BIMM Cities


21st September 2017


It can be daunting trying to get gigs in a new city when you don’t know where to look. So, we’ve put together this handy short feature on the venues you’d start gigging at, through to larger ones once you’ve built your adoring fan base.

And so it begins…

Just starting out? It’s a good job that Birmingham is home a lot of entry-level sized venues then! The first stop for most bands tends to be venues like The Sunflower Lounge, The Flapper and the Actress & Bishop. These venues are all around 150 capacity, so if you can’t sell it out just yet – don’t worry! The smaller venues still look busy with half the capacity in. For acoustic shows, Kitchen Garden Café and ORT are perfect as these rooms hold less than 100.

Moving on up…

Once you’ve had busy crowds at venues like The Sunflower Lounge a few times, there are still quite a few options for steady progression. The Hare & Hounds is one of your best bets, as the venue has two rooms with capacities of 150 and 250 respectively. In this instance, if you’re struggling to get people to Kings Heath on a wet Wednesday in November, you may have the option of the smaller room to fall back on.

The main venues in the city – O2 Academy and O2 Institute – both also have smaller rooms of 250 and 300.

Taking a big step…

Once you’ve conquered the Hare & Hounds and O2 Academy3 you’ll find less mid-sized venues in the city, but you still have options. The natural step would be to move up to the O2 Academy and Institute’s middle venues (600 capacity) but a safer – and cheaper – option would be to tackle The Asylum which is the same size.

Taking a bigger step…

Not many bands make it this far, so if you can, fair play! You can follow in the footsteps of Peace and Swim Deep by hitting up the O2 Institute main room (1,500 capacity). The Town Hall is also an option some bands take, as it tends to be the middle ground between the O2 Institute and the O2 Academy main room.

The impossible dream…

You’ve done well if you manage to get this far! The O2 Academy – with its 3,000 capacity – is the pinnacle of venue capacities in the city, only bettered by arena sized venues. Just a few local bands in recent times have made it this far, but if you can have a career half as successful as Peace and The Twang you’ll have done well!


Richard Franks

Richard Franks - Editor of Counteract Magazine. Counteract Magazine is an online magazine dedicated to local music for Birmingham and the West Midlands.