A new live music venue is opening in Birmingham hoping to draw crowds back to the town and boost its night-time economy.
LVL:1 (called Level One) was a gaming bar with a retro feel which opened in January 2018. It was doing well before the coronavirus pandemic hit. And since then it has not picked up where it left off.
READ MORE : First look inside Birmingham’s tiny new pub
So Mark Barry and Andy Thompson – the duo behind the live music nights at The Lounge in Boldmere – are back together launching a new music venue in Sutton, located above Boots in the Gracechurch Centre, accessed off The Parade. And close to Sutton’s other new arrival , Taco Bell.
The venture is very much a work in process with the pair only picking up the keys on Monday November 15 and set to open on Friday (December 3) at 6pm – a mere 18-day turnaround!
The 200-plus capacity venue plans to offer both DJs playing music with live bands – a mix of DJ to warm up the night, then the live music, with a DJ playing until the venue shuts.
Andy Thompson has recently worked at The Rhodehouse with owner Terry Monaghan – but they have gone their separate ways, with Andy keen to have ‘full control’ of the new venue.
But Andy and Mark have known each other for 15 years and worked together for three-and-a-half years in Boldmere before Covid struck.
The 57-year-old, who has been in the live music industry for 30 years, said: “I left for an opportunity where I could be my own boss.
“My game is live music venues. And this one will have a different sort of feel to The Rhodehouse.
“We have a late licence here and can open until 4am but we will start by opening until 1am possibly 2am.
He continued “We are trying to attract a crowd who want to stay out later. At the moment everyone descends on The Royal [now called The Townhouse].
“We will have a mixture of cheese to Motown, soul, ska, reggae. There won’t be hip hop and drum and base.
“We will have dance floor filling music a mixture of both live bands and DJs.”
The venue has a stage, dance floor, six 10-seater booths which can be booked and will have two bars – a main bar and one by the booths. And new ladies and gents’ toilets.
It will have space for people to stand or dance and enjoy the music and will be open Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. From 6pm to 11pm on Thursday, 6pm to 1am on Fridays and Saturdays and 2pm til 9pm on Sundays. Last entry will be 10.30pm unless those have previously been told they can go in later.
This Friday will be a ‘soft launch’ with the venue’s transformation only partially complete. The main aim is for a complete revamp in three months and ultimately a new name.
Opening night will have DJ Si and Sutton group, The Junos, a five-piece party anthems band. And on Saturday the theme will be soul and Motown.
The venue is also operating a 21s-and-over policy and is aiming for the ‘more mature crowd’. Dress code is ‘smart casual’ with people asked to ‘just look like you’ve made an effort’. Jeans are OK but no tracksuits, caps, workwear or ‘dirty pants’.
Having been involved in one live music venue launch in Sutton this year, Andy was keen to stress Live @ Level One is aiming to drive punters back to Sutton rather than steal them off other sites.
He said: “We don’t want to be in competition with The Rhodehouse. This will be a real live music venue, a down-to-earth place.
“We are hoping to bring life back into Sutton.
“If we hadn’t jumped in at this, somebody else would have. It will take two-and-a-half months to three months to get it how we want it.
“But we have already decorated it top to bottom from a dark hip hop venue to a brighter venue.
“You need an Uber to get from one side of the ladies toilets to the other!”
The bar has Guinness, Carling and Birra Morretti pumps with a bigger selection to come. It will also be ‘big on gins and cocktails’.
It has got bands and DJs ‘fully booked’ for December.
BrumWish 2021 aims to get thousands of Christmas gifts to young children in need across our city – the homeless, the vulnerable, kids in care and kids who have little.
This year’s appeal is bigger and better than ever – because we have teamed up with our partners at #Toys4Birmingham, including Thrive Together Birmingham, the Birmingham Playcare Network, the Edgbaston Foundation and Birmingham Forward Steps.
Also involved are Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust, Barnardo’s, Spurgeon’s children’s charity, the Springfield project in Sparkhill, St Paul’s Community Development Trust and Your Local Pantry, which runs food hubs in 12 locations across Birmingham and the Black Country.
You can buy a gift from the #Brumwish Amazon Wishlist here.
Or you can collect and drop off donations of new and nearly new toys and gifts to special donation days at Edgbaston Stadium, B5 7QU, on Saturday November 27, Friday December 3 and Saturday December 4, from 11am to 3pm, where volunteers will be waiting to see you.
Brand new or nearly new, unwrapped gifts, books and toys for all ages will be accepted.
You can also donate cash, which will go into a fund held by a charity partner to use to plug gaps or buy specialist toys for children with additional needs. This is the link to make a donation.
Andy, who lives in Sutton, said: “I would like to think it is going to be Sutton Coldfield’s premier live music venue.
“We are looking to get the booths sponsored. We want to promote local businesses too.”
The full rebuild will take three months and will include a new heated roof terrace with a bar and booths which the new owner and his manager hope to have complete by Valentine’s Day next year.
He added: “The rooftop area will make it different. There will be street food traders. We will apply for a full alcohol licence there and have it heated.
“There are already three to four booths up there. We don’t think its been used since it was the iBar.”
[email protected] One will open for the first time at 6pm on Friday, December 3 with last entry at 10.30pm.
While you’re here, receive the latest Sutton Coldfield news direct to your inbox through our daily newsletter.