“From the outset we wanted to challenge preconceptions of a venue and focus on the experience.” – Danny Hughes (@HeyMrHughes), one of the creators and thinkers behind MSA.
If you haven’t already had the pleasure of checking MSA (@MusicSlashArt) out, then I really advise you to do so. Located on the thriving Playhouse District, just around the corner from the Theatre Royal and Tyneside Cinema, stands the beautiful new Bar & Late Rooms which is easily a first of its kind to Newcastle. Brought to us from the people behind Unit 44 (an art studio which dedicates itself to the Contemporary Street Art Movement) - MSA has been causing hype and excited anticipation around the town for a good few weeks running up to its opening.
Officially launched on the 22nd of August, most of you would have had the opportunity to go, suss out and form an opinion on this hotly anticipated venue, which not only offers you a unique setting, but also guarantees to provide all of its visitors with a thought provoking experience.
What is MSA and what does it do?
“MSA is our vision of what a music venue ought to be. Intimate, personal, & credible with emphasis on all the things we look out for when travelling to our favourite cities across the world. Our simple mantra ‘Music Slash Art’ outlines a bespoke underground space, a blank canvas for some of the most celebrated ‘outsider’ artists on the planet, contrasted against design classics. It's been something we've always wanted to do, we run a gallery here in Newcastle, we activate various events, it was only a matter of time before these elements fused together.”
Titled a ‘Bar & Late Rooms’, MSA’s focus is certainly not centred on alcohol and drink promotions. Although it does have a specially crafted and quirky cocktail menu, along with a good selection of draft beers, its focus really is on the Music Slash Art - giving it that unique selling point for people who enjoy a space with a difference where you can take in and appreciate your surroundings, have a dance and generally just have a really good time.
“We use the phrase 'concept to concrete' quite often here, we don't believe anything like this has ever been done anywhere let alone Newcastle. The heart and soul of the venue is the concept itself. Music Slash Art runs through the very grain of the space and initiates every experience. We don't believe anyone has had such an 'involved' relationship with the space they occupy.”
The venue, which you might have guessed, plays host to an array of different art installations from well travelled and respected artists, offers you a different sensory experience. It gives you the space and invites you to soak up the environment and grasp the MSA vibe, which you can clearly sense has been lovingly created by its owners. E
“In creating something completely original we provide quite simply an alternative, a place that challenges the consumer, to strike opinion, and discussion. It's not enough for us to make something inoffensive and hope people decide to come here. From the outset we wanted to challenge preconceptions of a venue and focus on the experience.”
Along with bespoke one-off events, bookings, and live acts, the venue will be a hot spot for some of Newcastle finest DJ’s.
“The likes of Smoove (of Smoove and Turrell), Tommy Rocksteady, Jason Hopper, LKP, and even MSA director Steven Dunn will all feature in the weekly programme. The policy, more often than not we simply advocate 'good music'. Soul, funk, Hip Hop, and everything in between... the genres are broad but the music is always good.”
Steering completely away from the commercial and generic bar and club venue which most of us would have become accustomed to, MSA is pioneering Newcastle’s night life culture onwards and upwards, introducing to us its unique take on what a proper Bar & Late Rooms should all be about. Go along, clear your mind of any preconceptions, form your own opinion on it and return for more, because that is exactly what I’ll be doing.