It’s hard to ignore the pitying look or anecdote of some vague relative’s stag-do when admitting you’ve just committed yourself to at least three years of frolicking in the cobbles of York. Like many of life’s unanswerable conundrums, I’m not too sure whether the hen-party or the nightlife came first – neither brought an impressive music scene with them. But chin up! They may not be dripping in with A-list champagne and sweat, but there are some half decent music venues waiting to host some filthy, (but tuneful) nights out in York.
8-10 Stonebow House
Probably where you’ll find most of the gigs in York (including an unhealthy dose of tribute bands – which generally accounts for all of York’s melodious street-rep), Fibbers is the best bet to see a well-known band or two. Outside club nights drinks can be on the pocket aching side – so if you’re looking for some cheap juice to balance out your refined musical ear, then it’s best to hit one of their club events, which are on most nights (Saturdays and Mondays are a good bet).
Gigs to look out for this term at Fibbers
Scroobius Pip 30th October, Jackass’ Steve-o 2nd November, Electric Six 30th November and for a bit of tribute nostalgia Faith No More(ish) supported by Guns or Roses 9th December
Upstairs to Fibbers, you can meet its roomier sister. I always find divide between the carpeted and boarded section of Duchess really unnerving – a bit like a school disco. Also hosting some of the better artists York somehow manages to pull in, it’s a safe bet for music fans. Saturday club nights are another weekend favourite if you want to escape the locals (because they will skin you alive for their Yorkshire hotpot) and provides a satisfactory amount of cheese and rock n roll retro pleasers. Also look out for Itchy Feet, which comes round to Duchess every now again, for another retro fix.
Gigs to look out for this term at Duchess
Ghostpoet 12th October, Blackbeard’s Tea Party 22nd October, Sonic Boom Six, Glasvegas 30th October, 1st November,
Montey’s Rock Café
If you can manage to drag yourself away from the welcomingly sweaty doors of Mansion, and into the dingy crevices of York’s city walls, you unfortunately won’t find yourself fighting off prostitutes in medieval themed dress. However, it’s not unlikely that you won’t find something similar in Montey’s Rock Café. Funnily enough, it’s a café style set-up and in the corner is an incongruous projector screen, showcasing enlarged musician’s faces to supervise your drinking – it’s strangely mesmerising. Now owned by that band from a few years ago—oh, you know that song they did… no? No—I don’t know anyone who can actually remember name a Pigeon Detectives song, but anyway, the lead singer, Matt Bowman, now owns the place and DJs every Wednesday along with other guest DJ nights. Even better, at 2 cocktails for a fiver or some suggestive lip licking at Matt and you’re set up for the night’s poison.
Not too far out from the Art Gallery, Stereo’s worth the extra trek, especially for the more alternative and grimier ear. With an intimate pub setting out front and an even more intimate back room for gigs, Stereo is an awesome place to see unsigned bands and some less commercial sounds. Chances are you won’t know a single name on the listings, but take a punt – it’s usually worth it. Tickets and booze are also cheap. If head banging is your signature dance move then it’s also worth checking out their club nights as well.
3-5 Tofts Green
Big with shit flashy décor and dentist waiting-room chairs. There’s really no need to advertise this place… you’ll soon grow to hate the weekly Tokyo clubbing visit. On the upside, they do pull in some good DJs and have a choice of rooms/music. Also very good for minesweeping, but that’s a different guide entirely.