Some metal, earlier today.
First, read this article by Robin Laboratory.
I think Rob makes some good points.
I hate to hark back to forgotten times but The Dial? The Wherehouse? Where are the replacements for these venues? If you google Derby Wherehouse, it comes up with a who’s who of nineties indie bands that played there.
The above is certainly true. The Dial particularly is sorely missed in Derby because it was an adventurous, bold venue run by someone who was passionate about music as an art form, not just aural wallpaper to sell drinks over. And he paid local bands like mine real, actual money for playing. None of this “free gig” shite:
I also remember seeing fantastic bands at The Wherehouse. The BMX Bandits, Even As We Speak, Bikini Kill, The Boo Radleys, Huggy Bear. At the time, I even got a bit blasé about it all and didn’t go to some gigs through sheer laziness.
Truly, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.
Nowadays you have to trog across to Nottingham and get shot in the face by a crackhead if you want to catch bands of that level.
The only local venue that’s had bands I’ve wanted to see since I moved back to Derby has been The Vic. If it wasn’t for The Vic, I wouldn’t have seen stunning gigs by Red Animal War, Throwdown, The Mystery Jets, Jetplane Landing, Good Shoes and loads of others.
But as good as it is, The Vic is only a small venue.
It’d be lovely to have a Rescue Rooms-sized venue back in Derby, with that kind of vibe about it too. Although it was a lot smaller, this is essentially what The Dial used to be. It was an alternative bar and venue. By which I mean average blokey bloke pissheads wouldn’t go in there because they’d heard it was a gay bar. You know the kind of blokes I mean – the ones who’re spilling out of Revolution and Walkabout every weekend. They have a zero interest in music coupled with a high interest in kicking your head in for no reason.
So The Dial, like The Blue Note back then, was a home for freaks and their excellent music tastes. It even became a beacon for non-Derby freaks: when my band supported Primal Scream there in 1989, I looked out into a packed venue. Every indie kid in the Midlands seemed to have turned up. They were practically hanging off the rafters. So, yeah, The Dial is missed. Which brings me neatly to…
On the other hand, I have NEVER heard anyone complaining about the lack of a 12000 seat arena.
Can you see what’s going on here? I’ve never heard anyone moan about the lack of a 12,000 seater venue either. But I have heard an immense amount of moaning about the lack of bigger bands coming through Derby.
Yeah, it’d be great to have a local venue bigger than The Dial used to be, bigger than The Vic is now which has, say, around 1,800 capacity and a good central location… hold on – haven’t we got that?
What the hell is The Assembly Rooms doing?
Yep, thanks to outside promoters like Bloodstock and Micky Sheehan, they occasionally have something on for people under 80. But ask any band that’s ever had dealings with the venue and they’ll tell you that their conditions and charges are so high, it’s basically not worth playing there.
Wouldn’t it be nice if that great, hulking building was as full of pop music and bigger bands as it used to be in the ’80s? Between now and Christmas, they’ve got exactly two contemporary pop/rock acts on: The Ordinary Boys and Embrace. In the ’80s, there would have been one or more a week. And if you think I’m exaggerating, check this out.
I’m not as against the idea of a 12,000-seater venue as Robbie is. It’s just that I know that the bands that can fill that size venue are bands I have no interest in seeing. Think of bands bigger than The Ordinary Boys but smaller than the Chilli Peppers. Yep. Pretty grim.
On the other hand, I think Robbie’s wrong here:
The only bands it gets will be stereophonics and Rod Stewart (essentially the bands that would have played Pride Park but are scared they wont sell it out).
If it was someone else planning this, I’d agree. But since it’s the Bloodstock peeps, I think they’ve got plans to use it for some future mega-metal events they’re planning. Think about it: if it’s built somewhere around Pride Park (plenty of space opposite the train station still), there are hotels nearby and good roads in and out. They might even be able to do some kind of metal All Tomorrows Parties. And with a 12,000 capacity, they could get in bigger metal acts and rely on the dedication of metal kids internationally to fill that space. After all, they already travel here to the Assembly Rooms, why wouldn’t they want to go and see bigger metal acts in a better venue?
So, if this gets built, it may be very good news if you’re into metal. But when it’s not being used for those acts, it may indeed end up being home to Stereophonics-style turgidity. It’ll be ideal for the people who only buy one album a year. From Tescos. Before going to Walkabout to get pissed and harangue passing girls.