Ferocious Dog playing at Rock City in 2015
|Address||8 Talbot Street|
|Owner||DHP Family Ltd|
|Type||Music venue and Nightclub|
|Seating type||Primarily standing, some seating|
It opened in December 1980, first hosting The Undertones, and has gone on to host some of the biggest names in alternative music, as well as maintaining a number of weekly club nights. It has been described by NME as "sweaty, but truly indie", and has received numerous awards, including Kerrang! magazine's Venue of the Year for ten consecutive years.
Rock City is based in Nottingham City Centre, with a capacity of 2,000. The club features six bars spread across three rooms. There is the Main Hall and the Basement (Beta) rooms, both of which are all-standing during gigs. The third room, the Black Cherry Lounge, is operated separately (prior to September 2011 it was known as The Rig). Rock City plays host to various sized gigs, from smaller upcoming bands of the underground and local scene, to bands that are in the charts.
The building opened as the Alexandra Skating Rink on 23 November 1876 and was renamed Victoria Halls in 1887. It closed in May 1928 and the proprietor, Mr. Walker started a new venture with a new Palais de Danse which was opened in 1929 in Greyfriars Hall, Greyfriar Gate.
Prior to Rock City the building was called The Heart of the Midlands, which hosted variety acts including the inaugural World Professional Darts Championship in 1978. The building was taken over by Sammy Jackson, who already owned a club called the Retford Porterhouse where he had booked bands such as AC/DC and The Clash, along with George Akins Snr., a local bookmaker, who bankrolled the new venture. The club was managed by Paul Mason, who would go on to manage Manchester's Haçienda nightclub, and had Iron Maiden booked to be the band to open the venue, although unfinished electrics resulted in the gig being cancelled. As a result, Orange Juice became the first band to play at Rock City on 11 December 1980 supporting The Undertones, who ended the gig with "Teenage Kicks".
Rock City underwent a major refit in 1982 which included a purpose-built sound system, lighting rig and two video screens. Although the club remained faithful to the spirit of rock, with riots at sold-out gigs by The Pogues and Ozzy Osbourne, it was never restricted by genre as by 1982 the club already had a well-established Futurist night every Saturday and were considering starting a student night on Thursdays, approaching DJ Jonathan Woodliffe, who performed the first Thursday night to a crowd of about 400 people. Following the success of Thursday nights the club looked at introducing a dance night, initially playing a mixture of European electronica and American releases, although this was not as successful and was cancelled after a few months. It was replaced by a jazz, funk and soul night which was advertised by word of mouth and was well received. To add to the diversity in music, Rock City also hosted all-age hip-hop jams on Saturday afternoons, establishing breakdancers the Rock City Crew, and the club would also host the first performance of Bring the Noise in the UK by Public Enemy.
As alternative music changed, Rock City changed with it. Grunge and punk became popular in the first part of the 90's, with bands such as Nirvana and Rage Against the Machine appearing. The intimate environment allowed for band members such as Eddie Vedder and Kurt Cobain to sit at the bar with fans after their gigs. Equally, as Britpop became established, Rock City found itself hosting the likes of Oasis and Blur. The Nineties also saw the club change management, as George Akins Jnr. took over at his father's request in 1994, aged just 19 and having previously worked on the bar and cloakroom.
On 28 November 2015 Ferocious Dog became the first unsigned band to sell out the venue. Rock City has remained one of the biggest names on the live circuit for alternative bands and celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2016.
In January 2013, Nottinghamshire police stated that between September 2011 and August 2012, 10% of all mobile phones stolen in the Nottinghamshire area were stolen at Rock City. Bart Easter, the club's general manager, claimed that organised crime gangs who followed bands on tour were partly to blame.
The venue currently hosts four club nights:
The following is a list of recordings made at Rock City: