It’s Lincoln’s premier live music venue, but the number of acts visiting the Engine Shed has started to dwindle causing questions about why the venue appeared to be running out of steam.
But fewer acts, according the Engine Shed’s events and programme manager Victoria Simpson, is due to the recession. She explained: “When it started, the 100-250 capacity venues weren’t affected too badly because they’re people that will go out and gig even if they’ve got 3p to their name.”
“The 500-900 were really affected because record labels weren’t taking anyone new, there’s no tour support for anyone, it was really hard for people to get going. No-one was funding any records to get put out etc. The 1,000-2,500s were alright because the bands were already established.”
Lincoln’s Engine Shed is a part of the 1,000-2,500 capacity band, along with venues such as Rock City in Nottingham and all the Academy 1s. But despite coping with the recession well at the start, things have changed since.
“Two years later we’re seeing that all of the people that would have done the 500-900s aren’t there because they weren’t there two years ago. The problem is also that no-one who was doing the 1,000-2,500 venues has got a new album out. So now the only ones that are doing ok are the smaller venues.
“But we’re stuck,” admits Simpson. “It’s not just us, it’s everyone. Norwich are down, all the Academies are down, Rock City’s down, Liverpool Guild is down. Generally live music touring over the past 12 months has been low. Why does this affect us more than the big cities? Because we’re a regional venue and not a big city.
“We will get shows when bands are doing either larger tours or smaller tours but they want to go regional. We started on a really good run — we’re being affected by the recession and by the amount of risk that people are wanting to take,” she said.
Despite the Engine Shed being a 1,700 capacity venue, there has been a number of shows for which a wall was erected to split the room in two. This gave a 500 person capacity and a more intimate gig for both fans and artist alike. So why not book smaller bands to play the split venue?
“What managers and agents want their bands to do is work their way up,” says Simpson. “So, they sell out Academy 3, sell out Academy 2, sell out Academy 1. They want bands to take these natural steps.
“The problem we’ve got is that it’s the Engine Shed and it’s always going to be the Engine Shed. If a band plays a 500 cap in the Engine Shed they can’t say they’ve sold it out and that’s really important to them.”
Simpson, however, does has a solution to this problem.
“What I want to do is have a second room, I think it’s vital because we need to feed the Engine Shed with bands coming up. If the bands were coming earlier they’d be able to establish their market with the local population, they could build a fan base and then they can come back and know they’ve got that.
“What I want to do is turn the upper Tower Bar into a second room and call it The Platform. I’d want it as a 500 capacity.”
The plans for ‘The Platform’ are in the long-term and may never come to fruition. But the need for a second room becomes ever more apparent as the vast majority of smaller touring bands miss Lincoln completely. Despite this, Simpson said that she has more spots saved in her diary for next year than she did at this time last year, so things could be looking up for the Engine Shed.Tweet