BREVIEW: BIMM Summer Festival @ Asylum 14.06.19

BIMM Summer Festival @ Asylum 14.06.19Words by Charlie Culverhouse

It’s the day of BIMM Birmingham’s Summer Festival and the weather is as miserable as it has been all week. Luckily for the ‘summer’ theme it hasn’t rained today, yet. I cross my fingers that the weather will allow festival goers to celebrate in the dry.

In the venue, I notice a lack of people. I get in early as I study at BIMM Birmingham and know musicians playing tonight, yet I see no-one around.

It’s strange seeing such a large venue so empty, but the emptiness also shows the lack of a summer theme – a few inflatable palm trees, beach balls and rubber rings, but nothing else suggesting a festival happening, which is further damped by the rain now starting up. I quickly start to feel underwhelmed – the music is set to beging in 10mins and the 600-person venue has a maximum of 40 people in it. ‘Summer’ pop music plays in the background, but is over-shadowed by the now pouring rain outside.

The venue feels dingy, too dark for a summer festival. There is no hustle and bustle. As the first act begin, with a simple acoustic song and lack of any audience, I find more interest in the Spiderman movie being oddly screened above the bar.

As The Asylum‘s main room slowly fills out, I notice no one looks particularly summery either – more like they’re in the middle of December. The definitive age gap separates the audience into two halves, the students and their friends running between the smoking area and the front of the crowd, whilst the older gig attendees spread across the back of the venue – enjoying the music without any external noise and chatter. The night is quickly dominated by acoustic songs, and as pleasant as everything sounds I crave something more upbeat. BIMM Birmingham’s Summer Festival was advertised as a ‘talent showcase’, but can you call it a showcase if there’s no genre diversity throughout the majority of the show?

The third song performed by Gerard Harrison is a soul cover of Lionel Ritchie’s ’All Night Long’, which starts the summer feel and lifts the mood of the whole crowd. More musical highlights include Sofia Jones’ cover of Toni Braxton’s ‘Un-Break My Heart’, which sounds so much like the original it’s crazy. Whilst Jones’ second performance, of Lenny Kravitz’s ‘Are You Gonna Go My Way?’, just proves her talent and genre diversity.

By this point in the evening people are starting to loosen up and have a good time, the drinks may be a factor in this. Well, they are for me. But each act only gets to play one or two songs before changing over, which creates a choppy feeling – with the frequent intervals making me loose interest too.

When the music isn’t playing I speak to William, who has been standing at the front of the venue for the majority of the night – singing and dancing through every song. “The event is fun and I will support my mates through everything they do,” explains William, “but I feel like it’s missing something. I want to hear more from some people and get really into the music, instead of feeling like I’m being interrupted halfway through.”  I’m glad it’s not just me. Most of the people I chat to are also here for friends or children – mainly supporting who they know, which is emphasised as I see people leaving after whoever they’ve come to see has performed.

Hunger Moon’s performance is beautiful, as always. The crowd love it and the venue fills out even more. Felix brings a heavier sound, with harsh bass tones, and starts the long-waited transition to some heavier music – a move that I’m craving. The crowd seems to agree and meshes into one, filling the gap between those at standing the back and those dancing at the front. I understand why an event like this may leave heavier styles of music till the end of the night, but this left me (and arguably many of the rest of us) somewhat lost through the first three quarters of the show.

Sundogs end the night. I’m at the back of the venue, as by this point I can’t break through the crowd that has formed. Everyone who has been craving something heavier is now enjoying themselves, as they clearly wish they had been earlier; I’m even pulled into a dance circle, where I jump around with people I barely know having the time of my life and enjoying some really awesome music. It may even have stopped raining, but by now I’m having too much fun to check.

This is the perfect way to close off the evening, and I’m excited to see how future events held by BIMM Birmingham compare to this one – as their first Summer Festival ends in success. Things can only get bigger and better from here. We just need to find a reliable booking agent for sunshine.  

For more on BIMM Birmingham, visit

For more on Asylum, including venue details and further event listings, visit


NOT NORMAL NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual assault and aggression – from dance floor to dressing room.

To learn more about the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here. To sign up and join the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here.

If you have been affected by any of the issues surrounding sexual violence – or if you want to report an act of sexual aggression, abuse or assault – click here for information via the ‘Help & Support’ page on the NOT NORMAL NOT OK website.

BPREVIEW: BIMM Summer Festival @ Asylum 14.06.19

BIMM Summer Festival @ Asylum 14.06.19Words by Ed King

On Friday 14th June, BIMM Summer Festival comes to Asylum – a free to attend event, that promises to be ‘a celebration of young musicians from across the region and a chance to showcase the very best local musical talent.’

Doors open at Asylum from 6:30pm, with the music kicking of from 7pm. Age of entry is 16+ until 10:30pm, when the adults in the room take over and the night moves into Asylum 2 for the aftershow party. For direct event info, click here.

BIMM is one of the major players in contemporary music education – ‘a teaching institution dedicated to supporting and nurturing the budding careers of young musicians and music professionals’ with institutions in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Brighton, Bristol and Dublin. But BIMM stretches even further afield these, with two institutions in the German cities of Hamburg and Berlin. And cutting your musical teeth on the live circuits in both the UK and Germany worked out pretty well for a bunch of scousers in the sixties, so…

But BIMM Birmingham’s inaugural ‘Summer Festival’ is about showing of their students in this city, and with a list of alumni that boasts James Bay, Ella Mai and George Ezra (to name a few) then it’s probably worth a quick stop, look and listen. Indeed, as the event’s press release says: ‘Knowing that these big alumni names got their start by performing with BIMM, it is more than likely that the next big star could be performing at BIMM’s Summer Festival this year, who would want to miss out on that?’ Well, quite. Plus it’s free, so you’ve literally got nothing to lose.

So, who’s on the BIMM Summer Festival bill then? The line up includes some lesser known (to us, at least) local acts such as Dream Theatre, Snazzle Patch, Lenny Con Banda, Ace, Allasandra Curle, Cameo and Sundog. Alas, we don’t have much more on these luminaries in waiting – outside of the fact that they represent ‘a line up of artists from a variety of musical genres.’ I guess that’s what Google is for.

But grabbing our attention is Hunger Moon, who Birmingham Review first covered when they released their debut single ‘Oh Friend’ back in March 2018. Signing to the Northamptonshire based Babywoman Records earlier this year, Hunger Moon’s latest single, ‘Honey’, came out in May 2019 and is something pretty special – available to stream for free across a variety of platforms, click here to check it out for yourself.

According to the BIMM Summer Festival press release, Ellisha Green is also performing – a singer/songwriter who was recently nominated in the ‘Rising Star’ category at this year’s Birmingham Music Awards. Plus, 2018 X Factor contestant and ‘internet sensation’ Felix (Shepherd) is marked out for greatness. Both these artists have also had singles out this year, Green releasing ‘Mother, Tell Me’ in March and Felix releasing ‘Gold’ in June – so it’s already a pretty formidable fledgling line up with just these three on the bill.

BIMM Summer Festival is also being presented as ‘a valuable networking opportunity for Birmingham’s music professionals as well as aspiring music professionals’ – and whilst you can justifiably feel an internal shudder at ‘networking…’ (cue memories of awkward business breakfasts and empty evenings talking to someone about how the pet clothing market is about to boom) if you’re young and hungry to learn more about the region’s musical industry then this could be a good night out.

As Antony Greaves, principle at BIMM Birmingham, explains: “The BIMM Birmingham Summer Festival is an opportunity for students to showcase themselves to the music industry, friends, family and the wider public at a free to attend event, as well as being a great way to celebrate the end of a year’s hard work.”

Plus, again, it’s free. Would be rude not to.

BIMM Summer Festival comes to Asylum on Friday 14th June, with free entry to everyone 16 year and over. Doors open at 6:30pm, with live music from 7pm until 10:30 – then it’s 18+ for the aftershow party in Asylum 2. For direct event information, visit 

For more on Asylum, including venue details and further event listings, visit 

For more on BIMM Birmingham, visit


NOT NORMAL NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual assault and aggression – from dance floor to dressing room.

To learn more about the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here. To sign up and join the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here.

If you have been affected by any of the issues surrounding sexual violence – or if you want to report an act of sexual aggression, abuse or assault – click here for information via the ‘Help & Support’ page on the NOT NORMAL NOT OK website.

ED’S PICK: January 2018

Words by Ed King

January 1st… no finer day to cross off the calendar. But as the world crawls out of bed with hangovers and resolutions, Birmingham’s events diary looks forward to a pretty vibrant January. It seems the ‘quiet month’ is not so dormant this year. Which is a good thing, right? I mean, who needs to stay in and save money? Food and heating are for quitters.

Some pretty big gigs happening this month, with the rock powerhouse that is Paramore (ain’t alliteration ace) coming to the Genting Arena on Jan 14th. Tickets may be sold out by the time I finish this sentence, so you’d better act rápido por favor (just finished watching Narcos) if you want to catch them tour their fifth album, After Laughter, through the second city. On the Lord’s Day as well… dios nos perdone.

On the smaller stages in Birmingham, Surprise You’re Dead are tearing the city in two on 24th Jan – as Ohio’s metalcore Miss May I come to Mamma Roux’s, whilst London’s pop punksters The Bottom Line are joined by Nottingham’s Lacey at The Asylum. In fact, overall it’s quite a strong start to 2018 from SYD as the Birmingham’s stalwart rock/punk promoters are also bringing Dead! to The Flapper on 31st Jan and The Bronx to Mama Roux’s on 17th Jan – although The Bronx gig has already sold out so check the relevant corners of t’interweb for returns.

Elsewhere in the land of live gigs, we have the rising stars Riscas headlining an uber line up at The Sunflower Lounge on 19th Jan – with Spilt Milk Society, Candid and The Real Cool all in support. If this gig doesn’t sell out then I will 1) buy a hat, 2) eat my hat, 3) buy another hat. 2018 is set to be a big year for Riscas, we reckon, so catch them when and where you can. Then The Hunna return to the O2 Academy on 11th Jan, whilst Setting Son Records present Average Sex and Semantics (one of our faves) at the Hare & Hounds on 24th Jan.

Hot on the heels of their recent triumphant homecoming, KIOKO headline a stellar line up of local acts at The Crossing on 26th Jan – with Namiwa Jazz, Zara Sykes, VITAL, Elektric, and revered local poet Kurly all performing as part of the Love Music Hate Racism event at the Milk Street venue. Trish Clowes presents her latest album, My Iris, with a new ensemble of the same name at Eastside Jazz Club on 25th Jan. Whilst those somewhat silent psychedelics, Moon Duo, come back to the Hare & Hounds on 30th Jan courtesy of This Is Tmrw. Then there’s the gig I’m throwing my metaphor in the ring for – This is the Kit showcase their new album, Moonshine Freeze, at The Glee Club on 24th Jan.

January also sees a strong line up of comedy in the city, kicking off with Tina T’urner Tea Lady Steamy Bingo at The Old Joint Stock on 5th Jan. Tracey Collins will be bringing her ‘camp alter ego’ back to The Old Joint Stock in March, so if you miss your numbers this time around you can always try again in spring.

Stand up also starts strong at The Glee Club, with Andy Zaltzman bringing his Satirist for Hire tour to The Arcadian Centre venue on 19th Jan – a week before Fern Brady’s debut Suffer Fools tour lands there on 26th Jan. Quick tip, if either of these stand ups ask you to email in suggestions or comments… don’t. Or at least don’t sign your name. Or sit in the front row. You have been warned. Whilst over at the Town Hall, Ed Byrne brings his Spoiler Alert tour to Birmingham on 27th Jan – a room big enough for some safe anonymity, for the audience at least.

Theatre stamps a reassuringly eclectic foot down on the first month of 2018, with Outer Circle Arts presenting The Death Show at The Rep Door on 26th and 27th Jan. Whilst a stone’s throw behind them in Hockley, Blue Orange Theatre present The Late Marilyn Monroe – running from 30th Jan to 3rd Feb. Then over at The Patrick Centre is the somewhat less self-explanatory Translunar Paradise  – Ad Infinitum’s unspoken story ‘of life, death and enduring love’, presented at the Hurst Street venue for one night only on 31st Jan.

Saint Petersburg Classic Ballet present Swan Lake, also for one night only, at the Symphony Hall on 7th Jan. Whilst The Mockingbird continues to its mission to save The Custard Factory from the cultural abyss with a double screening of Clerks and the documentary behind Silent Bob’s directorial debut, Shooting Clerks, on 19th Jan. There will also be a Q&Q with the latter’s director, Christopher Downie, and some cast members at 9pm.

For more film, mac hosts Playback from 7th to 24th Jan – a touring and ‘interactive exhibition’ of over 200 short films from ‘krumping and parkour dance shorts, to an animated tale of teenage love that unearths our desire to be as cool as the zines we read’. Held in the arts centre’s First Floor Gallery, with free admission, Playback carries a Tubbs and Edward local angle too, as ‘some of the films were originally made in and around Birmingham, where young people based in the Midlands were given the support and funding to create a short film.’

Then rounding off Birmingham’s cultural cache for the New Year, The Chefs’ Forum present their ‘Pay What You Can’ lunch at University College Birmingham on 15th Jan – a networking, trade and showcase event with four courses from some of the city’s top restaurants. Having launched its Midlands’ agenda at UCB back in February this… sorry, last year, The Chefs’ Forum is hosting their Jan ‘18 lunch to raise funds and awareness for its Educational Foundation which supports young chefs across the UK.

And with Louisa Ellis (The Wilderness), Mark Walsh (Opus Restaurant), Luke Tipping and Leo Kattou (Simpsons) and Olivier Briault (The Edgbaston Boutique Hotel) all chipping in a course, it should do just that. Although, the non-fixed donation approach is gratefully received in mid January.

Now if I can just find an energy provider with the same approach…

**Also straddling this month and the next are the two rescheduled Lady Gaga concerts, as the uber-star kicks off the UK leg of her Joanna World Tour at Arena Birmingham on 31st January before returning to play the Genting Arena on 1st February. Tickets to both arena shows are priced at £48.50 (+ fees), as presented by Live Nation UK.

In memoriam of her paternal auntie and namesake, Lady Gaga’s latest song, album and tour appear as personal an affair as you can offer when delivering it to millions of strangers. A curious dichotomy, but one Birmingham will get to see on stage first as the Live Nation machine sets down in our city before anywhere else in the UK. Kudos.

And with tickets being transferred from the previous dates in October 2017, it’s fair to say there may be a bit of a bun fight to get in to these gigs. No doubt it’ll be worth a few scuffed elbows though, but even if ‘I’m never going to know you now, I’m gonna love you any how’. OX Joanne.

For direct gig info, including venue details and online ticket sales, for Lady Gaga at Arena Birmingham on 31st January, click here. For Lady Gaga at the Genting Arena on 1st February, click here.’

Tickets for the originally scheduled Lada Gaga shows at the Genting Arena (12th Oct ’17) at Arena Birmingham (15th Oct ’17) can be transferred to the new dates. According to the venues’ websites, ‘if you cannot make the new date, refunds can be obtained at your point of purchase for a limited period’.**

Playback @ mac 7th to 24th Jan

For more on any of the events listed here, click on the highlighted hyperlink. 

Ed King is Editor-in-Chief of Review Publishing, which issues both the Birmingham Review and Birmingham Preview titles.