Rock City, Nottingham
Upon this rock I will build my Church, and what a church she was. In 1980, scripture was fulfilled and Nottingham was set to become the Mecca for devout rockers and rollers all over, by the opening of the legend that was to be Rock City. So a quarter of a century later what’s changed? Why are eager pilgrims leaving dissatisfied? Are we witnessing an end to Nottingham’s infamous reputation as a city built on Rock ‘n’ Roll?
Following numerous poor reviews in the music media, and a general lack of enthusiasm among students, the time has come to investigate what has happened to Nottingham’s Rock institution. George Akins of Rock City says: “People who come here expecting to find the holy grail of metal music are bound to be disappointed, they are the minority of our audience; we have to play to the crowd.” This begs the question, what exactly is the crowd these days? “Trends have changed,” George adds, “today, people want to hear NME bands” aka Bloc Party, Kaiser Chiefs etc for the uninitiated. He also points out that it’s not just about the music anymore. Band members have become fashion icons. To be alternative is to be trendy; we are a generation in which ‘rock/indie’ is synonymous with mainstream pop.
This was reflected in a recent NME poll. Rescue Rooms received 54% of votes for Nottingham’s best music venue, whilst Rock City picked up only 24%, showing the change in trend and the redefinition of rock as increasingly fashion-conscious.
December will mark the 25th anniversary of our great Rock City, and George intends to celebrate: “We’ve got a lot of big acts lined up. Bands like Embrace, Madness and Bullet For My Valentine.” This should keep the old crowd happy. George reckons we’ve got another two or three years left of the NME scene, but real rock isn’t going anywhere… so stick around. Rock ‘n’ Roll will never die, and in a couple of years the sounds pouring forth from this venue will be just as dirty and uncompromising as they used to be. And if you want a good dose of the real stuff, get down to Rock City on a Saturday night and remember why it’s been voted Kerrang’s best club for the past 11 years running. This old boy has a good few innings in him yet.