A Guide to Putting on Gigs in The Midlands: Birmingham Venues

Birmingham has been a notoriously hard city to book shows in for a long time, and venues seem to be one of the main sticking points, so we have compiled a list of usable Birmingham venues.

While there are a lot of venues, there aren’t any DIY spaces or any venues well known for putting on punk shows.We all want more shows in Birmingham, so we’ve gone through some of our favourites to help you out.

Scruffy Murphy’s
Scruffy Murphy’s is probably the most metal Birmingham venue. A glance at the posters outside promises all day metal festivities featuring the likes of bands with names like Goat Sex and Uterus Vomit*. Although it might seem like an unlikely place for a DIY punk gig, especially on Saturdays when you can barely move for bikers and rockers, Scruffy Murphy’s is probably one of the best.

Downstairs is a hidden gem. Firstly, it’s just the right size for a small gig. Although Scruffy’s boasts a reasonable capacity of up to 100 people, regardless of how many people are in attendance the room always looks busy, so you’re guaranteed a good atmosphere. Secondly, you can expect top notch, professional sound and lighting from experienced sound technicians – as well as the fact they’re really nice dudes. Thirdly, Scruffy Murphy’s is very reasonably priced too. To have up to four bands play it’ll only set you back £50, that’s including the sound and lighting too. The ONLY downside to Scruffy Murphy’s is that there is a strict 18+ policy – so if you’re booking a band that might appeal to the youngsters, it’s probably not the venue to use.

*Band names may have been fabricated.

The Flapper
Recognisably one of the most well-established alternative music venues in Birmingham, The Flapper is situated in one of the more picturesque areas along the canal behind the Library of Birmingham. The venue has been associated with everything from indie artists to Birmingham’s thriving hardcore scene. It’s slightly larger than any of the aforementioned venues, with a large capacity and therefore proportionally larger hire fees. However, if you’re booking a sure-fire winner of a gig then it’s definitely somewhere to consider, especially when taking into account the fact they can also offer 16+ gigs. The only real negative aspect of the venue is probably its distance from the main train stations. Whilst it’s not excessively far away, it can be fairly difficult to locate if you’ve never been there before. All qualms aside, The Flapper is a great place for gigs and also really fun to drink at too.

Actress & Bishop
Another well established music venue, The Actress and Bishop is located just a short walk from the town centre. Comprised of multiple stages, the A&B offers a range of different places for gigs. The venue is not free every night of the week, as in-house promoters often operate on weekends. However, other nights of the week are available for hire.

Your House
Okay, so this one may be cheating a little bit. But providing you don’t have to fork out a tonne of cash for PA hire then using your living room as a venue is probably the most cost effective (and fun!) way to put on a gig. The obvious pros are that you can invite all your friends, there’s a guaranteed intimate atmosphere and the punk fairy visits and gives you punk points.**

The main problems with doing house shows, especially if it’s a full band show, can often be sourcing a PA, backline, microphones, stands and all the stuff you’d probably take for granted at an established venue. Also, you have to be particularly vigilant when it comes to noise complaints and ensure that no unwanted guests attend by not openly advertising your address. This does mean that acoustic shows are normally low-risk, but make sure to double check with your neighbours anyway.

Additionally, you have to be careful when it comes to charging money; the standard procedure is to ask for suggested donations; to cover any costs you might ensue. Aside from all that though, you’re guaranteed a good time. The Selly Oak student areas apparently have a particularly strong tradition of house shows and it’s one that would be pretty great to continue.

**100% true fact

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Sarah Carey

20 year old politics student, putting on diy punk gigs in Birmingham.

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