Reassuringly underground in its railway arches location, The Green Door opened in 2011 amidst the surge of Brighton's rise to prominence as a bohemian enclave for the South East of Britain.
Recent years have seen Brighton clumsily described as"Britain's hippest city" and generally regarded as the LGBTQ capital of England, but the city has played its part in the counterculture of the UK since the beginning. The ultimate destination for mods and rockers going for a ride, and the tribal battles that resulted from them in the 1960s, Brighton was doubly fixed into the history of youth subculture when it became the obvious backdrop for Quadrophenia. The adopted home of Nick Cave, the base for Norman Cook's various projects, and the home of all manner of disruptors from The Levellers to Rizzle Kicks, Brighton has no shortage of innovators and talent.
"We played there for The Wytches' “Smash Hits” intimate tour, the room was electric and overcapacity, we met a nice young man called “Wolfgang”, he invited us back to his house in which he had a grand piano and a bust of Mozart, one of the more interesting shows we have played". - Joe Fisher, Crosa Rosa
For such a vibrant city you would expect a live music scene that reflects the liberal population and visitors, and sure enough, there are plenty of independent venues to choose from, but leading the pack in terms of brave programming and all-round community spirited ethics is The Green Door Store. Located underneath Brighton's Railway Station, on Trafalgar Street, the club is in a prime hub location for visitors to Brighton, or those commuting from London, while being neatly hidden enough to keep it feeling a bit of a local secret.
Aside from the local bands that cut their teeth on the stage there, the programming of The Green Door Store reads like that of London venues such as The Lexington. The Green Door Store has a reputation as one of the best places in the South, outside of the capital to catch bands. Ty Segall, Pixx, Sorry, Slaves, Pussy Liquor, Joanna Gruesome, Teeth Of The Sea, Damo Suzuki and many more names, both old and new have all performed there in its seven years, as well as local success story Theo Verney. It's a diverse list that illustrates the venue's enthusiasm for DIY ethos, nonconformist culture, pioneering artistry - and it seems - a good time for all.
"The Green Door Store has always been a breeding ground for fresh new music. From Mac Demarco to Ty Segall I have seen many bands here grow into huge international artists.” - Theo Verney
As well as its artistic outlook, one of the key factors that come up again and again when performers and punters are singing its praises is its pricing point. Brighton, due to its attractive culture and proximity to the capital is obviously an expensive place to go out, so a venue that offers free bar entry at all times (apart from a few specific events) and offers free entry to many of its gigs is a very welcome discovery.
Third party organised nights such as Berlin which brings Brighton clubbers underground techno and electronic sounds (of the type you'd expect to encounter in Berlin as the name might suggest) also use the space ensuring that the day to day calendar doesn't become a monoculture of niche bands and their cliques.
Other recent and upcoming left-field events and regular nights hosted at the club include a DJ slot from snooker champ and progressive music expert Steve Davis and the self-explanatory Party In Your Pants club night, the latter being the sort of liberal gathering one might struggle to find in the UK elsewhere than Brighton.
The programming team behind the venue's calendar are Toni Coe and Will Benson. Toni explains, "Working for a small indie venue I'm always researching new bands, going to small shows and falling in love with the next underdog to grace our ears before the industry properly get involved". Will adds, "I love the new post-punk movement at the moment, bands like Hotel Lux and Drahla, IDLES etc. are really bringing guitar music to an interesting level again".
It would be a disservice to The Green Door Store to simply say its line-ups and ethics compare well to those of lauded independent venues in the capital. Just as Brighton presents a more easy-going and relaxed seaside remix of contemporary British cosmopolitan life than neighbouring London, so The Green Door Store offers a similarly adjusted version of how an independent venue can cater for its surrounding population.
Check out our Subculture playlist with Toni and Will here.