From Grassroots to Stadiums: Superstar artists and the early milestone gigs we ticketed

While many in the live music industry are concerned only with stadium shows and arena tours, at WeGotTickets we’ve always paid special attention to grassroots and local music scenes. It’s here, in these often-underappreciated small venues, that artists learn their craft, and the next wave of stars is born.  

Over the years, we’ve worked with many of the world’s biggest acts in their earliest days. Here we look at a handful of examples of shows we’ve ticketed that have helped launch the careers of some huge names. 

Ed Sheeran – The Bedford, London on 17th October 2010
Self promoted show released as Live at the Bedford EP and DVD 

Probably the world’s biggest singer-songwriter (sorry Swifties), Ed Sheeran is known for his hard work and determination – and that was true right from the beginning. At this self-promoted show Ed played to around 300 people and recorded it for release as the Live at the Bedford EP and DVD. One former member of staff even remembers speaking to Ed’s mum on the phone and talking her through how to run the ticket list and get everyone in quickly! 

Arctic Monkeys – The Dublin Castle, London on 5th April 2005 
First ever London gig, promoted by the brilliant Club Fandango 

Back in April 2005, 130 lucky people paid just £5 to see Arctic Monkeys play their first ever London show, at The Dublin Castle (which has no doubt hosted a thousand artists on their way to stardom). Having already garnered a huge following through their MySpace page, this show sold out and was followed soon after by their self-released Five Minutes With… EP, and by June the band had signed with Domino, who still release their records today. 

Mumford & Sons – The Luminaire, London on 7th July 2008 
Launch show for debut EP Lend Me Your Eyes 

Another band for whom the hype preceded them, Mumford & Sons finally released their debut EP Lend Me Your Eyes in summer 2008, launching it at this sold-out show at The Luminaire. In his review of the gig, The Independent’s Tim Walker concluded that “Mumford and Sons have a knack for playing that most vital of instruments, the heartstrings” – and judging by their meteoric rise to the top shortly after, it’s fair to assume everyone else loved them too. Oh, and if you’d like to get a copy of the Lend Me Your Eyes EP it’ll set you back about £350

Foals – The Wheatsheaf, Oxford on 16th December 2005 
Hometown debut, playing first on a three-band bill headlined by alias 

Having recently headlined Reading and Leeds for the second time and being previous winners of both Best Group and Best Live Act at the Brit Awards, it’s fair to say Foals have earned their place among the other artists mentioned here. Anyone who was at this show (me included!) will tell you that it was obvious from the start that Foals were destined for greatness. Promoted by Vacuous Pop, a brilliant but now sadly dormant promoter and record label, Foals opened proceedings with their Battles-meets-The-Rapture math-disco crossover that so defined their early days.  

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – The Zodiac, Oxford on 2nd March 2003 
Featured in the video for Date With The Night, the first single from their debut album 

Unlike the Foals show above I can’t personally claim to have been at this gig – though it was the date of my 21st birthday, and I actually saw Yeah Yeah Yeahs the following night at London’s Astoria. Like many I’d been hooked by their brilliant self-titled debut EP and joined a small army of fans who ensured these dates were not only sold out, but had an electric atmosphere. The tour is captured in the video for their first single Date With The Night which sent the band in to the stratosphere just a few weeks after this show. 

Sleaford Mods – The Old Blue Last, London on 30th October 2013 
First London headline show, promoted by Upset the Rhythm 

Although this show is the only one on the list not to have sold out, in reviewing it Louder Than War declared Sleaford Mods to be “probably the best punk rock band in the world and you are probably gonna fuckin’ luv em”. And they were right: it was only a matter of months later that the duo were filling much bigger rooms all across the country, as everyone caught up with their brilliant and fresh sound, and Upset the Rhythm (who promoted this show at The Old Blue Last) captured their performance at The Lexington here

Here at WeGotTickets, we take immense pride in being a part of the journey for emerging and established talents alike – after all, we do say our ticketing service is for “professionals, hobbyists, part-timers and first-timers”. And as you can see, we’ve witnessed stars find their feet in the intimate settings of grassroots venues and, as we continue to support and celebrate artists of all backgrounds, we’re confident that the next big stars are just around the corner. 

If you’re a new artist, or a promoter looking to give new talent a stage to perform on, contact us now to find out how we can help you ticket and market your events. You never know where it might lead. 

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