venue ‘The Shed’ back within my hometown of Leicester is also at high risk of closure, a devastating blow for myself and other young maturing lovers of rock music, especially due to its existing vulnerability as a genre.
Thankfully, many like-minded individuals have worked tirelessly to support our beloved industry. In April, The Music Venue Trust announced their nationwide #SaveOurVenues campaign to try and help save over 400 Grassroots Music Venues in the UK [that] are at imminent risk of being closed permanently”. (#saveourvenues, 2020)
With only two days left of the campaign, they have amazingly been able to raise £1,213,824 (and counting) to help nurture and restore such culturally important arts within our towns and cities. Shockingly, 9 venues alone within Brighton have been found to be at high-risk, including; The Prince Albert, The Pipeline, The Brunswick, Green Door Store and Komedia.
Frontman Scully Creature, from the independent Brighton based band ‘Creature Creature’ helped provide a great insight into the reality of lockdown for many up and coming bands within the area; explaining how, “we were gearing up for three UK tours to promote our debut album before the pandemic hit. Being independent, it’s a lot of work to make those contacts and arrange the tours so it took a while for the news to settle in that they just won’t be happening this year. We didn’t want to postpone the release of our album because we need it out there to help us build support for what we do, along with bringing in a little income to help with our past and future outgoings as everything we earn is reinvested into the band. Everyone in the industry and beyond are feeling the financial strain right now, whatever level you’re at. Not being able to play any live shows to promote the album has been tough. Equally, watching many magazines go under has been hard to witness both as a reader, and as someone trying to get coverage. The music industry is difficult for up and coming bands to crack in the old climate, but this new one will really test the foundations of all the artists out there. You’re going to have to be tough to survive!” Therefore, many artists are having to diverge into new promotion platforms, where bands such as Creature Creature are having to investigate different ways to keep building interest online, such as through streams and social engagement.
“It’s not the same as playing live, and we can’t wait until we can get up close and personal with people again but that’s the way it’s got to be right now.” – Scully Creature.
Interestingly, artists have now been compelled to perform home-based performances to support themselves and their local venues that are currently at risk. The impact of this virus has led to even large bands hosting online-sessions, especially those who have yet to showcase and perform their new albums live. Enter Shikari’s 2020 album ‘Nothing is True & Everything is Possible’ is a great example of an album that has taken to social media to promote and perform their new releases, whilst also publicly announcing their support for the #SaveOurVenues campaign.
Amazingly, to help support their road crew that are currently unemployed due to the closure of venues, they have given all profits of their ‘The Last Spark: Live At Ancienne Belgique, Brussels Bootleg Series Vol 11’ to help support their incredibly important team survive the current economic climate.
Unfortunately, it is therefore noticeable to view the UK’s independent music scene as being on the brink of collapse, especially without the government’s long-term financial support for such venues.
To see more of ‘Creature Creatures’ work: