Facebook R&B crooner Mario has been relatively quiet on the music front for…
- Posted on May 29th 2010 10:00AM by Matt Glazebrook
Capacity: 250 in the concert space upstairs, 400 in total.
Come to See: The hip kids strut their stuff. Believe it or not, this hard rock-loving corner of the Midlands was once a bit of an indie music wasteland, despite an otherwise healthy cultural life. Touring alternative types were relegated to the minor stages at punk and metal mecca Rock City, while local up-and-comers had to make do with various pub back rooms. That all changed in 1999 with the arrival of a north-of-the-Watford-Gap outpost of London's ultra-hip record label spin-off bar, the Heavenly Social. At last, Nottingham's skinny-jeaned and vintage-frocked cognoscenti had somewhere to catch the latest under-the-radar sounds -- particularly soon-to-be-critically-adored international acts making their first UK forays. An imaginative booking policy, an intimate performance space and the crucial seal of approval from the too-cool-for-school crowd has ensured the venue's continued popularity, long after Nottingham as a whole came in from the indie rock cold.
The Atmosphere: Despite the fact it's been under the stewardship of local promotions behemoth DHP (they of Rock City and Rescue Rooms fame) since 2004, "The Social" hangs on to its indie-hipster cred. Regulars have steadfastly refused to embrace the (slightly silly) new name, while the parent company wisely hasn't messed with the bare-wood-and-a-faintly-snotty-attitude ambiance. On the edge of the city's eastside Hockley cultural quarter, its bread-and-butter is as the final staging post for the crowd drifting city-centre-ward from the Broadway cinema cafe and other hipster hang-outs: A chilled out spot for some Dutch courage consumption before negotiating the boozed up badlands of Nottingham's Market Square en route to the Rescue Rooms/Stealth/Rock City after-hours triangle in the far north-west corner of the city. Upstairs, the simple, cozy gig room maintains its predecessor's on-the-nose approach to bookings, mixing cutting edge up-and-comers with DJ nights, burlesque and the like. "It's quite a wide range, but mostly the indie/pop/rock/electronic/folk genres," says promotions manager Eleanor Moss of the current live music line-up. "The main booking policy is that the bands are likely to be 'hot on the scene' at the time, with a buzz around them from dedicated musos."
You Saw Them Here First: Local heroes Late of the Pier along with MGMT, Fleet Foxes, Bloc Party, the Libertines, Franz Ferdinand, Coldplay, the Arctic Monkeys. Basically anyone whose anyone among the indie great and good played here on their way to the top.
Claim to Fame: The Strokes and the White Stripes both stopped off at the then Social on their inaugural, name-making UK tours back in the summer of 2001 -- with Jack and Meg, in particular, shaking the little place to its very foundations. Just like that, well-dressed boys with guitars were cool again and, as surely as day is followed by night, and good bands are followed by superficially similar but not quite as good bands, the inexorable march to ubiquity of the Libertines, Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs, Kooks et al had begun. As well as being Nottingham's first bona-fide indie-hipster hang out, therefore, the Bodega can claim a small role in the nationwide guitar rock revolution that has seen drainpipe trousers and pointy shoes replace eye-liner and clumpy goth boots as the live music fan uniform of choice, even in this most cider-swilling, devil-horn-throwing of towns.
You Should Also Know: In 2007, the new owners ditched the Social moniker in order to better honor the building's origins as the warehouse belonging to the Bodega Wine Company, and circa 1932 to 1988 life as the Bodega pub. (Yeah, well, we still think its silly name). Other pre-hipster incarnations of the venue have included Cairo's Bar and Rosie O'Brien's Pumphouse. The city's own Pitty-Patt Club burlesque troupe put on regular shows upstairs, including a killer New Year's Eve party, complete with live rockabilly tunes and the standard tattooed and nearly-naked ladies. The Bodega is the best small bar in Nottingham, if you believe 2009's edition of the Nottingham Bar Awards. Londoners take note: Combining a gig visit with a flick at the superb Broadway cinema and some art appreciation at the impressive new Nottingham Contemporary gallery (both less than five minutes walk away) provides a pretty emphatic case for the existence of vibrant cultural life outside the M25.
Booking Now: Villagers, Team Ghost, Danny and the Champions of the World and others will perform during this Sunday's Dot to Dot Festival, Delays, ex-Cast man John Power, Pulled Apart by Horses and former Pipette Rosie Elinor Dougall feature on the regular gig schedule.