You’ve arrived in a new city and you’re raring to go; out in the open and ready to discover the world outside. You want excitement; you want to meet like minded people; you want to hear something new. The problem is, you don’t know where to go, your new housemate got a flyer for a face paint party at the union, and even the finest painter couldn’t disguise the dread etched deeply into your face at the thought of cramming into a sweaty student bar to queue for watered down shot after watered down shot. There must be something else, you think. This can’t be it.
Fortunately for you, that isn’t all there is, and if you live in Leeds, London or Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Birmingham or Bristol, then we’re throwing you a get out of jail free card. Serving up a taste of what your city really has to offer during your first few weeks at uni, we’ve compiled this alternative guide to going out in those confusing freshers weeks.
Leeds’ underground scene isn’t the hardest to find, with loads of bands playing at local venues and places like Mint Club, Mint Warehouse and Canal Mills all supplying non-mainstream dance music every weekend. This time round, we’ve picked out Joy Orbison’s 5 hour set at Call Lane cellar Wire as the perfect night on the all important first Friday of the student year, the 23rd of September. Following that up, Saturday 24th sees the legendary night Subdub return, with Iration Steppas, Dubkasm, Massai Warrior and more introducing the new generation to the cherished Leeds West Indian Centre.
The capital’s nightlife has been shaken by Fabric’s closure but it isn’t down and out just yet. Dutch house duo Detroit Swindle play Egg as part of the DJ Mag sessions on Saturday 24th September, with Recloose and Wolf Music in support, whilst Bulgaria’s best producer KiNK will have The Steelyard’s booth all to himself as he works his way through a combination of live PA and DJed tunes on Saturday 1 October.
(Photo courtesy of Backroom Entertainment)
Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip has a special Prince tribute lined up for the 23rd of September, meaning freshers Friday can be spent dancing to two hours of edits, remixes and originals from the late great at Gorilla. Manchester will also send forth two disco favourites as special guests, ensuring that it’s a delightfully funky start to the academic year’s clubbing ventures. A week later, techno from Blawan, James Ruskin, Anton Fitz and Annabel Fraser ought to make for a banging night at Hidden, this one taking place on Saturday 1 October.
Liverpool-dwelling house heads have Circus’ 14th birthday party to look forward to on Saturday 24th September, with Yousef and co immediately offering incoming students a chance to immerse themselves in one of the city’s best-loved underground music parties at its home at Arts Club. Friday the 30th sees new night ENRG bring Floating Points to Merseyside, with the first in a series of nights at the incredible Invisible Wind Factory.
(Photo courtesy of Circus)
The promoters Bleep have moved away from Newcastle to bring a big proponent of bassy UK house to Sheffield, with Rumah of Blueprint Records playing Code Warehouse on Wednesday 21st of September. An affiliate of Seb Wildblood’s Church imprint and Corsica Studios in London, he’ll whip up a storm for any freshers looking to escape the chart music of the default student parties. Hip-hop prodigy Loyle Carner’s outing at Plug on Saturday 1 October also deserves attention.
Birmingham also boasts the fantastic UK hip-hop of Loyle Carner, who plays O2 Institute3 on Sunday 2 October. A skilled and poignant lyricist backed by the smooth jazz instrumentals that have come to characterise the very best of UK hip-hop, Carner ought to attract a substantial crowd of hip-hop heads. Before that, indie rock kids Sundara Karma will be on stage 2 of the same venue on the Thursday 20th September.
(Photo courtesy of Sundara Karma)
Bristol is another city with plenty on for the more exploratory freshers, with Motion offering the best starting place for incomers looking to skip the usual student clubs and dive straight into the cool music spots. Wild Beasts perform on Wednesday 28th September, just three days after Gary Numan, meaning there’s ample choice when it comes to live music, whilst the In:Motion opening parties see Joseph Capriati, Craig Richards and a whole load more play on Friday 30th and Congo Natty, Elijah & Skilliam, P Money and more the next day on Saturday 1st October. Before that though, For the Love of Garage will provide for anyone has a - yes, you guessed it - love of garage on Friday 23rd of September, giving you a chance to check out the distinctive party boat that is Thekla.
Of course, sometimes the usual suspects can be a great way to spend a night as well, so if you're looking for the more typical freshers parties you can always check out our other freshers guide.
Words by Andrew Kemp
Main photo courtesy of Wire Club Leeds