Anyone that has known me for any period of time will know that I have a real passion for music venues. I have been involved with a number of them over the years and have frequented many as a punter as well as in a band capacity. Every venue has its idiosyncrasies and foibles and obviously some are run better than others.
In my recent adventures, I have happened upon one in Scarborough. Scarborough is one of my favourite fairly local places and has been for many years, more so in recent times as I have made more and more new friends there and made the journey over there more frequently. The venue is called The Apollo. I first heard of it I think sometime last year. I don’t think it has been open as a venue all that long. I initially made contact with the (then) promoter enquiring about a gig for Dawn of Elysium. The person was very helpful and friendly and passionate about music and we were very quickly booked in as a support band. We hadn’t played in the town before so this seemed like a sensible move. It was all handled very professionally and it was a pleasure to deal with them.
Shortly after that, I was in Scarborough chatting to some friends who run a local goth night. They were canvassing the idea of running an all dayer at the Apollo and we were invited to play. This was great.
Around about this time, I was chatting with the venue promoter again, recommending Bradford bands. I half jokingly said “maybe I should do an all dayer of Bradford bands?”. Within minutes, they said “go for it” and a date was booked. This was all very exciting and I set about organising “Bradford By The Sea”.
In the intervening time, it became apparent that the venue was experiencing a few changes behind the scenes. From experience, this is quite normal for a relatively new venue but a main area of concern was that my point of contact was no longer working for them. There were various impassioned and disconcerting posts on social networking sites as both parties were adjusting to the changes. I remained completely impartial as to their internal affairs as it was none of my business. I was however concerned about the events in which I was to be involved.
I was given the name of the events manager Andy Turner whom I contacted straight away. Both he and the venue manager Julian were very helpful and reassured me that everything from their end was business as usual. Questions were answered promptly and my mind was put at ease straight away. On face value, the venue had continued to deal with everything in a very professional manner. Different point of contact but same positive attitude.
On the lunchtime of the first event, I arrived as close to the stated load-in time as possible and we were amongst the first there. Andy and I simultaneously introduced ourselves to each other, recognising our respective profile pictures. I immediately felt at home (an experience I have commonly felt in Scarborough) and all of the staff throughout the day from the management to the bar staff to the sound crew to the door staff were so welcoming and friendly. The day was a roaring success and I couldn’t wait to introduce the Bradford crew to the place.
Bradford By The Sea was similarly handled. I was in the “event promoter” chair for this one and so spent more time dealing with the staff in a professional capacity. In short, they really couldn’t do enough for us, they were all so helpful and supportive of our day. The previous weeks event shadowed it in terms of numbers but we held our own in wet sales.
I have kept in touch with Andy with a view to working with him again but I have also made some new friends in the venue staff. I am looking forward to my next trip through to see them, whenever that might be.
I have since read further online commentary highlighting different points of view surrounding the venue. From my personal experience and taking everything at face value, I do not identify with any of the comments I have read. I still endeavour to remain impartial as regards any differences between current and previous staff but I have a lot of time for the people I have spent time with at the venue in the last few weeks and it goes without saying that the Apollo as a venue and the people involved have my full support and they deserve yours too. They are very passionate people who have put a lot of effort into making the place happen. Running a venue can be very hard and at times a thankless task. I wish them all the very best.
Bands, get in touch with them if you want to play. They are very welcoming of all genres. The PA system and sound and lighting crew are fantastic.
Also, if you do read anything online or receive any messages about the venue which you are concerned about, then please contact them directly. They are very friendly and honest and will be happy to answer your questions. Of course this goes for any venue.
Long live live music!