Whether you’re into punk or pop, boybands or baby metal, there is something for you in York or if not, in Leeds. Here is our rundown of York’s most popular music venues.
The Barbican is the biggest of music venues within York and also one of the most diverse. You’ll find comedians, hypnotists and even the UK Snooker Championship on their event listings. Generally speaking The Barbican pulls in the biggest acts that play York (Newton Faulkner, Mile Kanes being among the recent acts to grace its stage).
This term we’d recommend looking out for Jools Holland for some blues but if you’re after something more contemporary and energetic then look at Bellowhead, the 11 piece live spectacle.
Fibbers used to be a small haunt down the steps from its former big sister, The Duchess, but the owners have just recently upgraded their space to Toft Green on the other side of the river. Formerly known as Tokyo, and regular host of the Thursday official University of York student night, the owners have decided to replace the clubs gaudy smoke and mirrors look in an extensive refurbishment project. However the work is still not finished, so what lies in store for next term is still a bit of a mystery.
As Tokyo, the club played host to numerous top DJ’s including house music legends Carl Craig and MJ Cole as well as Radio 1 favourite Mosca. It’ll be interesting to see if the owners live up to this reputation. Since moving into the new venue, recent acts have included Peter Hook and the Light and Lower than Atlantis. It is likely that the refurbishment will be aimed at creating a venue more accommodating to live bands of this ilk.
Coming up the venue will play host to folk troubadours James Yorkston and Olof Arnalds; Anthemic folk indie from Dry the River; up and coming pomp rock from The Struts, who have supported the Rolling Stones in recent times and bastions of the 2000’s indie rock revolution The Subways.
Before Fibbers recent move and renovation to Toft Green, The Duchess was Fibbers’ more spacious room mate. Sitting just on the edge of the town centre, it is (in my opinion) the most active of the music venues in York. It’s normally a safe bet for music fans, especially if you’re of the ‘hipser’ nature. Bands that play The Duchess tend to end up getting main stream interest and gathering a much greater following a year or two down the line.
Regularly the haunt of ‘Phat Fridays’ and ‘Kung Fu Thursday’ The Duchess plays host to a large variety of club nights when bands aren’t playing, and sometimes even as an after party to when bands do play.
Next term, after supporting KT Tunstall at the Barbican earlier this year, the sensational Billy Lockett takes to the stage. As well Blackbeard’s Tea Party, coming fresh after a debut Glastonbury slot and headlining the Rainforest World Music Festival in Borneo.
Situated underneath York’s finest cinema, the basement is the most central music venue in York, just a stone’s throw away from Rev’s and Willow. The venue is also the smallest with a capacity of only 100, but that hasn’t stopped it punching well above its weight. Building a reputation for hosting bands that wouldn’t look out of place in NME’s radar section; The Basement is ‘the’ place in York to catch the next pretty young things in order to aid one’s own underground musical hipster cred. Legendary producer Ethan Johns played there late last year, and upcoming Glaswegian indie darlings Casual Sex and PAWS have played more recently along with New York City’s Tall Firs, who have supported the likes of Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Magnum and Sonic Youth.
Next term, the venue will play host to the adolescent lo-fi of Mazes as well as the Psych-folk of singer songwriter Sweet Baboo and the sophisticated indie pop of The Wave Pictures.
Unfortunately, Leeds has a much wider variety of music venues than York. With the recent addition of the First Direct Arena, playing host to the biggest artists in the UK, to the O2 Academy, Cockpit and spread of other venues you will never find a night without a band you like playing.
In the spring term Leeds also has the Live at Leeds music festival, where all most all of the venues open their doors for a day of music. This year it hosted bands like Clean Bandit, Kodaline, Los Campesinos!, Royal Blood and the Midnight beast.