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Best music venues in Sussex
If you're planning a visit to Sussex and you're a fan of live music, this is the post for you. We've got the lowdown on the best music venues that Sussex has to offer.
Someone Anyone at The Printworks, 2017
The Printworks – Hastings
The Printworks is a very stylistic bar with a rustic feel about it. With brick interior, a large clock behind the bar and a spiral staircase to the side of the stage, there are certainly some very distinguishable features to separate The Printworks from your usual music venues.
The front door may be easy to miss, as you have to walk down a small side-alley to find it. With a great selection of draught beers and spirits, there’s not much that you can fault about The Printworks once you’ve found it.
With a two-for-one with venues, the downstairs is a chilled, cabaret styled experience. If you start to head upstairs, there is a floor area fit for 200 head-bangers, foot-tappers, drink-in-hand nodders to relish in a wholesome music experience.
Notable acts who have performed here: Børns
MAYPINE at Patterns, 2018. Sam Christmas
Patterns – Brighton
Although this venue may not be primarily for live music, the sound engineers in the downstairs venue certainly know what they’re doing. Having the perfect set-up for DJ’s, acoustic acts and rock bands alike, Patterns in Brighton is a contender for the best modern music venue in the country. It hasn’t been a venue for as long as the others on this list, but has already catered for huge names in the industry such as Northern-Irish duo Bicep and electro-producer Skream.
Let’s talk about the setting. From the moment you join the queue to get in, the scene is set perfectly with luminous paint in a dimly lit hallway – a suitable taster for the atmosphere set in the neon-themed stage and bar area. As you’re waiting for your favourite artist to hit the stage, you’re welcomed by bright pink rows of neon lights illuminating the stage. You can almost taste the fruity rum punch in the air.
This is definitely a venue for both the front-row screamers and the back-row observers. With a capacity of 250 people for the downstairs venue, it’s an intimate stage for the established acts, and not too big for the acts on tour who are still building up their following. The stage has a low level barrier leaving the front row within touching distance of their favourite musicians, and is elevated towards the back of the room, meaning visibility isn’t a problem for anyone.
2019 is lining up to be a big year for the venue, with Saint Raymond, who has previously toured with Ed Sheeran, playing, and DJ Award’s Best Bass DJ of 2015 Hannah Wants also performing in the Spring.
With the recent closure of Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar, Patterns could be a regular fixture for indie bands and rock bands, alongside their regular DJ and club nights.
Notable acts who have performed here: Bicep, Skream, Declan McKenna
Black Peaks at Tunbridge Wells Forum, 2017
Tunbridge Wells Forum – Tunbridge Wells
OK, so not quite Sussex, but kind of Sussex. Just not technically Sussex, but 5 minutes from the border of East Sussex… Okay, fine it’s in Kent. But only just.
250 seems to be a very optimistic capacity level for Tunbridge Wells Forum, but we’ll go with it. Primarily a venue for rock bands to own the stage, it holds a high level of prestige having been occupied by the likes of Adele, Coldplay, Muse and Oasis to name a few. In 2012, Tunbridge Wells Forum was named Britain’s Best Small Venue by Jack Daniels (the brand, not a man who happens to have the same name) – and if you have ever been to a gig here, you’ll understand exactly why.
Setting the calendar back to August 2017, Wolf Alice played to a sold out room of extremely dedicated fans in this award-winning venue, with every one of them singing every single lyric back to the band. This would have been quite a significant moment in the bands career, having previously played in the same venue in 2013 to a near empty room. Since then, the band have gone on to win the Mercury Music Prize award – to give you some idea of the standard of bands that are still being booked to play here.
With 250 people, as you can imagine, the room can get quite hot – a lot of sweat in the air, faces being pushed into armpits, but there is the perfect outside area at the foot of the entrance of this venue for you to catch your breath before the next band take the stage. This gives you the chance to meet people with the same love of music as you, and maybe even have an opportunity to meet your favourite band/artist before thier performance.
Coming up in 2019 for Tunbridge Wells Forum are shows from Jamie Lenman and Dream State – both acts who are ones to watch for the future.
This venue is definitely one for those who love rock music.
Notable acts who have performed here: Adele, Coldplay, Muse, Oasis, Wolf Alice
Gold Key at Forty Two, 2018
Forty Two – Worthing
If this blog were called ‘My favourite small venues in the world’, Forty Two (previously Bar 42) would top the list. There’s so much charm in Forty Two, and there are so many reasons why bands come back to play here on a regular basis.
I suspect the name is inspired by the capacity of the venue – an audience of 30 people here may seem like a hefty crowd. If you’re a supporter of local music, this is a certain hotspot to learn the names of artists before they’re no longer ‘local artists’.
The bar recently underwent a big renovation – one that significantly improved the acoustics in the room. This meant that you’re able to hear the truest performances from the stage; you can hear every breath between lines, every kick drum, every harmony vocal etc. Though it may be unforgiving for the performers, it provides a raw sound for the audiences to hear. The only thing that they didn’t change during the transition from ‘Bar 42’ to ‘Forty Two’ that I noticed is the iconic carpeted wall. Though I believe it to be for sound-proofing purposes, it makes quite an enjoyable decorative piece.
Based on the often overlooked Worthing seafront, the view from the front entrance of Forty Two is a bit of a hidden gem. The seafront provides a scenic sea-view, perfect for an afternoon stroll. Alternatively, soak in the view from the patio area of Forty Two overlooking the beach. Drinks are pretty cheap too.
Forty Two is more than capable of holding large-scale artists to smaller crowds. Black Peaks are one of the most exciting bands to emerge from the rock scene in recent years. Since playing shows with the likes of Mastodon, System of a Down and Prophets of Rage, they are returning headliners of Forty Two. Look out for Pink Floyd tribute band Atom Heart Floyd performing at Forty Two in 2019.
It’s less than an hour away from Chichester Lakeside Holiday Park and Pevensey Bay Holiday Park, so keep an eye out on the Forty Two Facebook page to see what’s on during your visit.
Notable acts who have performed here: Black Peaks
Skunk Anansie at Concorde 2, 2009. Marcus Bowen
Concorde 2 – Brighton
A central hub for UK or international touring artists of all sizes, Concorde 2 couldn’t sit anywhere on this list other than at the top. Named ‘the perfect venue’ by rock veteran Dave Grohl in 2008, it probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone reading this!
After 20 years of memorable gigs and club nights, Concorde 2 continues to book fantastic artists to take the stage, recent examples include Skindred, Architects and Razorlight. Concorde 2 has a great sound system, and the most impressive lighting rig I’ve ever witnessed in a room that holds less than 1,000 people. As opposed to some other venues on this list, Concorde 2 is a music venue first, and a club second – the focus of this building is to provide the best music experience for their guests, and they achieve this time and time again. One important factor of this that is often taken for granted is the ideal parking situation outside the front door. For no more than £4 for the whole night, you can park just outside the venue for the ultimate, stress-free experience.
This is also a favourite with tribute bands – some of the best tribute bands in the country play at Concorde 2 on a regular basis. The list includes The Smyths (The Smiths), A Whole Lotta Led (Led Zeppelin), and of course, UK Foo Fighters, who famously shared the stage with the real Foo Fighters at Concorde 2 in 2014.
From a tea house in the 1800’s, to a Bikers Café in the 1960’s, to an amusement arcade in the 1970’s, to the legendary music hall that it is today, this is more than just a place for musicians to plug-in-and-play. It holds memories for thousands of musicians and music-lovers of experiences that will be difficult to forget. If you’re in the area, Concorde 2 is a must-visit.
Notable acts who have performed here: Foo Fighters, Calvin Harris, Jamie Cullum, Bob Geldof, Sham 69, Royal Blood, Architects, Blossoms, Charli XCX, Travis
A county steeped in history, with an amazing coastline to explore.
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