Issue 396
View this email in your browser


She’s all grown up! B-Town’s very own Flatpack Festival turns sweet sixteen this May. But in typical Flatpack fashion, they’re not doing the usual, such as applying for a moped licence or learning their National Insurance number off by heart. Instead, they are once again bringing a vertiginous variety of cinema, audio visuals and in-person performances to venues all across Brum, May 17 to 22. With this year’s new comedy strand mixing in the laughs with the luscious imagery (see Anna Vasoff's Amazon Woman, above), how do you know which event to go and see? Enter: I Choose... with our pick of the ‘pack.
Joe Lycett's Curiosities with Shaun Keaveny — May 17
Taking a break from winding the government up with fake Sue Gray reports and taking the Oil Giants to task, Brummie Mummy Joe Lycett showcases his first foray into filmmaking. And yes, of course it was made right here in Brum. As well as sharing the short films that inspired him to finally get behind the camera, he’ll also be grilled by 6Music alumnus and bezzie mate, Shaun W Keaveny, who’ll no doubt want to know the Five Ws: What, Why, When, Who and err, How. Tickets  
The ICHI Anime Show — May 19
In our day, if you’d have said ‘one-man band’, you’d expect a drum on the back, cymbals between the knees and a harmonica in the gob. Thankfully, we’ve moved on a bit and The ICHI Anime Show features one-man musical scores performed on self-made and modified instruments... one which may or may not be a Sony Discman-onica. For that extra layer of intrigue, the live score is also set to seminal Japanese anime shorts of the 60s, 70s and 80s. One man, one band, five stars. Tickets
Frankie's Laguna Beach — May 21
Punk rock puppet show. If those four words haven’t grabbed you already, how about throwing in a beach party afterwards? Belgian band, Frankie, brings raucous live music together with filmed scenes that flit between the funny and the freaky. The live performance forms a scene with the surrounding DIY structure, which is made up of old-school TVs, makeshift ladders and a model boat being rowed with more than one cox. I went down an internet rabbit hole researching this one. Tickets
People on Sunday, Haiku Salut/Meg Morley — May 22
If you’ve heard of indie docu-rockers, Public Service Broadcasting, you’ll have no doubt come across their collaborators, Haiku Salut. A little bit synthy, a little bit ambient and big on experimentation, they’re an interesting musical outing in their own right. But they promise something special when paired up with Australian jazz pianist, composer and improvisor Meg Morley. Together, they’ll be performing the world premiere of their score to Billy Wilder’s classic silent film, People on Sunday (1930, pictured). The score was specially commissioned by Flatpack, no less. Tickets
Tattered Earth — May 20
Papier-mâché mogul, felt tip tyrant and Brummie cult artist, Tat Vision, mixes things right up by blending film with a real life rave in an interactive amalgamation of ideas that The Mighty Boosh might have rejected for being too 'out there'. With the audience fully integrated into the fabric of the show, you might not be invited up on stage, or even get a podium to yourself, but it’s probably time to dust off your big fish, your little fish and maybe even your cardboard box. Tickets
Optical Sound — May 20 & 21
Flatpack's Optical Sound makes us feel like we’ve been flung far into the future. Audiovisual voice performance from Austrian artist, Jörg Piringer, and Googling nightmare 'abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz' could be a festival show-stealer. Image and sound are created in real-time through custom written software that analyses and captures the sound of Jörg's voice to create animated, abstract, visual text and sound compositions. Sounds mad, will be mad. Get it in ya. Tickets
Alistair Green — May 20
The Insta comedian went from strength to strength during the old Locky-D and now the ‘front-facing camera comic’ swaps the phone screen for a live set, followed by an in-person Q&A. It’s much like an Instagram story but in real life, so you can actually reach out and touch him*. Previously, he’s live-narrated the Fifty Shades of Grey series to his nan and sent up Middle England — so expect laughs and too-close-for-comfort chuckles. *I've just been advised: patrons should refrain from touching Mr Green. Tickets
Some Like It Hot with cocktails — May 21
Widely considered one of the best comedies ever made, Some Like it Hot is an irresistible classic from director Billy Wilder, featuring Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon as two hapless musicians on the run after witnessing a Mafia hit. Yikes! How do they get out of this one? By disguising themselves as women in an all-female jazz band, of course. The magic begins when it soon becomes clear that the pair have bitten off more than they can chew. Expect laughs, sizzling dialogue and Marilyn on the ukulele. Tickets are £30 per person, which includes three specially crafted cocktails provided by the wonderful Wine Events Company. Tickets
Wonderland — May 19
Wonderland is the expo that examines how Brummies’ lives have been changed by cinema over the past 125 years. Flatpack Projects and Birmingham 2022 Festival are presenting the exhibition back in the newly-opened Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, as if you needed an excuse to pile back in there, come April. There are also plenty of accompanying events to boot. Us? We’re up for the Wonderland Pecha Kucha. That gives you 20 pictures and 20 seconds each to tell your cinema story. Go. Tickets
Luisa Omielan/Sister Act 2 — May 19
Brummie comedian, Luisa Omeilan, introduces one of her all time fave funny films with Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. Starring Whoopi Goldberg, a positively sprightly-looking Maggie Smith and Lauryn Hill, it’s got nuns swinging from wires, entendres without the need for the double and Whoopi simply being Whoopi. But why has Omielan chosen this Catholic comedy caper over the original (and in our opinion, far Superior) Sister Act? Who knows. But we reckon there’s a story there. Haha. “Habit.” Only just got that. Tickets
BAFTA-qualifying shorts programme — May 18 to 22
Much like yours truly, this shorts programme flits from existential one minute to hysterical the next. The hypnotic Menagerie (pictured) is a study of repetitive human behaviours that, although mundane, get more rewarding the more times it loops around. No? Then look, here’s Sierra, a surreal slice of animation that sees a boy transform into a tyre to win a car race. Throw in a space graveyard, paddling to Hong Kong and a tennis ball on its day off, and every mood is catered for in film form. Tickets
The full programme for Flatpack is here


What you see above is the first ever Digbeth Dining Club, a decade ago. In the white gazebo, to the right, is Birmingham burger stalwart, Original Patty Men who, having forgotten their gazebo on their first ever event, had to share one with another trader, each crew getting just 1.5 metres of food-slinging real estate. Below, you'll see Digbeth Dining Club as you now know it: a fully-fledged food operation serving thousands, pictured at Warwick Castle, one of the dozens of locations they regularly rock up to. Times have changed, and no mistake, but their passion remains the same; the once small DDC was instrumental in pioneering the street food industry outside London. In what will be their tenth year of existence, the team have announced a 35-date, 15-location celebration — including 10 weeks at Warwick Castle where, alone, they have served a quarter of a million diners since 2020. Fear not, DDC’s two permanent Brum venues — Hockley Social Club and Herbert's Yard — will continue to offer what they always do, but part of their stable of over 60 food traders (plus 50 DJs and 12 bar or brewery vendors) will go on a tour of the West Midlands, as a thank you to their now sprawling home; the name Digbeth long outgrown. The summer programme of events will begin with a 3,000 capacity festival, May 27 to 29, with headliners including the House Gospel Choir, 28-piece orchestra, Ibiza Symphonic, and Norman Jay. Other venues set to be taken over include Merry Hill’s scenic Waterfront, the 18th Century mansion, Himley Hall, Coventry Cathedral Ruins, Bromsgrove Rugby Club and The Tamworth Pleasure Grounds. Tickets for all events go on sale at 11am today (March 31) here. Prices vary. 


An ear-ringing bassline, rave, strobe lights, writhing bodies, all in a digital black box. Not Glastonbury’s Block 9 but – delivering an equally disconcerting slap to your comfort zone – this is the opening to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, the onstage adaptation of Mark Haddon’s novel. It’s in Brum, at the Birmingham Hippodrome for a week (until April 2), and really should not be missed. Illustrating the increased understanding of the lived experience of neurodiverse people since the novel and play’s first run, it’s now on its second outing, with a stage production that’s frantic, overwhelming at times, and incredibly compelling. It’s kinetic, with movement and sound the narrative forces to make you understand the 15 year-old hero, Christopher’s, unique perspective on the world and to keep you immersed in the disordered segments of the play. There’s a sense-achingly realistic portrayal of London’s tube chaos for any out-of-towners, and amongst serious subject content, nods and winks to the audience lighten the tone as we witness the discombobulating feelings Christopher lives through. The interval gives you respite from the chaotic events on stage, just as you start to understand his experience. Returning for the second half, even the coldest heart will be warmed by the final act (a cuuuute deus ex machina), ending bittersweetly. Kudos to the effects department for smashing out an encore in which I still don’t understand how Christopher solved a Maths equation, but I do know explaining it with flair and confetti might earn you points for showing your working. Act fast, tickets (from £24) will go quickly. 


Fans of bringing work home with them will love the new Wine Club at Cafe Artum; they’ve got presentation slides, guys! But death by PowerPoint, it ain’t. Turns out, it’s what wine tasting might be missing. Sat in the very chic Cafe Artum surroundings, nestled within a corner of Hockley Social Club, at £49 you can relax and enjoy four frequently topped-up glasses of vino while perfectly selected vinyls spin and the friendliest, not-a-sommelier-but-self-confessed-wine-nerd, Alex Smith (formerly of Carters), talks you through the selection. The charm is that for each event it’s all one vineyard; sampling a range of wines to experience their grapes several ways. Greeted with a bubbly and a table education on the Pet Nat process (alongside a shocking discovery that ‘old’ vines are just 50ish years old!), you’ll then be expertly taken through three additional whites and reds, matched with some very fine Andy Low ‘n’ Slow plates. First time around, this was a Tamworth pork with cauliflower mole, to complement and– interestingly– compare with both a white and a red from the supplier du jour, Testalonga Wines. Alex makes this a compelling tour, avoiding overwhelming you by sticking with one vineyard’s range and their different processes; a digestible amount of wine wisdom that you won’t forget once you leave (although no one checked if the slides would be circulated afterwards…). He has a knowledge and relaxed approach to talking you through wine that doesn’t make you feel like a self-conscious fraud for not tasting what everyone else reckons, and will softly nudge you to your own opinions on each one. As predominantly a wine tasting, conveniently there’s the choice of HSC right outside Artum’s doors, if you’re still hankering for extra grub afterwards or just want to stay, drink on, and beckon in Friday’s hangover. A great monthly quaffing sesh for the diary, and the next do is May 26. You can follow Artum on Facebook or Instagram
WINE IS OCCURRING! Birmingham Wine Weekend, this way comes. Starts Monday (April 4) and runs for a week, riding roughshod over its own name. 

Moseley Record Fair will be taking place in Kings Heath, presumably because it's the better suburb. April 3
Birmingham Fake Festival has got 'so bad it's good' written all over it. Fake Oasis, fake Green Day, fake Kasabian, fake Chilli Peppers; all at Kings Heath Park, May 7, £32.50.
Brum's only Parmo night returns to Cork & Cage, Stirchley, Tuesday (April 5). More
If you've got one eye on your movements in April of 2023 then tickets are now on sale for the live audience version of Josh Widdicombe and Rob Beckett's runaway podcast hit, Parenting Hell. They'll be at Utilita Arena, April 28. £41.60 

"I was once doing a gig with Tim Vine; he was backstage, and there was one of those long strings of polystyrene coffee cups. He picked up the whole stack of about 20, walked on stage and then said: “Bloody hell this coffee’s hot!” which I think is the funniest thing anyone has ever said."

Josh Widdicombe

Subscribe free
WORDS: Tom Cullen, Robb Sheppard
PICS: Matt Crockett, (Joe Lycett)

We will never share your email address. Ads and commercial offers are clearly marked. We sometimes run paid for Partnership Emails with selected affiliates. These will be marked as Partnership Emails at the top of the email.

I Choose Birmingham, 18 Great Western Arcade, Birmingham B2 5HU
Copyright © 2022 Birmingham Publishing Group Ltd, All rights reserved.

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences