Friday, 19 December 2008

Where next for the Custard Factory and other independent venues

In the last month or so, The Custard Factory or more specifically Space 2 has hosted acts such as Sugarhill Gang, Public Enemy, Fleet Foxes, Pendulum and Amanda Palmer , bascially world reknowned performers. There only lies one problem, Fleet Foxes and Pendulum aside, all the major acts are either past their prime(Sugarhill Gang, Public Enemy) or in a different guise to where they made their name (Amanda Palmer). A 1800 capacity venue like Space 2, put simply, will never be able to attract the chart topping acts simply because the venue can't house the amount of people needed to cover the cost required to aquire such a band.

Maybe that's not such a bad thing.

Sure the Custard Factory could never compete with the NIA or Carling in terms of footfall and therefore artist size but on the other hand it opens a market for alternative acts that are gaining more credibility and popularity due to the new downloading phenomenon. Smaller alternative acts that previously only has a small hardcore group of followers now attract wider audiences due to the internet giving them greater exposure and accessabilty. The Custard Factory and other independent venues offer the perfect stage for such acts and hold the neccessary kudos to attract bands such as the Fleet Foxes and others.

So where from here for a venue that is reaching its terminal velocity in terms of ability to attract artists that consistently fill up the venue. Does it host developing bands at the risk of poor ticket sales or does it aim to in greater bands past their peak, cashing in on the onslaught of newly reformed legends (Stone Roses, Blur etc)? Can Space 2 open out into the North Yard, or open Gibb Street into an open air venue? Does it move away from music hosting? Basically how can the Custard Factory continue to grow despite its physical limitations.

Answers on a postcard to the Big Cat offices.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Custard factory’s Old Library is officially the 10th best venue in the UK

Rejoicing on the streets of Digbeth, ticker tap parades across Eastside and Birmingham comes to a stand still to salute the Old Library’s welcome surprise entry at #10 in a list of the best venues in the UK, compiled by Event magazine, the Qur’an of the events and hospitality industry.

The poll was voted for by people within the events industry and the high placing is a testament to the high regard that Birmingham is now held in, particularly with regards to its events industry.

The Old Library has come a long way in the last 15 years, considering its picturesque vaults and gothic architecture were tragically set to be bulldozed until it was saved in the early90’s by the Custard Factory Quarter in partnership with ERDF and English Heritage. Its rise to a respected and widely known conference, exhibition and wedding venue is representative of Birmingham’s events and creative industry growth since the early 9o’s. The 19th century building now has 3 phase electricity, lighting bars and ISDN connections capabilities making the vintage surrounds a very modern venue.

The Custard Factroy itself is grrowing in iconic status with everyday that passes, with more and more people viewing it as the flagship for the new found creativity that is becoming the outstanding feature of modern Birmingham.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Creative City Awards

The roaring success that was last weeks Creative City Awards has now been posted on The link is below, enjoy.

Old Library makes Event magazine Top 20 venues

As the title would suggest, the Custard Factory’s Old Library has been shortlisted for Event magazine’s top 20 venues in the UK. Sadly, we won’t know where it came until the new year, but I’m sure it will be pushing Wembley stadium close for the top spot.

Public Enemy “Gig of the year”

Not my words, or Flavour Flav’s or anyone else at Big Cat, but the words of the Express & Star no less, one of the most well read local newspapers in the country. I have to admit, despite my lack of knowledge of the group, I greatly enjoyed the gig and some of the contempory rap and hip hop artists would do well to take a few leaves from the PE book.

See review below by my friend and yours, Rita Maman:
Simply put, this was my gig of the year. Public Enemy’s (PE) only UK date on their 62nd tour before a packed Space 2.And to make things even better, their two and-a-half hour show began with It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back played in its entirety, 20 years on from its release.

The 50-year-old Chuck D clearly loves Birmingham and made a dedication to the legendary Hummingbird venue.Chuck was joined by Flavor Flav, complete with a trademark clock around his neck, S1Ws, DJ Lord and some fantastic guitarists. Remaining members were unable to fly over due to passport issues.

As one guitarist played an incredible solo another followed by paying tribute to his hero Barack Obama and a Brummie hero, Ozzy Osbourne.The riff to Black Sabbath’s Iron Man shouldn’t have come as a surprise as this is the band that invented rap metal when they recorded Bring The Noise with metallers Anthrax.The two frontmen rapped the track on the spot before Flavor jokingly asked ”don’t I sound like the record?”

Flavor was as hyperactive as ever, jumping into the crowd twice against Chuck’s advice, getting two fans on stage and holding a touching moment of silence for the victims in Mumbai.Former English and American leaders were slammed as the crowd was encouraged to keep its British identity and not turn into a ”radio/TV/movie nation” like the US.Chuck said he hoped that Obama’s reign would mean ”one world, one people”.

Dedications were made to UK hip hop, stars like the Beastie Boys who were the first act to tour with PE, missing bandmates like Terminator X and the ”five elements” - graffiti artists, breakdancers, MCs, rappers and DJs.Warm-up acts included DMC world champion DJ Switch and Mylz.The gig ended with Flavor staying on stage to make a heartfelt speech about the stupidity of prejudice as there is ”only one race, the human race”. As he changed back into a big fur coat fans sang along to Bob Marley’s One Love - a perfect ending to an amazing gig.