After Brexit shafted touring musicians harder than *that* scene in Pulp Fiction and the Tory government deafened themselves to the calls for support in the light of the energy crisis and left many people literally in the dark, another sadistic blow has been dealt to the UK music industry as the future of Brixton Academy is bleak at best.
Property investors are probably already salivating at the prospect of claiming the building, stripping the culture from its art deco bones, and insipidly reconfiguring it to make as much bank as possible at the expense of a cultivated landscape. If you’re still under the illusion that the current government give a fuck about the cultural future of the UK, you probably stopped paying attention in 2016.
After almost a century of history, Brixton Academy is unlikely to be a cultural landmark beyond 2023 after the Met declared they lost confidence in the Academy Music Group and revoked its licence to operate as a music venue after it was stormed by non-ticket holders when Asake took to the stage on December 15, 2022. Let’s just gloss over the fact that Brixton Academy has been successfully operating as a music venue since 1983 after its tenure as a cinema from 1929 and discotheque from 1972.
The tragedy of the crowd crush that became fatal for two and seriously injured two more definitely shouldn’t be underplayed, but there is no justice in letting the blame fall onto the wrong people. No music venue or event organiser anticipates events to be stormed en masse by overly entitled people with a nefarious disregard for public safety. Of course, the security staff were going to be overwhelmed by 3,000 people charging through the broken doors as though they were enacting the Game of Thrones Battle of the Bastards scene.
Crowd crushes are hardly a commonplace occurrence at gigs and festivals. Everyone who regularly attends them knows this beyond a shadow of a doubt, but evidently, if we had a say in the matter, we would have written this incident as an extreme act of cultural vandalism, not something that should determine the future of a landmark venue where historical shows have unfolded. Rather than reeling off all the legendary shows that take place here, of which there are many, it is far more important to look at what the loss of the 2000+ capacity venue will mean for the future when the industry is already in a precarious state.
Putting the appropriate safeguards in place to prevent that kind of tragedy at every show is completely unviable. The direction of the blame following the investigation allows you to see the Met’s agenda as clear as day – they just couldn’t be bothered getting to grips with what really happened on December 15th when the Nigerian Afrobeats artist hit London. Case in point, only one person was arrested following the crowd crush for assaulting a police officer. Following that arrest, the investigation did little more than pin the blame on the Academy Music Group. The 2,999 other people that forced their way through the venue door got off completely Scot-free. And it’s not like there wasn’t ample video and photo footage to carry out a proper investigation and hold the guilty accountable.
One attendee who witnessed tensions getting fraught outside saw people trying to scan their tickets to no avail. So where was the Met investigation into the ticket touts? Oh, quelle surprise, there wasn’t one! And it isn’t like the Asake gig in London was the first time fake tickets caused brawls outside music venues. The very same thing happened outside Glasgow O2 Academy after swathes of people purchased a ticket to see the rapper Digga D in October 2022, only to realise that they had purchased invalid tickets. Cue nine police cars and an ambulance rocking up to the venue to deal with the chaos that ensued around the ticketing scam. Obviously, something has to change, but that something isn’t the future of Brixton Academy.
At the time of writing, the petition surpassed 43,000 signatures. If it garners over 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for a parliamentary discussion. Even if you’re as cynical as me about how that discussion goes, use what little democratic power we have left and sign it here.
Article by Amelia Vandergast