The live music industry took a beating in the pandemic. Independent venues and DIY spaces were left vulnerable, forced to navigate uncertain terrain. The Jim Beam Welcome Sessions is a celebration of those indie venues that have played a vital role in shaping the foundation of live music, this month featuring Fontaines D.C. and The Lexington.
The multi-year partnership will see Jim Beam champion independent music venues on a global scale. The series is an ode to the special relationship between artists and the venues they cut their teeth in. Inspired by Jim Beam’s welcoming spirit, each episode will see an artist return to an independent venue that welcomed them during their comeuppance.
The first instalment of Welcome Sessions saw Brit Award-nominated artist Jack Garratt return to London’s Village Underground. A venue that was home to the final show of his debut UK tour, a gruelling schlep that was riddled with bad luck and technical issues. Jack played the final date to a sold-out crowd of 700 fans.
“I arrived in London, after a tour of bad luck and technical difficulties, and everything just worked. Not just technically, but also the experience that the venue provided. I immediately felt a connection to this audience of hundreds standing in front of me. An audience who were singing every word of every song back to me. I was home,” Jack recalls of the performance, which you can watch exclusively via the Jim Beam YouTube channel.
The second episode of Jim Beam’s Welcome Sessions will see Grammy-nominated Irish act Fontaines D.C. return to, beloved North London independent music venue, The Lexington.
The Lexington was home to some of Fontaines D.C.’s first shows outside their native Ireland. Within its walls, the band cut their teeth amongst London’s live music fans, earning their reputation as a tour-de-force live act and drawing in sell-out crowds.
Working in collaboration with photographer Nick Helderman and music production team La Blogotheque, the band tore through a re-recording of their A Hero’s Death track, ‘I Was Not Born.‘
“So often it’s a singularly unique experience you can’t replicate or imitate playing live and is so often magnified or diluted by the space you are in. As opposed to the overly controlled feeling you get in larger venues, there’s a more natural, authentic feel offered to you by the smaller independent gigs,” Fontaines D.C.’s Conor Curley says.
“It’s refreshing to be back at The Lexington, which has a particular romance that reminds us of when we started out. Memories of this place are all about the people within it. The moment when crowds fill the space and surround the stage. That feeling of belonging and never being alone that music gives us as performers and audience members.”
Carlos O’Connell ads, “We have been incredibly lucky that there’s always been ‘a buzz’ and energy around our live gigs. The experience of being a live performer is a heightened one in which emotions are amplified and having that sense that you are welcome within a space among an audience who share your love for the music you are making is a vitally important thing.
“In its very essence, a live performance is a conversation between the band, their instruments, and the crowd in front of them. You can’t manufacture that buzz. It can never be as fulfilling as creating communion with an audience that is both feeding off and providing you with the energy you need in the moment.”