Birmingham is jam-packed with amazing live venues. Here are six of the best… so you can spend less time searching and more time gigging.
Birmingham has long had a history of vibrant nightlife. From ‘60s Brumbeat venues like the Plaza Ballroom in Handsworth to ‘90s superclubs like Godskitchen and Gatecrasher, the city has always celebrated good live music. These days, though, Birmingham is fast gaining a reputation as one of the most exciting places in the UK to discover new music. Whether you’re after intimate acoustic shows, booming B-Town indie rock or hands-in-the-air electronic beats, here are six of Birmingham’s best live music venues.
- The Rainbow – Lower Trinity Street, Digbeth, B9 4AG.
Part of The Rainbow Venues – Birmingham’s 11-strong collective of creative, industrial spaces which 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 local independent live music, events and gigs promotions company, Birmingham Promoters.
- The Night Owl – 17-18 Lower Trinity Street, Digbeth, B9 4AG.
Calling itself the ‘Midlands’ only Northern Soul and Motown bar’, a visit to The Night Owl is like stepping back in time. With quirky, vintage interiors and a camera on the DJ booth which projects the label of the vinyl record being played onto the club wall, an evening here makes for one eventful night. The venue even has a sprung wooden dancefloor 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.
- The Sunflower Lounge – 76 Smallbrook Queensway, B5 4EG.
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. Their 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, and 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 on initial tours.
- The Flapper – Kingston Row, Cambrian Wharf, B1 2NU.
An absolute classic of the local independent music scene, this city-centre canal-side pub regularly hosts a mix of different musical genres, and is probably best-known as the first ever live gig venue for Birmingham indie band Editors. 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. The Flapper has even held its own two-day alt-rock music festival in the past, but 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.
- The Spotted Dog – 104 Warwick Street, Digbeth, B12 0NH.
Live music is at 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 all 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 pot plants made from toilets, all adorning the large covered area. Grab a pint of locally brewed ale, and it’s the perfect home away from home.
- O2 Institute Birmingham – 78 Digbeth High Street, Digbeth, B5 6DY.
Part of the UK’s Academy Music Group, the O2 Institute Birmingham is a landmark live music venue, situated in a building formally known as Digbeth Civic Hall, which was once the first UK home of international trance superclub, Godskitchen. The venue is made up of three main rooms – the 2,000 capacity main auditorium called ‘The Institute’ with its seated upper balcony; a downstairs room which 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 help introduce you to Birmingham’s thriving new music scene.