Leadmill is Sheffield’s much-loved home of indie bangers, but has the time come for a revolution into a new age of Drake, Cardi B and Post Malone?
Leadmill certainly attracts a particular audience through the genres they play – you only have to observe the sea of rolled-up jeans, vintage shirts and Dr Martens to tell you that. The Leadmillers get their dance shoes on and dress themselves up for a night of boogying to WHAM and Arctic Monkeys, attracting a steady flow of students through their doors every Friday and Saturday. You’d think Leadmill would be more than content with the constantly recurring queues underneath that famous neon sign, but evidently not. They have decided to reach out to an entirely different audience.
They’ve created an event that aims to appeal to those who listen to modern, and arguably more popular music. Perhaps this is because they have recognised a huge audience they are not targeting and want to get more of a profit by including them in their demographic. Of course, every business is profit conscious and will want to bring in what they can, however you have to wonder if Leadmill will ruin its renowned image by disregarding their loyal audience.
There are not many clubs that stick solely to retro and indie music, but this is part of what gives Leadmill it’s charm and keeps the regular punters coming through the doors. Now that they are conforming to popular culture their regulars may fear Leadmill is becoming just like everywhere else. So, while they may become attractive to some new faces they may be discouraging their familiar ones.
Having said that, it must be questioned whether a new audience will even be willing to give Leadmill a chance. Just as much as those who go to Leadmill, those who do not also know what it is all about and choose not to go, so can a few nights that differ from their long-term reputation really draw in a crowd that appear to be pretty content with spending their nights out at Code or a Corp Monday?
It seems Leadmill are hoping their existing goers are loyal enough to give ‘Gucci Gang’ a go. They love Leadmill for its Club Tropicana, ABBA nights, David Bowie events and unofficial after parties, so perhaps they trust that Leadmill could beneficially open them up to a genre that is completely different.
Back in 2017 when Leadmill first launched their 80s themed night, Club Tropicana, many people thought that it didn’t belong at that venue. However, since then it’s gone to sell out nearly every time and attract regular loyal customers, many of whom wouldn’t have gone to Leadmill for a night out before then. Perhaps Leadmill are hoping that ‘Gucci Gang’ will be able to do the same for the venue, attracting more groups with more money in their pockets.
Personally, I think that would be a pretty optimistic outlook. Leadmill should keep to what they know and do best. The people of Sheffield know where to go if they want some golden oldies or indie tunes and I’m sure they would be disappointed to stagger out of an Uber and find their beloved bar invaded by modern trap. They have a large audience who are willing to pay for entry fees, drinks and gigs so risking that just to try appeal to a different -and likely reluctant – audience is asking for too much. Leadmill, all I have to say is sometimes less is more.