“If you can’t handle me at my bungalows, you don’t deserve me at my bears,” mumbled a friend of mine once, as we staggered out of the Division Street institution. Whilst that is clearly gibberish, the enduring success of Bungalows & Bears over the past decade makes a lot more sense. Good food, good drink […]

“If you can’t handle me at my bungalows, you don’t deserve me at my bears,” mumbled a friend of mine once, as we staggered out of the Division Street institution. Whilst that is clearly gibberish, the enduring success of Bungalows & Bears over the past decade makes a lot more sense.

Good food, good drink and good music are housed in refreshingly unique and characterful surroundings. On 17 November, they celebrate ten years in situ at Sheffield’s Old Fire Station with an appearance by US rapper Mick Jenkins. We spoke to promotions and bookings manager, Jeremy Arblaster, ahead of the show to see how it feels to hit double figures.

Who are you most proud of having hosted on the Bungalows stage?

There’s been a lot of artists I’ve been proud of having. My first big show I ever did, with Au Revoir Simone, was really special. The show with Swedish rapper Yung Lean was a major highlight for me too. There’s been some acts who we’ve had before they blew up, which is always exciting – Wolf Alice, Bondax, TCTS. Homeshake and The Japanese House were incredible this year too.

The majority of shows at Bungalows are free entry. How much of a challenge is it to bring good acts to the venue on a regular basis without charging for tickets?

We get priced out of acts fairly quickly. There’s only so much you can pay out before a free entry show just isn’t feasible, so timing is very important. It’s about catching acts at the right moment, which is one of the most challenging aspects. But doing free-entry shows dramatically reduces the amount of sleepless nights over low ticket sales. I feel for other promoters sometimes.

Ten years is an impressive milestone for any music venue. With several high-profile venues closing down in recent years, do you feel live music is under threat in the UK?

The Internet has made public outrage the norm. We’re outraged about something new every day. With that being the case, the closure of venues becomes easier. They [the people responsible] know it’ll all blow over at some point, and they weather the storm until it does. Hopefully the closure of Fabric will change that, but I doubt it will, unfortunately. I’m not surprised that the government is failing to protect music venues. They’re not interested in their cultural merit and they will never contribute enough financially for the government to take notice.

Bungalows regularly hosts nights run by local promoters, such as Girl Gang and Mess Your Hair Up. How do you feel this sort of grassroots music scene in Sheffield helps contribute to the city’s culture as a whole?

The venue wouldn’t be in this position if it weren’t for local promoters. Semi Detached, the folks behind MYHU, helped put the venue back on the map, especially with agents and bands. They managed to attract acts like Honeyblood, Jessy Lanza, Glass Animals, Ultimate Painting, Jaakko Eino Kalevi and TOPS, and really put the venue back in the minds of gig goers. There are so many great people in Sheffield, and it’s great to see the independent music scene going from strength to strength. I’m lucky to be able to work with them.

Can you tell us a bit about the process behind organising the tenth anniversary show and what we should expect from Mick Jenkins?

I wanted to make it something special. By charging entry, we can afford to bring someone like Mick Jenkins to Sheffield. It’s exciting to watch him perform to thousands in the US and know he’s coming to our small stage. He’s incredible, so it’s going to be a special night.

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Jack Scourfield