As we queued in the late afternoon sun outside Headrow House there was a gentle hum of excitement for this, the opening party, for a brand new venue: a the ultimate culmination of art, music, beer and class. Tucked away off the main Headrow (down beyond Crash; opposite Sports Direct), the conspicuous monochrome sign invites you through a small courtyard and into a mysterious warehouse complex. A complementary beer eased the wait and once at the door we were welcomed with a fruity cocktail. Inevitable attention to detail, style and mood-lighting set the scene for what will only become the hippest venue in town: a fine vinyl sound track courtesy of various DJs, taste buds satisfied by more complimentary Pilsner and an optical feast as you scan the rugged ‘Beer Hall’ and flyers promoting the admirable list of upcoming events as part of Beacons Metro. Initiated by the masterminds behind Belgrave Music Hall, they’ve created their biggest rival. Although not fully finished – the tell-tale stench of paint, the subtle box of door handles in the toilets and a few well positioned black drapes – this will be quite the venue.
There was an immediate sense of effortlessness on entering the Beer Hall as swarms of people sat around alpine style tables or queued to buy one from a choice of seventy beers from around the world (at very student unfriendly prices – perhaps an attempt to cream off the riff raff?). After sitting next to some pretty punchy air conditioning for too long we decided to get the blood moving to our toes and went for a nosey upstairs. There was a slightly chaotic nature as we passed austere looking rooms still filled with builders blasting Radiohead: as bare brick walls, dimly lit corridors and half-finished rooms created an authentic atmosphere, it started to feel less like an opening party but more like a teaser of what was to come. However, the roof top terrace was catching the end of the evening sun and became the perfect place to enjoy a couple more complementary drinks. We were once again tantalised by the construction of another terrace above us, yet no one seemed concerned about its being unfinished but instead were intrigued by the potential. Within an hour the building was full of people enjoying free chips and buzzing with anticipation with live music from East India Youth and Ghost Culture on the bill. In the coming months, these will be joined by the likes of Everything Everything, LA Priest, Darkstar and Daniel Avery.
As the sun set, we made our way downstairs to be greeted by the finished, functioning Event Space, which proved to be an ideal space for the night ahead. With space to dance and well thought out layout, clocking smoking area access, bar and toilets the venue leant itself easily to its intended use. The crowd bustled right to the front, entangled in helium balloons (perhaps the continuous free pairs of free beer goggles came with a good dose of confidence) but ready and waiting for the most current musicians on the scene to take to the stage. Firstly, Ghost Culture: with a style somewhere between an 80s house wife and modern jazz dance instructor, James Greenwood is the newest and best musician on the electronic scene. Totally underrated, his debut album emerged in January, and still continues to baffle me in its beauty. Similarities to Daniel Avery (both are signed to Phantasy Sound) but more vocals and variability make him stand above the rest. Second up was East India Youth who is slightly more established, but equally as talented. Two albums in two years and only 24 years old, William Doyle performs laden with synthesisers, guitars, laptops and dance moves.
This opening party seemed to be the perfect combination of introducing us to a foundation of exciting ideas. One girl was overheard describing her free beer as smelling like feet, but despite this, Headrow House has set the standards high in creating an intriguing new venue with the prospect of many incredible nights to come. If Belgrave is your tatty, loveable teddy bear, Headrow House is your brand new iPhone.
Flora Tiley & Mary Pattisson
(Photo credits: Nick Porter via Headrow House)