Independent Venue Week: The Wardrobe, Leeds

Independent Venue Week returns once again this year, from Monday 27th January - Sunday 2nd Feb 2020, dedicated to showcasing the very best independent and grassroots venues in the UK; the venues at the very heart of every city's music scene.

At See Tickets, we are proud to work with some of the most important spaces for arts and culture across the country, providing support in the most crucial venues for nurturing up-and-coming artists.

Recently, See Tickets has been selected as primary ticket agent for new Manchester venue YES, which becomes the 50th in its portfolio of independent venues.

We have long-standing relationships with independent venues across the country including Alexandra Palace, Albert Hall Manchester, EartH, Lincoln Engine Shed, Chalk (formerly The Haunt), Omeara, The Leadmill, Village Underground, Electric Ballroom and The Brudenell.

In the latest edition of our Independent Venue Week series, we caught up with The Wardrobe in Leeds. Last year, The Wardrobe celebrated its 20th birthday with a series of incredible events including performances from Craig Charles, Submotion Orchestra and Gilles Peterson. The Wardrobe prides itself on providing quality food, great drinks and hosting a variety of live music, comedy and club nights throughout the year and has become a staple in Leeds' cultural quarter.

Tré Mealiff, Event Manager at The Wardrobe had a chat with us about her hopes for the future of this independent venue and the infectious nature of their regular gig-goers.

What makes an independent venue stand out amongst a sea of other music venues across the country?

The staffing is a key part of what makes a venue special. How professional and approachable they are, how much they go out of their way to make the customers, artists, show reps feel welcome and how much banter they are capable of, so there’s never a dull moment and everyone leaves with a smile on their face.

Summarise, in your opinion, the importance of independent venues in a local community and what the future holds for them:

Independent venues give local artists a platform to perform, a space where young artists feel at home and grow in confidence each time they play a show. They are an important cog in the wheel of developing and nurturing emerging talent. Similarly, independent venues also provide a space where young people who do not play in the bands can attend the shows and still feel a part of it all.

There is certainly a worry for independent venues, but I am hopeful for the future. We as a collective are getting smarter about how to stay alive. There are now organisations to assist us and high-profile artists to campaign for and on behalf of us. If we all work together, I believe there is a future for us.

What does your average day to day look like as part of an independent venue?

We have a bar and restaurant as well as a 400-capacity music venue so our typical day would be to set up the bar and restaurant ready for opening at 11.30am. Lunch service is from 11.30am – 3pm.

On show days, the artists would load in at 3pm/4pm (sometimes earlier depending on set up). Soundchecks would be performed till approx. 7pm. Meanwhile the bar/restaurant we would be busy with pre-show food & drinks. Customers get 10% off their bill if they are attending the show.

Music Curfew is 11pm and then there’s additional allocated time for meet & greets/merch selling. The day would usually finish around 12am - 12.30am when the band have packed up and we’ve watched their taillights disappear into the distance. Overall, an average day in an independent venue is a very enjoyable experience.

What's the most rewarding part of working in an independent venue?

Seeing young artists outgrow our venue and carve out a career path much bigger than their beginnings here with us. In the years they spend playing at our venue, it’s a pleasure to see them grow into adults and become more confident both in their craft and as people.

We also love to see customer enthusiasm and excitement for a show. What they bring to the show is infectious and it rubs off on all of us!

What are some the most iconic moments to ever happen in your venue?

Amy Winehouse playing here back in 2006 was pretty special. Tony Allen (2010) and Charles Bradley (2013). Rob Schneider did a comedy show here in 2018, we’ve got the show poster up on the wall and so many people stop to look at it, usually with the words, ‘ohhhhhh Rob Schneider’. It’s easily our most popular poster!

What’s the strangest rider request at your venue?

I couldn’t possibly say. What happens backstage stays backstage!

What can we expect from your venue during Independent Venue Week?

We’ve got four shows on during IVW - a special acoustic set from Shed Seven, new Afrobeat giants Kokoroko, an album launch show by Twin Atlantic in association with Crash Records and American songwriter Kevin Devine. It’s a good mix of shows.

What's the best show you've personally seen in your venue?

There have been so many great shows from all genres here that it’s difficult to pinpoint one specific show. Miles Kane blew the roof off, that was probably the highlight of last year. Quantic was up there too, they brought a good vibe to the venue and the crowd responded to that, the atmosphere was fantastic.

Name some of the most famous acts your venue has hosted to date:

Amy Winehouse, Tony Allen, Charles Bradley, George Ezra, Catfish and the Bottlemen, First Aid Kit, Rob Schneider, Phill Jupitus, Robin Ince, James Acaster, IDLES, Miles Kane, Tom Walker, Lewis Capaldi, Yungblud, Trevor Nelson, Craig Charles, Scott Mills.

What's the most exciting show coming up in 2020 at your venue?

Huey Morgan from Fun Lovin Criminals DJing the soundtrack to late night New York City, spinning classic soul, funk and disco from the 70s, 80s and 90s on Sat 29th Feb will be a lot of fun!

Find tickets for all upcoming shows at The Wardrobe, Leeds below!

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Or, find tickets for Independent Venue Week shows right here...

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This article was a collaborative effort, written together by the See Tickets Marketing team; Georgia, Sarah, Hayley, Callum and Abi.

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