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Posts Tagged ‘digbeth’

Digbeth Institute Almost Ready

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Thanks to the heads-up from Created in Birmingham, I see the website for the new HMV Institute is now live. Well I say new, it is of course the old Sanctuary, refurbished by the Mean Fiddler Group and returned to its original name of the Institute.

A few years ago its cavernous rooms were home to the awesome Saturday club night PANIC! and its basement was home to the Barfly, where I DJd for a while. The Institute holds good memories for me, so I hope it’s latest reincarnation as a full-time gig venue pays off. It’s a welcome development to add to the diversity of Digbeth’s live music scene and a more than welcome challenger to the Academy monopoly on mid-size gigs.

There’s some cracking gigs on the way with The Drums, The Psychedelic Furs, Kate Nash and Sandi Thom all pencilled in. But perhaps most intriguing is the reunion of space-rock legends Gong on 20th September.

So join me as we jump in the flying teapot and zoom off to the Planet Gong!

Birmingham’s Notorious Choir

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Once upon a time in a land far far away (well, Digbeth), I offered to help at Gigbeth. It was there I met Clare Edwards, music entrepreneur, fellow vodka taster and all-round good egg.

One of Clare’s long-term projects is the Notorious Choir, where she is music director. I can best describe the choir as contemporary, with an open and inclusive approach to membership. They also like to experiment with venues, taking the music to the people, rather than the other way around.

Normally, when someone utters the word “flashmob” to me, I run a mile. They’re one of the most cringeworthy inventions known to man. But there are the odd exceptions. Notorious performing Barbara Ann in the Pavilions shopping centre is one of those exceptions:

You can check out Notorious for yourself at their next performance on 20th June. It’s at The Spotted Dog in Digbeth (Warwick Street) and is FREE to all.

Gay Pride vs The Bank Holiday Weekend

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

This weekend I was dragged kicking and screaming away from Birmingham Gay Pride (stop laughing at the back!) down to Digbeth.

So yeah I popped down to Pride for a few hours on Saturday and really didn’t enjoy myself. To be fair, I wasn’t expecting to, but this year Pride reached new levels of frustration. There was absolutely nothing for me – and most definitely nothing to be proud about. My sexuality is just one aspect of me, and as my life goes on it’s becoming less and less important. My interests in talking to like-minded people, listening and dancing to music I like, not being judged for the fact I dance like a twat, etc, cannot be met on Hurst Street. The scene that best represents me and my diverse interests is the one in and around Digbeth, thanks to places like the Custard Factory and the Rainbow. Sexuality is totally irrelevant, what brings people together is the desire to enjoy something new and something different, not the same thing week after week.

Take the Rainbow on Sunday. In the main pub and associated rooms, two established brands, Gutter Skank and Rag & Bone, came together to throw a bank holiday shindig. Bringing together types of music that don’t normally mix (grime/dubstep/hip-hop in Gutter Skank and indie/alt in Rag & Bone) really mixed up the vibes and the people who were there. It was far from perfect – but made for a far more interesting night than yet another predictable night in a gay bar.

I was chatting to Andrew about Hurst Street yesterday. He said, “it’s just become the Broad Street for gays”. Never before have eight words rung so true!

There used to be a point to Pride. There is at other events I’ve been to, most notably the CSW celebration in Los Angeles. It should be about celebrating the victories of the past and campaigning on what can be achieved in the future. In Birmingham this year there was allegedly a theme of “Equality Through the Decades” although this was hardly central to the weekend’s activities. The community area is stuck on the periphery. For the casual observer, all that Pride consists of is alcohol and Hi-NRG dance music. Pride *should* have a point to it, but it seems to work to negatively reinforce stereotypes, which if anything works against achieving further equality.

Where’s the variety? Where’s the celebration of how gay people actually aren’t any different at all?

I tried to change things once. Many people know me as the creator of Club Distraction, at the time Birmingham’s only gay indie/alternative night. For a while we had some success, a couple of busy nights and something approaching a community. But it didn’t last long. A lot of gay people said things like “why would I go to an indie night, I’m gay” and a lot of gay people into the indie scene said they had more fun at Snobs or the Academy. We were caught in the middle and it became unsustainable. So I jacked it in. Here’s some photos from some of the more memorable nights:

Some good friends of mine are doing their best to get a night called Bad Apple going at Eden Bar. Check it out and offer them your support if you can.

The Cellar Door at the Rainbow

Monday, May 17th, 2010

As if the Rainbow complex wasn’t already the most awesome venue in Birmingham. In a few weeks time we are being treated to yet another space – The Cellar Door. Parties in the new space will flow into the pub and courtyard upstairs.

I love underground venues – it’s why I love The Vaults in the Jewellery Quarter despite the extortionate prices and tossers who generally frequent it. I can’t wait to check this one out on Bank Holiday weekend!