While examining weird installations in a few galleries last weekend I noticed something about the galleries themselves. You might put it down to me being too unappreciative of modern art – and you’d probably be right – but I began to realise how many of them not only have great acoustics, they are full of one thing that all musicians crave: space.
So, if you want to do something slightly more creative with your gigs than play a beer-soaked pub gig or club night, you might want to look towards the many art spaces in town – not least because it’s cheap for you, your fans and your friends. You see, galleries aren’t allowed to charge people entrance fees, which means that there’s no need for those expensive, complicated entertainment licences. This makes it a handy recession buster for local bands.
Thinking a little bit more broadly, galleries are designed to be a ‘blank canvas’ for art, and you can use this to your advantage by accompanying your performance with projector screens, Banksy-inspired painted elephants or whatever takes your fancy. In fact, art galleries will probably encourage your creativity, compared to traditional commercial venues that will push you down with talk of ‘safety hazards’.
Galleries also let you tap into the under-21 market. Teenagers aren’t all sullen, immature, space-destroying clones. There are a lot of great young artists and bands in town who are supremely talented and desperate for space to perform, but are denied by the various alcohol laws.
There are a bunch of good spaces in Al Quoz Industrial Estate behind Mall Of The Emirates. Gayathri put on a successful EP launch at thejamjar (04 341 7303), and Tim Hassall organised the recent Candy Riot night at the same place. Personally, I love The Shelter (04 434 5655). It’s a warm, large and beautifully thought out space suitable for either DJ gigs or the ‘mug of coffee in hand’ performance.
And art galleries aren’t just confined to the Al Quoz massive. There’s XVA (04 353 5383), of course, in the ambling and lovely area of Bastakia, while Cuadro (04 425 0400) in the DIFC Gate Village is an excellent example of a space yearning for creative-minded musicians. Adam Hardy, Cuadro’s curator would love to have music grace his space. ‘The fusion of art and music plays off very effectively, and it is really hard for one to live without the other,’ he says. ‘Music, like art, is often a reflection on the culture from which it is spawned.’
Not that galleries are perfect – at least, not if you’re planning to make money. As you cannot sell tickets it means that you will probably never make a fil in the short-term. But if you’re in it for the music then you’ll be more worried about other things – like how you’re going to fit both the drum kit and the giant neon light installation on the same stage.
Zahra showcases the latest musical talent on Open Mic every Saturday from 8pm-10pm on Dubai 103.8.