Now then. Dan here. You might have seen me either in my band Snakerattlers, or hosting Behind The White Door gigs at The Fulford Arms. I am passionate about the local music scene we have in York, and I go to as many local gigs as I can. You might have indeed just seen me at a gig somewhere and not known it was me. But it probably was me. I was probably there. Probably.
I’m going to be writing a regular spaff of words for Craig and his One For The Road website. I did some writing recently for Yorkmix, but after they failed to publish a piece of writing I had put together, and have since not contacted me for more pieces, I have been “snapped up” by Craig for his ever-growing website. For the record, Yorkmix can do one. They were dead keen to get my writing up at first, but they suddenly went quiet. I am not sure why. It could be that my writing is not good enough, or it could be that they think Ian Massey is more qualified to talk about the local York scene. He certainly drinks more alcohol than me. Infact, this appears to be a dealbreaking factor in going to gigs for him, if his writing is to be believed. Dueces.
Anyway. For this first article, I would like to do a general overview of the York scene as it is at the moment, so we all know where we’re at. Now I must say, these are my views. You might agree with them, you might not. But they are in no way reflective of the views of One For The Road. I am merely saying how it is to me as an individual, who has been involved in the York music scene for 15 years. You’re welcome Craig.
Let’s have a little think about the venues we have in York. We’ve got Fibbers, which in my opinion has gone totally down the pan over the last few years. I come from the old school. I remember how Fibbers was before the big companies came in, moved it’s location and then went about turning it into a soulless box of broken dreams. Old Fibbers, when it was independently owned, was like local band heaven. I used to just go there to hang out during the day. I would go there on a night, even if there wasn’t a gig on. I would also go there to discover new bands. These days, Fibbers is in a new location, next door to a strip club. It’s owned by a massive company and basically employs a pay to play policy. You have to shift tickets for the venue, which are usually overpriced, and the local bands selling them see a very small percentage in return. Now don’t get me wrong, I get that it’s a business and needs to do business things to survive. But this is a far cry away from the former glory days, where the venue seemed to bend over backwards to support new and local bands and give them opportunities. These days it’s almost like it’s against local bands and is only looking for bands that can make it money. I know some of you out there enjoy playing at Fibbers still, and good for you. But I also know for a fact that there are progressively more people out there like me, who just want it to stop and close. You could argue that there’s nowhere for the bigger touring bands to play if Fibbers closes down, but for that, there are two other options out there.
The Crescent Community Venue is the first option. This is a new-ish place that you’ve probably heard of by now, and it’s near enough the same capacity as Fibbers. So the bigger touring bands could indeed play there. They’ve got The Wytches there in February. Trouble is, it’s a young venue, so not many people know on a national scale that it exists at the moment. It boasts a huge main function room, and a smaller room for more intimate gigs. I think this venue is going to be at the forefront of gigs in York for many years to come. It’s a great idea to use the space for a venue. My first band Duck Sick used to play there a lot in the early 2000’s, but that was when it was still a working men’s club. You had to apply for permission to play there to the board of directors. They sometimes said no. We were once even told that we couldn’t do it because they were hosting a morris dancing grand final. But now, with it’s focus on being a venue, I look forward to watching it develop and perhaps even give the legendary Brudenell Social Club a run for it’s money. The only downside of this place is that it’s apparently very tricky to book shows there. At least that’s what I’ve heard.
The other option for bigger touring bands is the omni-present Barbican. This place was on the verge of closure not so long ago, and did infact lay dormant for a very long time. But it has since had some life injected back to it. The Specials played there recently, and it continues to attract big names in both music and comedy. It also hosts Championship Snooker. Jimmy White has probably been there. Oh my god. Celebs. It’s a massive gig hall and can hold an awful lot of people. Wilko Johnson is going there soon. He did Fibbers for DV8 Fest about 3 years ago. So it’s definitely an option for the bigger touring bands.
Basement Bar is still knocking about. Not an ideal place to go for gigs, or indeed to play gigs. The lack of parking is a pain in the arse, and makes it irritating to gig there. I think it’s ideally better suited to comedy nights or acoustic shows. Full band shows are acoustically challenging in this tiny basement venue. It also smells really badly of hot rubber. Behind The White Door was originally at Basement Bar, but we got told we had to move. It was “too loud” for them. Hence my comments about acoustic/comedy shows.
The Winning Post. It’s got a really sweet separate function room at the back (sort of like Stereo used to have, but with better doors). This makes it ideal for hosting gigs. Locals can drink in the front, gig can happen in the back. The size is just right for local/underground gigs. It used to be owned by some dodgy folks who put on far right gigs there, but Malcolm has put a stop to that. The only problem here is that you can’t go too loud, as the sound travels very easily to the front bar. If the room is full of people though, a lot of the sound is absorbed. I had Rocket Reducer from Glasgow play there. Their soundcheck blew the roof off, but when people were in the venue for the show, it was totally fine. They also sell glass bottle coke at Winning Post, which if you follow me on Facebook, you will know is the best fizzy drink ever. It’s a venue I will use more in the future for sure.
I’m not even going to say anything about Spread Eagle. It’s not a venue. Go to a gig there if you want to feel what extreme disappointment feels like. The same also goes for Dusk. It’s not a venue. Just a tiny odd-shaped room that nobody wants to sit in, with a half broken PA system.
Which leads me to the final venue I know of currently. My beloved Fulford Arms. What I was saying before about old Fibbers being the place to go, Fulford Arms is now the place to go. I hang out there, watch gigs there, play gigs there. It’s the best place in York at the moment for underground bands. It’s a lovely, spacious open plan room, with the bar at the back. There is a little snug area to the right of the bar, where you can take a break from the gig if you need to. There is also A FRICKING BEACH outside. Yep, it’s the only venue in York that has it’s own beach, with sand and everything. I host gigs there, the mighty Joe Coates hosts gigs there, even your bloody gran would probably host a gig there. If you want to see new music from York, this is the place to go. They have a gig on nearly every night. The nights they don’t, they still do something to do with music like Karaoke, or music quizzes. This venue lives and breathes the underground scene in York. It is the heartbeat, the brain and the lungs all in one. There is nowhere in York that I would rather play a gig or host a gig. The sound is also top notch there too.
So that about wraps it up for the venues. I am now going to talk some trash about some of the bands that make up our glorious, varied local scene. I will have to apologise to anyone I have missed now. I am basically talking here about the bands that are currently standing out in my mind. My posts in the future will be listing as many gigs as possible, so the best way to find out about local bands in York is to simply head out to a local gig! But, I will give you a little helping hand now by introducing you to some quality York bands that you may or may not have heard of.
The Black Lagoons. Always the first band I talk about if someone says “who is hot in York right now?”. These guys are ridiculous. Their oldest member is only 17 years old! To be this good at their age is fantastic. They are going to do very big things in music when they are older, either in this band or different bands. They are a pleasure to watch live, as they twist the audience round their little fingers. Massive garage punk riffs meet a swampy grunge intensity that really should be seen and heard by more people. This band screams talent and you have to see them to believe it.
Snakerattlers. Yep, that’s right, i’m mentioning my own band. Don’t like it? Skip this paragraph then. Me and my wife Naomi, made this band as an emergency response unit, incase something went wrong with our other band at the time; The Franceens. Infact, it’s original working name was “Emergency Protocols” which if you’ve played Fallout 4 you will understand. Naomi also wanted to learn drums, so we made a two-piece for her to do that. It was never meant to be as successful as it has been. After saying we were going to have a “quiet year”, we’ve now got gigs coming out of our ears and we’ve just signed our first record deal. Not bad when you consider we’ve only been gigging since last October. This band is going to be around for a long time. We play horrifically reverberated, primal rockabilly. It’s nasty. You’ll either love it or hate it.
Moriacana. You probably won’t have heard of this band, as they have only done a few shows around York, but I have very high hopes for them. They are just a two-piece, but pack an almighty punch! They are a grunge/power rock crossover. I’ve had them on at two of my Behind The White Door shows now, and they have shown significant improvement from the very first time I saw them play. They are dedicated, talented, and full of beans. I’m looking forward to watching them develop, and indeed having a hand in that development. They are a York band to look out for in 2017.
There’s also the returning Segregates, who have just signed to big bucks label Cleopatra Records in the states. We also have a whole new generation of bands coming to play gigs now, including Borderline, Mice On Mars and Aloe Veras. A member of the legendary York band Surf Sluts, is also brewing a brand new surf rock incarnation at the moment. It’s becoming increasingly harder for promoters to book local support bands, because there are so many to choose from! That can only be a good thing for our City.