If there’s one thing us readers of Midlands Rocks have missed over the past two years then it’s live music played at an ear-splitting volume (and there’s nothing quite like the chest thump of a bass guitar in a small music venue). If you’re keen to get gigging again there’s no better time than during Independent Music Week. Running from Monday 31st January to Sunday 6th February IVW is vital in shining a spotlight on the (often) unsung heroes of rock ‘n’ roll: the venues. The Midlands Rocks took the opportunity in talking to Phil Moore, promoter at one of the regions best venues, The Black Prince in the ShoeTown of Northampton.
How has it been keeping the venue afloat over the past two (turbulent) years and what have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced?
The Black Prince was quite fortunate through the pandemic. Once we closed in March 2020 and a friend said “no proper gigs for the rest of the year” I assumed we’d go under. But with local governments grants first, and then being able to open our garden for live music and DJs throughout the summer period we had a new lease of life. For quite a while were being referred to as “the only fun in town”. It bought a new audience into the Prince fold, as well as swelling the coffers and keeping us going. I really learnt of the power of music in challenging times during that summer and will be forever grateful to have given artists a platform and the public a show during those difficult 18 months. The biggest challenge has been to try and keep focused and motivated with so many roadblocks in front of you appearing out of nowhere. I count us lucky that we had it better than others, all because we had an outside entertainment area.
How important is Independent Venue Week to smaller venues?
IVW is crucial; it gives the wider world something to latch onto when thinking about our role. It really does concisely showcase what we do, and there’s a real party vibe during the week. Grassroots music venues are at the mercy of the market, and if you don’t give the public what they want you’re in trouble. We try to offer a range of styles a platform during IVW.
Obviously, you want people attending all year round but do you find IVW funnels people into that specific week or do you think it increases attendance throughout the year?
It’s hard to quantify its impact outside of the week itself, but it should give some fence-sitters the encouragement to come and see what it is grassroots music venues do. We’ve upgraded the Prince significantly during the spring of 2021 and so we hope that once old heads return they’ll be impressed with our efforts and keep coming back for more.
Can you give the low-down on the bands who will play The Black Prince over IVW?
Wednesday February 2nd
- ANDY BELL SPACE STATION [shoegazing, ambient]
- + Maps DJ set
Thursday February 3rd
- TIÑA [art-rock]
- bloody/bath [post-punk/goth]
- Megalashhh [electronica]
Friday February 4th
- THE VIRGINMARYS [alt-rock]
- EMPYRE [classic rock]
- APOLLO [alt-rock]
Saturday February 5th
- PRESS TO MECO [math-rock]
- PILLOWHEAD [alt-rock]
- RETREAT! RETREAT! [post-rock]
Sunday February 6th
- FFSYTHO?! [grime]
- ANTI!I [grime]
In the spirit of IVW will the focus be on bands with an independent, DIY ethos?
Yes, there’s little corporate influence here! No one’s on a major that’s for sure.
Does the atmosphere at an IVW gig differ from other times of the year?
I don’t think so. Maybe there’s a few more curious types willing just to watch anything who will stand at the back arms folded, but generally everyone comes to party as usual!
Venues such as The Black Prince are more than just music venues; they often act as cultural hubs etc. What role does TBP play in the wider community.
The Black Prince is a safe space for all the marginalised in society. You’ll never look out of place within the melting pot of the crowd, no matter who you are and what your interests are. Rock ‘n ‘roll is about inclusivity first and foremost, right? It’s my favourite place in Northampton for a reason!
How would you tempt the uninitiated to an IVW gig?
A guaranteed good night out, or your money back! I’ve very proud of the five bills we’re managed to put together. I can’t imagine anyone thinking anything but positive thoughts after coming along. The pandemic is sailing into the sunset for good; now is the time to come out again and have a little fun.