Birmingham has long had a history of vibrant nightlife. The city has always celebrated good live music with ‘60s Brumbeat venues like the Plaza Ballroom in Handsworth to ‘90s superclubs like Godskitchen and Gatecrasher.
These days, though, Birmingham is fast gaining a reputation as one of the most exciting places in the UK to discover new music. Here are six of Birmingham’s best live music venues.
The Rainbow is part of The Rainbow Venues – Birmingham’s 11-strong collective of creative, industrial spaces that host everything from festivals and art exhibitions to club nights and warehouse raves. The Rainbow is the group’s most relaxed and personal offering.
With exposed brickwork, steel girders, seating crafted from railway sleepers and a peaceful chilled-out vibe, it’s the perfect place if you like your live music hassle-free. Listen to a local DJ over a pint in the pub area or catch a touring band playing in the back courtyard, courtesy of Birmingham Promoters, a local independent live music, events and gigs promotions company.
Visiting The Night Owl is like stepping back in time. It calls itself the ‘Midlands’ only Northern Soul and Motown bar’ and has a quirky, vintage interior. It even has a camera on the DJ booth that projects the label of the vinyl record being played onto the club wall. An evening here certainly makes for one eventful night.
The venue even has a sprung wooden dance floor especially for energetic Northern soul dancing. So whether you’re attending a dance class, live band performance or DJ night, the sheer theatrics of the records, clothes and dancing will have you realising why fans of Northern Soul believe that it’s more than just a type of music – it’s a way of life.
Since 2002, The Sunflower Lounge has recreated the glamour and grunge of a New York dive bar in Birmingham, with a strong focus on local music in all its glory. They aim is to showcase the best in up-and-coming new Midlands talent in their basement gig room while creating a cool DJ vibe in their main bar.
The venue has a bohemian atmosphere with an American slant, including craft beers imported from the States with soul food to serve. The sounds provided, however, are distinctly Brummie, with a range of promoters using the venue for live shows for local unsigned bands, as well as new UK acts.
An absolute classic of the local independent music scene, this city-centre canal-side pub regularly hosts a mix of different musical genres. It’s probably best-known as the first-ever live gig venue for Birmingham indie band Editors. The Flapper has even held its own two-day alt-rock music festival in the past.
These days it’s hugely popular with hardcore acts and local promoters such as The Catapult Club, who are keen to push its ground floor live room to the limit. If the music ever gets too much, there are pool tables, pinball machines, rock memorabilia on the walls to view, and a much-loved beer garden to relax in.
Live music is the beating heart of this cosy Irish pub just off Digbeth High Street. Different genres are regularly catered for, with jazz, blues, classical and Irish music taking weekly or fortnightly turns. On other occasions, DJs play soul and bluebeat, and punters are encouraged to scoff huge pork pies and flavoured scotch eggs while watching live performances.
The Spotted Dog has one of the quirkiest beer gardens in the UK with vintage trinkets, Victorian ornaments, record players, books and even plant pots made from toilets all adorning the large covered area. Grab a pint of locally brewed ale. The Spotted Dog is the perfect home away from home.
Part of the UK’s Academy Music Group, the O2 Institute Birmingham is a landmark live music venue. It’s in a building formerly known as Digbeth Civic Hall, which was once the first UK home of international trance superclub Godskitchen.
The venue comprises three main rooms – the 2,000 capacity main auditorium called ‘The Institute’ with its seated upper balcony; a downstairs room that holds 600 people; and a 300-capacity upstairs room. It attracts all manner of different bands and artists, from 90s-era classics such as Kula Shaker, Super Furry Animals, and local boys The Wonder Stuff and Bentley Rhythm Ace, to international touring acts including The Temper Trap and Ladyhawke.
If you’d like to know more about studying at BIMM Birmingham, please call our Admissions Team on 0844 264 6666 or email [email protected]. We can’t wait to introduce you to Birmingham’s thriving new music scene.