The beleaguered music industry has suffered immensely during the pandemic, and with the so-called ‘Freedom Day’ pushed back once more, it is more important than ever to support local venues. Without these independent hubs for live music, the UK genuinely wouldn’t have an alternative music scene at all, as frontman Kiaran Crook puts it, “We’ve all played ‘em.”
This October, The Sherlocks are set to embark on a 15-date tour across the UK’s most cherished grassroots venues as part of their ‘Keep Our Independent Venues Alive’ campaign involving a run of shows aiming to help support these spaces during their most challenging times.
The tour will feature a few different local support acts every night with the band keeping their ear to the ground for local recommendations. It will be in aid of a partnership with Independent Venue Week, whose tireless work aims to support and preserve grassroots venues around the country – such as the very ones the band are performing at in this tour.
I caught up with Kiaran Crook ahead of the tour to discuss just how important this sort of thing is, not just for the venues, but the UK music scene as a whole. “We can’t wait for it really, it’s so vital and it’s something we are so passionate about,” he excitably tells me. “All you have to do is check our social media to see how passionate we are about up-coming bands. Some of them are great but will sadly never get heard. The least we can do is take them on tour with us.”
That is the message with this Keep Our Independent Venues Alive tour. “The tour we’re going on is pretty much the tour we used to regularly do a few years back,” Crook adds. “We had some cracking gigs in those venues, and we built our fanbase in those venues, so to go back in now and play them will be surreal.”
“There are gigs on this tour in the past that we’ve played that are pretty small and I think this time around they will be insane because with some of the venues if you had 150 people in, it would be rammed.” This electric atmosphere has been sorely missed by fans and bands alike during the pandemic, with Kiaran adding, “It’s going to be weird playing in front of an audience again. Nothing compares to a live gig. You can’t beat a proper gig with fans in.”
The antics of small venues also often have more charm than their big stadia equivalents. Seeing people crowd surf for two and a half seconds across a space no bigger than a middle-class living room, muddy footprints somehow finding their way onto the ceiling, and the crazy larks of a local rogue who has somehow wandered in from the street are all part of the charm. “You can have a good laugh in these venues,” Kiaran jokes, “It’s like no rules apply. In the smaller venues, you definitely see wilder stuff.”
They are also a hub of discovery, vital for bring forth new acts. Tales of ‘I saw them before they were big’ run rife in the hive of the venues adjoining bars. “I even look back now at those days when we weren’t signed or anything and think, ‘God, those were the days, it was nuts back then’. I think that comes across with fans too. I know people who are so passionate about up-coming bands that they purposefully search out seeing a band before they got big.”
With a bit of luck, some of the exciting bands joining The Sherlocks and this highly creditable and vital tour will go on to outgrow the grassroots venues that made them. However, one thing is for certain, without names like The Sherlocks passing the ladder down and helping to save these institutions of British music, the future would be a far greyer place.
You can check out the tour dates and the band’s brand new single ‘Falling’, released today, below.
Keep Our Independent Venues Alive tour dates:
- October 1 – Electric Church, Blackburn
- October 2 – Albert Hall, Manchester
- October 4 – Portland Arms, Cambridge
- October 5 – The Forum, Tunbridge Wells
- October 6 – The Face Bar, Reading
- October 7 – The Black Prince, Northampton
- October 8 – Met Lounge, Peterborough
- October 14 – The Parish, Wrexham
- October 15 – Esquires, Bedford
- October 16 – The Fulford Arms, York
- October 21 – KU Bar, Stockton
- October 22 – Independent, Sunderland
- October 23 – The Ferret, Preston
- October 28 – The Venue, Derby
- October 29 – Docks Academy, Grimsby