Birmingham is one of the most active cities in the country for music – but what are the best hangouts, venues and record shops? Read on to delve in to the city of Birmingham’s musical heritage and prowess.
Birmingham has always been a hotbed for music, with reggae and heavy metal two of its finest imports. Notable acts to come from the city include Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, UB40, Steel Pulse, Electric Light Orchestra, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Ocean Colour Scene and more recently, The Streets, The Twang, Laura Mvula and Peace.
Birmingham is blessed with a number of bars that either double up as small venues or often welcome some of the city’s musical stars. Take the Sunflower Lounge for example, a bar upstairs and 150 capacity venue downstairs. Just around the corner from here you’ll find The Victoria and Island Bar, the former a popular bar downstairs and venue upstairs, and the latter a tiki-themed cocktail bar. Outside of the city centre, pubs like the Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath help the city’s scene grow, with two venues of 150 and 250 capacity respectively.
Whether you’re after up and coming bands or some of the most famous in the world, you’re in luck here. From the likes of Mama Roux’s in Digbeth – a 250 capacity, New Orleans themed venue – through to the 15,700 capacity Genting Arena, Birmingham welcomes a wealth of international artists to its multitude of venues daily. The Symphony Hall is one of the country’s most renowned concert halls thanks to its aesthetics and acoustics, while you’ve also got the two O2 venues, Academy and Institute, which hosts events across its six spaces combined.
While Birmingham may feel like a concrete jungle, it’s also home to some of the city’s best small festivals. Each year, Moseley Park plays host to the Mostly Jazz Funk & Soul and Moseley Folk festivals, with other events like MADE and the Birmingham Weekender lighting up the city’s festival calendar.
While the city may not be blessed with too many record shops, Birmingham does boast the oldest record shop in England, The Diskery. Mostly stocking preloved records, The Diskery staff pride themselves on their customer service and often offer browsers a cup of tea and a biscuit. For the latest releases you’ll want to head to Ignite or Swordfish, who both offer a superb selection of vinyl.