Supersonic Festival

Supersonic Festival is a three day festival that takes place in Birmingham,UK. It's programme features a variety of acts combining music, arts and culture.

Taking place in The Custard Factory, a big player in the Digbeth and Birmingham arts culture, the lineup features everything from doom metal, progressive rock, folk, dubstep, grindcore and everything in between.

Rumours

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Lineup

2012 Confirmed acts so far include Lichens, Rangda, Sir Richard Bishop, Dylan Carlson and many more. To view the full line-up as updated, click here.

2012 marks the ten year anniversary of this dynamic, experimental, multi-disciplinary arts festival, which identifies the otherwise indescribable connections between contemporary music, art, performance and film!

The first films to be confirmed include:

  • Bruce Lacey Experience - documentary by Jeremy Deller & Nick Abrahams - For his new documentary the Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller and his sometime accomplice Nick Abrahams turn their attention to fellow film pioneer and iconic performance artist Bruce Lacey
  • Oxbow - The Luxury of Empire - Mariexxme's lush documentary "The Luxury of Empire", filmed on the French leg of Oxbow's 2009 European tour offers an intimate portrait of a band in full artistic maturity.

Fore more on panel discussions, workshops and more, be sure to check out the line-up page!

Vibe

Described as an ‘eclectic and experimental playground’ the line up aims to attract music and art fans who are drawn to more experimental works.

Amongst punks and metalheads, you can expect to see a mixture of ages and backgrounds, as the unique quality of the supersonic crowd is that there is not one predominant age group.

The crowd is a mixture of locals who have attended the festival for several years, and music enthusiasts from around the country.

Due to the intimate nature of the festival, it’s very easy to strike conversations with fellow attendees, whether its huddled by the heaters in the seating areas, or discussing your thoughts of the band you have just seen in the smoking areas.

To get a more behind the scenes understanding of how the festival is run and curated, we interviewed the organisers which you can read here, and you can read the official Wikifestivals review here

Stages and other entertainment

Although music acts are known to appear in other areas of the festival, the three music stages are named Old Library, Space 2 and Boxxed. Boxxed and Space 2 are converted warehouses, whereas Old Library has a more intimate setting fitting to it’s name. New and upcoming acts appear on all stages, but you will find that the longer established acts appear on Space 2.

In terms of non-music entertainment, the following can be found:

Theatre - Unlike many festival theatres who show popular mainstream choices, Supersonic opts to put on it's own, carefully selected theatre program full of indie productions. You can expect to see International films, documentaries, workshops and noise collages, with many of the items featuring a Q&A with the makers afterwards.

Exhibitions, Installations and Special Performances - The Zellig Centre, Vivid, Eastside Projects, Lakeside gallery and Grand Union are where you can expect to see more art based side of the Supersonic programme.

All on site or within short walking distance, you can expect to see audience and band collaborative performances, art and photography such as 'Incarnate' by James Robinson, as well as illustrations around the Market Place.

The Event - Separate from Supersonic, but equally promoted to fans by the organisers is The Event.

Held in various venues around Digbeth, this contemporary arts festival showcases the best variety in visual arts, performance, installation, film, video and sound.

Home Of Metal - The organisers of the festival, Capsule, also curate Home Of Metal, a project that celebrates the history of Heavy Metal, and it's birth in Birmingham and the Black Country.

Exploring the themes of Heavy Metal through exhibitions, live events and conferences, aspects of this project are brought to the festival.

2011's event saw the Grindcore: Cut N Paste exhibition which explored the influences and impact of anarcho punk bands, as well as the birth of Napalm Death. Fans were allowed to view original copies of fanzines and Napalm Death gig posters and flyers around the time of their birth.

There are also films, panels and the Birmingham Zine Festival in the market place, celebrating the alternative press form allowing small publishers to sell their books, zines and comics.

Supersonic Kids Gigs - Although away from the main festival site, kids and families have a separate special event to enjoy. On the Saturday and Sunday of the event, The Supersonic Kids gig takes place in The Mac in Birmingham.

Starting at 2.30pm, children and young teens are treated to a special performance each day, giving them space to enjoy hardcore music away from large adult crowds, as well as take part in acts that encourage audience participation.

Club Unlikely - Held in the Old Library, this music quiz opens the Old Library on the Sunday. Giving music fan a chance to show off their knowledge, entry is free and teams of 2 to 6 can be registered.

Tickets

Tickets can be bought online via the Ticket Sellers website, and the current 2012 early bird prices are £70

International visitors are encouraged to select the 'pick up' option when ordering tickets, this is to reduce the chance of lost tickets.

Children and Under 18's are welcome, but contact with the festival must be made first to discuss rules and other matters.

VIP

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Children

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Disability Access

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Weather

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Location

The festival is held at the Custard Factory, Gibb Street, Dibeth, B9 4AA

Local Information

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Travel

By Car

The M6, M5 and M42 are routes that the Custard Factory can be accessed from. In terms of parking The Custard Factory has it's own parking, however if this is full there are loads of parking lots near by tucked down side roads.

If you would like to travel by car, why not save some money with Blabla Car - the ultimate car sharing website for UK and Europe!

By Coach

The Birmingham Central Coach Station is only 5 minutes away from the venue. Check out Megabus or National Express for inter city travel details.

By Local Bus

Bus routes 13, 17, 37, 58, 60, 97 pass the Gibb Street bus stop, however because The Custard Factory is only a ten minute walk from the city centre, It would be advisable to get a bus there and walk the rest of the journey.

By Train

The closest train stations to Custard Factory are New Street Station and Moor Street station, which are both 10/15 minutes in walking distance. Check National Rail for train details, it's advised to travel outside peak hours as this is much cheaper.

By Plane

The closest airport is Birmingham Internatial Airport, from there it takes 15 minutes by train to the city centre.

Accommodation

Once your festival ticket is bought, the following hotels will give you a discount if you follow the mentioned instructions.

Nite Nite Hotel

Tel: 0845 890 90 99, Double Rooms £55.95 (2011 Price) , Supersonic Discount Details: Quote ‘super 11’ for room discount, This hotel is 15 minute walk from the Custard Factory and has the option of accessible rooms along with free Internet, plasma television screens, hi tech wet room and mood lighting.

Stay Birmingham - Arc Apartments

Tel: +44 0871 971 2952, 2 - 3 person apartment special rate £79 per night (2011 Price) , 4 -5 person partment special rate £105 per night, Supersonic Discount Details: To book through the festival special offer, call +44 0871 971 2952 and ask for Magda Pabrianto, or alternatively send an email to sales@staybirmingham.com.

The distance to the Custard factory my differ depending on where your apartment is situated, however you decide to book into one of the arc hotel style rooms, these are situated in the Arcadian Centre which is a 20 minute walk from the Custard Factory.

Each of the hotel rooms include a double bed and an ensuite bathroom, whereas the apartments include washer/dryers, fully equipped kitchens, TV/DVD players, car parking, bathrobes and toiletries, ironing board and free wi-fi access.

Paragon Hotel

Tel: +44 0121 627 0627, Single Room £37.50, Double/Twin £42.50 (2011 Price) , Supersonic Discount Details: To get your discount quote SUP211011, Apart from the appeal of the Gothic architecture, the perks of the hotel include flat screen TV’s with Freeview and free wifi.

However the following hotels and hostels are budget to mid-price recommendations:

Birmingham Central Backpackers Hostel

Tel: +44 0121 643 0033, (2011 Prices) 6-8 Bed Dorms (regular £16.00pppn, large group rate £14.50pppn) , 4 Bed Dorm (£20.00 pppn), Private room (start at £20 per night)

This hostel is a 5 minute walk from the Custard Factory and includes the following perks: free breakfast, free wi-fi, buffets, and dvd rental. The hostel has also won several awards, including the Best Hostel in England award from hostelworld.com. Hatters Hostel

Tel: +44 0121 236 4031, (2011 Prices) 12 Bed Dorm (Mid Week £14.50) (Weekend £16.50), 8 Bed Dorm (Mid Week £15.50) (Weekend £18.00), 6 Bed Dorm (Mid Week £17.50) (Weekend £19.50), 4 Bed Dorm (Mid Week £18.50) (Weekend £20.50), Triple per room (Mid Week £60.00) (Weekend £81.00), Double/Twin per room (Mid Week £40.00) (Weekend £55.00), Single (Mid Week £35.00)(Weekend £45.00)

This hostel is 30-40 minute walk from the Custard Factory and includes wifi and broadband internet, self catering kitchens, travel information desk, television lounge and pool table/games room.

What to wear

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Camping

As Supersonic is an indoor event, this is no camping however there are plenty of hotels to stay, with many taking part in the special Supersonic deal.

Site Information

Noise Volumes: - The acoustic set up of the warehouse makes for a louder then average sound, if you have sensitive hearing it’s advised to wear earplugs if standing by the massive speakers at the front, or keep back where possible.

Smoking: - There is no smoking inside the venues, however smoking is allowed in any outdoor area.

Cash Machines: - It is advised to prepare your cash before you arrive as there are no cash machines on the main site, however there is a newsagents tucked down an alleyway on the site that has a cash machine that charges £1.50 for withdrawal.

On the other hand this is likely to empty quick, so there is a coach station that is 2 min walk from the site with a cash machine, but seeing as The Custard Factory is 10 minutes walk from New Street and Moor Street station, there are plenty of opportunities in town to get cash out before you arrive.

Merchandise & Programmes: - Programmes are free and a user friendly timetable can be found at the back of the booklet.

As part of the official Supersonic merchandise, artists and printmakers such as Simon Fowler, are invited down to design limited edition prints and t-shirts.

There is also the market place where records from independent and underground are sold, along with posters and all kinds of niche gifts.

General bins and Recycling bins: - There are plenty of bins around the site, and visitors are reminded that although they are allowed to take drinks into other areas of the site, such as the Theatre and the Zellig centre, visitors must take their rubbish outside with them.

Toilets: - There are toilets situated in the Space 2 Venue, behind the Boxxed venue and inside the Zellig centre. There also toilets in the 70 Eight bar but these are only available for paying cutomers.

Food and drink

Food stands can be found in the North Yard outside the Space 2 stage. The food in this area consist of the following:

(Please bare in mind prices marked down were 2011 prices, printed just to give you a rough idea, the same goes with the mentioned food vendors)

  • Waffle Dog: with prices starting at £2.50 you could get a waffle with chocolate, or even a waffle dog with cheese and ham.

  • Italian Food: Price for all items are £5, but the portions are large and filling. You could buy a tray of meatballs with Parmesan cheese and fresh bread rolls to mop up the delicious sauce. You could also get a hot dog which use Tuscan sausages and have the option of pesto and cheese on your dog. There was also a vegetarian choice of roasted vegetables, pesto and cheese within a hot panini. If you find it hard to decide, you can also decide to have a small mixture of all items.

  • Oriental Food: For £2 you could get a cup of noodles, and for £5 you could get a chicken curry, amongst other oriental choices.

  • Burgers: A selection of Angus meat burgers and other similar products are priced at £5.

All of the food stands sold bottle of water for £2 and cans of soft drinks price at £1, a couple of the stalls offered beer at around £3.50-£3.80

Apart from the food selection in the North Yard, there is also restaurants in the Supersonic alleyways that serve a variety of other foods, staying open later just for the festival.

  • Yumm Resturant: Amongst the vegan and vegetarian friendly choices, there is also the choice to buy pizza slices for £4, an Angus burger for £5, and Hot pork and stuffing in baps for £5. The pizza slices sell out quickly so that is a choice best saved for lunchtime.

  • Bay Leaf resturant: Authentic Bangladeshi cuisine.

Aside from the food stands and the restaurants, there is also a tea and cakes room in the Market Place, which is also warm and has comfortable seating.

For further choice there is a newsagents just outside the Old Library stage, that allows customers to use their microwave and kettle for items that require it.

For beer, cider and small measures of wine you can expect to pay around £3.50, but the beer and cider do come in large plastic cups. Soft drinks cost £1.50 whereas for a spirit and mixer you can expext to pay around £4-£6 depending on a single or double.

Positive feedback shows high praise for the bar service at Supersonic, not only are the bars plentiful, but customers are served fast by friendly staff.

All venues have bars apart from the Theatre and the Zellig Centre, however if you want to enjoy a beverage in the Theatre the 70 Eight pub across the square will serve you drinks in plastic cups if you show them your festival band.

In terms of having a drink to take into the Zellig centre, there is a resturant down the alleyway next to the centre where drinks can be purchased.

The 70 Eight pub is also good to enjoy football during the festival should you need to check scores.

Each year the supersonic bars team up with a variety of real ale, cider and wine makers to bring a choice variety for customers. 2011’s supersonic bars saw the following:

  • Hogan’s Cider: 4.5% medium dry cider, pressed local fruit with no added sugar or apple concentrate.

  • Veltins: 4.8% dry German Pilsner, a type of pale larger, bitter with a light citrus finish

  • Cask Ales: Pure Ubu 4.5% and Pure Gold 3.8%

  • Kraken Cocktails: Kracken Rum were on board as a sponser, and at the festival you could request wither a ‘perfect storm’ or ‘krakola’ cocktail.

Perform at the festival

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Volunteer or work

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Drugs and security

They are prohibited on the site, and it is not unusual for your bags to be searched as you enter the site. However if you stick around certain smoking areas and keep your nose open, a whiff of marijuana can point you in the right direction if you are interested.

Stream online

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Mobile Apps

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Trivia

Launched in 2003, the festival is run by Capsule, an awarding winning organisation who specialise in live music, exhibitions and events.

Originally a 1 day festival, the lineup featured the late Coil, LCD Soundsystem and The Bug, Over the years the festival has gained a worldwide reputation for encouraging and showcasing the best international mix of experimental music.

Wikifestivals conducted an interview last year with the organisers regarding the ethos and organisation of the event, click here to read.

Past lineups

Turbonegro, Circle, Envy, Byetone, Alva Noto, Silver Apples, White Hills, Drunk In Hell, Fire!, Zombi, Electric Wizard, Wolves In The Throne Room, Monarch, Skull Defejts, Pharoah Overlord, Klaus Kinsk, Backwards, Kogumaza, Scorn, Cloaks, Scotch Egg, Drumcut, for details on full 2011 lineup click here

For information on past line ups click here.