As a third year I’ve had to deal with two years of an embarrassingly poor students union venue. The only named act I’ve ever seen there (I’m not including reality TV failures) was N-Dubz in what was quite predictably the worst and shortest gig I’ve ever had the misfortune of seeing and despite paying about seven quid for the privilege the SU neglected to put any DJ’s on afterwards sending us drunk and depressed back down the hill to Butler after a shocking fifteen minute set where Dappy tried to start fights with audience members. Not very Roho at all.
The news of the 1.2 million pound refurb was predictably met with a sensible measure of cynicism and the plans available online didn’t do too much to help.
Well I’m pleased to declare that it would appear that the SU may have finally sorted their act out. The main hall somehow appears to be much more spacious, either that or less people are being admitted which means that unlike on past sold out nights when if you lost your friends you would spend the rest of the evening skirting the packed-in dance hall or wrestling your way through to the smoking area trying to find them again. Tommy’s has had a much needed facelift too. The cocktail night held during fresher’s week (minus the horrendous cocktails themselves) actually had a cosmopolitan and dare I say trendy vibe to it with the bar lighting and improved seating creating a much better atmosphere.
As a humungous music nerd I can also say that the quality of the music has substantially increased. Although I’d be lying if I said I was Lethal Bizzles biggest fan he certainly knows how to get a crowd going and despite the man having only about 20 minutes of recognisable tunes and managing to play next to none of them it was a genuinely brilliant performance complete with crowd surfing and two drunk girls fighting on the floor. The two supporting DJ’s were both superb and played diverse and enjoyable sets that eschewed post-Guetta twathouse in favour of hip-hop and R&B and made an actual effort at crowd interaction. It was almost like being at a proper gig.
My only criticism (ignoring the people who got their teeth smashed out at what I imagine will be SURHUL’s final foam party) was the lack of proper ventilation that has made the SU even sweatier than before although this is perhaps countered by the legion of lovely SU types handing out complementary water.
Whichever genius (and I say that without a shred of sarcasm) that books the acts obviously REALLY likes garage with at the time this goes to print DJ Luck and MC Neat along with DJ Pied Piper will have graced the unions hallowed main hall.
If the union can afford to keep booking an interesting selection of acts throughout the year and enough people show up to see them we might finally have a venue on campus we can be proud of.
Many people are still not convinced but I’m starting to think that unless the SU built a multi-storey dance-o-plex being opened by U2 and Snoop Dogg with The Queen personally welcoming each and every student with a handshake and a box of kittens people will never actually accept that maybe, perhaps, just this once, the SU got it right.