Bearded’s Guide To… Norwich

Another of Bearded's regional reports, this time Glen Westall takes us on a journey around Norwich.

Posted on Feb 10th, 2011 in Features and Interviews, The Kabeedies, NR One / By Glen Westall
The Kabeedies According to Plan B, when talking about local gauzepop artist Mat Riviere, Norwich is the “DIY mecca of the UK”. How true this statement is cannot accurately be measured of course but it would not be far wrong to say that the city's venues are, circa 2010 and early 2011, largely populated by bands that avoid formulated indie rock clichés.

With little in the way of festivals to offer – the closest one of substance being Latitude, all the way down in Suffolk – the heart of Norwich's music is it’s plethora of venues. These range from the popular UEA LCR, Waterfront and Arts Centre, all of which tend toward touring acts, to the wide array of pubs that home the Fine City's baddest and raddest.

Some of these have risen to wider acclaim than others, providing both lovely acoustics and lovelier drinks. For a start, The Marquee is the city's forerunner in metal and punk; on a Friday evening Jurnett's Bar hosts free sessions that has seen everything from Medieval folk revival to gloomy post-punk; every other Tuesday, OST hosts a three to four band line up at Cinema City; whilst The Brickmakers, Take 5 and The Wild Man are all notable for their ongoing support to local music.

So who plays at these pubs? Currently, Norwich's most widely known outfit are The Kabeedies, but the gamut of musicians around the city are a far cry from their indie pop delicacies. Picking only a handful, it would be criminal not to mention folk orchestra Cakes and Ale whose delicate instruments and choral vocals range between relaxing and driving. The verbosely named Amrita and the Boy With Two Heads, meanwhile, are a post-punkesque electronics duo with some lovingly abrasive songs whilst Sharp Teeth! provide a hardcore / screamo approach to punk. Bearsuit are seemingly omnipresent on flyers around town, peddling their experimental, noisy and occasionally twee pop to the under-Wash masses. Finally, the ever popular comic folk act Normal for Norfolk continue to focus on important local issues despite today's digitally networked global village, from Riverside's fashion disaster to emo kids outside The Forum.

Last but most certainly not least, should you find yourself on Gentlemen's Walk and the adjoining London Street during daylight hours on almost any day of the week, you will happen on some of the Fine City's many buskers. From east European gypsy jazz to some dude with a boombox and a drum kit, it is a novel way to enjoy some of the more interesting acts Norwich has to offer. This includes the (in)famous Puppet Man who gets zero points for talent but ten out of ten for effort.

Whilst “DIY mecca” is perhaps an overstatement, Norwich is a city that offers more creativity than it’s sleeping spires, winding backlanes and farming stereotypes might suggest.