This week between Monday 28 January and Sunday 3 February, the UK’s music scene will be taken over by Independent Venue Week.
IVW is the UK’s leading celebration of its independent music venues. These venues give upcoming artists some of their earliest experiences of playing in front of a crowd and music fans the chance to discover artists in an intimate and unique setting.
TickX has decided to celebrate these venues by awarding six venues across the UK our new Independent Venue Award. Each day this Independent Venue Week, we’ll chat with staff from each of the venues we’ve selected to explore the venue itself, highlight the work it does in its local music scene and look at the events it has in store this week.
Today’s winner is…
Today, our Independent Venue Award goes to the Hare and Hounds, a Grade II listed venue in the South Birmingham suburb of Kings Heath. Famously, the Hare and Hounds is the first venue that reggae legends UB40 ever played back in 1979, a fact commemorated on its walls by a PRS Music Heritage plaque.
While the Hare and Hounds has a noteworthy past, it’s only in the past decade that the venue has established itself as one of the country’s important indie venues. Since TickX’s records began in 2015, the Hare and Hounds has been the most prolific independent venue in Birmingham and has hosted the 12th most rock and indie events of any venue in the UK.
What is the Hare and Hounds like?
The Hare and Hounds is a stunning Victorian-style pub that dates back to 1907, harking back to the original pub on the site in 1820. The venue oozes local character – from the beautiful Art Nouveau tiles that line the entry hall and staircase to the dark wood bars and other period features, if you step into the Hare and Hounds you know you’re in a proper Brummie boozer.
While the Hare and Hounds’ bars are impressive, hosting DJs at the weekend, its two upstairs venues are what really makes it stand out, as they host live music and club nights spanning a huge variety of genres most nights of the week.
Be it in its larger 250-capacity venue or its more intimate 150-capacity room, in recent years The Hare and Hounds has played host to future stars such as Alt-J, Ed Sheeran, George Ezra and Wild Beasts with many local and national promoters booking gigs at the venue.
To find more about the Hare and Hounds, we spoke with Adam Regan, owner of the venue, to ask what makes it such a great place to catch a show.
Hey Adam! How did you get involved with the Hare and Hounds? What makes the venue special to you?
I’d been a promoter in Birmingham since the mid-90s and working as a DJ and running a record label. Buying a venue seemed like a logical step, so myself and a friend bought the Bull’s Head in Moseley and then the following year the Hare was put on the market by the brewery.
It has a huge heritage, but had been neglected for at least a decade so lots of investment and time was required to get it to the level it’s at now. I went to school in Kings Heath so I’d been aware of the venue for years and always felt it could be a lot better than it was. I’d hope most people would agree we’ve managed to achieve that objective over the last 12 years.
What role do you think venues like the Hare and Hounds play in Birmingham’s music scene and the wider music world?
They are vitally important for the cultural identity of an area. You can’t recreate the vibe of a live gig or club show on the internet. And you can’t beat the feeling of witnessing something special in a room full of people totally in the moment.
People often make comparisons with religious gatherings and I can see why they would. Nothing is more uplifting than a shared positive experience, especially in the dark times we currently find ourselves in.
What’s the most memorable gig you’ve seen at the Hare and Hounds?
That’s a really tough question and I often say different shows when asked. But the one that stands out is Charles Bradley. I’d seen the film of his life the night before and it’s very moving, so to then see him perform in our 250 cap room was an incredible experience.
Shane Meadows was also at the gig so I managed to have a beer with him which made the whole evening even more special as I’m a huge fan of him too.
What impact does being involved with Independent Venue Week have on the venue?
It’s great to be involved with such a positive, nationally recognised week as IVW. You can sometimes feel disconnected from the music scenes in other cities so it’s great to break down those barriers. It brings a lot of positive PR and that always has a good effect on the venue overall.
Which events are you most looking forward to at the Hare and Hounds this month and later this spring?
Joe Goddard from Hot Chip will be DJing all night and hotly-tipped indie band Black Midi will also be joining us during IVW. Later in the year we have The Orb playing live which is bound to be a very special night.