While we spend January snuggling under duvets listening to lashing rain and howling wind, the night time economy takes a hit. One area that can’t afford to lie dormant is grassroots music venues. Perfectly timed, Independent Venue Week is an annual celebration of these unique, intimate places and aims to entice music fans out with a week of tempting lineups. Musical refreshment in the guise of supporting your local venues is a win-win. And perhaps you can even treat yourself to a bit of merch.
Independent venue The Trades in Hebden Bridge welcomed #IVW24’s ambassadors for the year, English Teacher, on the Monday opening night. I last saw them when they bounced onto the Rising stage at Green Man festival two years ago, feisty front woman Lily Fontaine charmingly wooing an ever-growing crowd. Tonight, catchy, clever pop tunes such as new tune The World’s Biggest Paving Slab rings out but there’s so much more to this band who can also produce nuanced and narrative-rich material, such as Song About Love and Mental Maths. Vocalist and songwriter Lily Fontaine is from Colne and there’s an honest tenderness that radiates from those lyrics about her home town. The band finished with the beautiful Albert Road. If any song was made with love, this is it.
Also appearing were Little Comets who had brought a raft of loyal fans with them from their Newcastle home. Front man Michael Coles had plenty of stories to share; he told us how the band had been thinking of calling it a day after so many years together – fortunately, for us, they decided to carry on. There’s a joyful quality to their music, exuding a warmth and a gentle energy that spreads around the venue, especially on those tracks with insistent riffs like A Little Opus and M62.
On Saturday, Splint take to the stage. The five-piece are a local band who emerged from the Calder Valley’s hotbed of post punk talent. Headed by vocalist and guitarist Jake Bogacki, Splint’s sound is deep, intense and immersive. Jake’s steady, sonorous vocals intone the lyrics over a dense soundscape. They close with a impressive new track, as yet unnamed, a riff running through it that gets under your skin the more it repeats. Jake tells me this fledgling track is ready to be recorded next time they are in the studio.
Sunday closes with Hinds, who are on the last evening of their tour. They are touring with a rejigged lineup since the departure of their rhythm section. The duo, Carlotta Cosials and Ana Garcia Perrote, are a high-energy act who lead the crowd through a set of hits like Riding Solo plus take plenty of time to talk to the crowd. And naturally they have fallen in love with the little town of Hebden Bridge.