29th November 2017


We caught up with BIMM Manchester Music Journalism student Zara Huxley in the wake of her highly successful live metal event at the Zombie Shack to hear her candid take on the ins and outs of putting on a live music club night. 

Metal music – Some love it, some hate it…I adore it!

Metal music helps many people gain a sense of identity. You feel a part of something. Everyone joins the metal subculture for their own reason. Some may have joined just because they like the music, the chaotic atmosphere or the style. However, some see the music as a form of resistance – A place for you to reject your culture’s views and values by reasserting your own identity. The music is a release for people, it can help them forget about the hardships of everyday life. A metal gig is a euphoric and cathartic experience.

I have thrived off the metal scene since I was little. My dad taught me how to head bang to Black Sabbath’s, ‘Master of Reality’ album when I was 7, so I was just destined to be a metalhead. Going to gig after gig since I was young, I knew that I wanted to run my own, one day.

Was I ready for promoting? Was I ready to run my own metal night? I received a few words of wisdom from the promoter at Grand Central and his friend. The promoter told me all the good and the bad when putting on shows, he turns to me laughing, “Welcome to the business, Zara”. His friend jokingly follows, “Ah, she’s a Journalist, she’s got no soul anyway!”

Even though I found it amusing, I knew there was some truth behind their words – about how difficult the promotions world can be. (Don’t worry though, I’m sure I do have a soul).

I was determined to put on a show that was organised, fair to everyone involved and of course, enjoyable! I wanted it to be a project that I could be proud of.

Plan, plan, plan! List’s spread across my walls, covering every inch of my room. My budget plan, potential venues, bands, equipment, money for bands and the sound engineer, expected attendance, poster designs, radio announcement ideas and ideas for social media. It was a lively and hectic time.

I wanted the gig to take place in a smaller venue, which is why I decided to use the Zombie Shack. It was the best place for the earthy, ground rumbling bass and drums to radiate around the room. The sound engineer kept looking at me, grooving and pulling a Meshuggah face when the thunderous music kicked in.

I wanted a variety of bands that would cater everybody’s tastes, Grindcore, Black Metal, Progressive and Death Metal – this made for an entertaining night With the guttural pig squeals about Donald Trump, the corpse paint and fake blood splattered in the toilets, seeing a female lead singer and guitarist hold such power in a band and of course, the monstrous headbanging and mosh pitting, I was certainly happy with the way the night went.

Getting extraordinary bands and a skilful sound engineer was the easy job. It was gathering all of the equipment and carrying it to the venue that was exhausting. The desperate run in the Manchester rain for a guitar cab an hour before the gig was probably one of the most memorable parts of the evening. If you saw a wet haired, freezing girl running around BIMM and many pubs frantically asking if anyone had a guitar cab, that was me!

I’m certainly pleased with how the night went. The attendance was way better than expected, however, the advertisements for cheap drinks probably helped that! It was nice to look down the spiral staircase of the Zombie Shack and see people queueing before the doors opened. My boyfriend and I shared a glance of “this is exciting” when we were greeting metalheads at the ticket booth. The one moment I will cherish the most, was when I walked into the venue and saw everything my friends and I had done. Everywhere you looked there were waves of metalhead’s hair and a variety of people wearing band t-shirts, all talking about which band they were most excited for. The weight of weeks of stress just lifted off my shoulders.

I’m already itching to put another gig on. I can’t wait to start planning my next.


If you’re interested in studying a Music Journalism course like Zara, you can find all the details HERE.


Zara Huxley