JBL brings ‘jaw dropping’ sound to The Suet Yard at The Pioneer Club

For several decades, The Pioneer Club has been one of the UK grassroots music scene’s best-hidden gems. Nestled in a leafy nook of the city of St. Albans, it has been something of a spiritual home to chart-topping locals Enter Shikari, and a regular fixture on the touring circuit for countless artists and performers, among them the likes of Gallows and Bring Me The Horizon. However, for the most part, it has been very much a local concern. That is all about to change.

Last month it was announced that Headliner would be teaming up with Enter Shikari to launch Headliner Spaces, a joint-venture designed to not only revitalise The Pioneer Club, but redevelop it into one of the UK’s premier touring spots. What’s more, a brand new, world class Dolby Atmos studio and rehearsal facility is also being constructed on the same site, while its location – a mere 20 minute train ride from central London – takes its reach far beyond the immediate locale. In essence, it is set to become a musical and cultural hub with genuine nationwide appeal.

It should be noted that its focus on the local community is still paramount, with all manner of initiatives to be rolled out over the coming weeks and months that will see The Pioneer Club become a hotbed of opportunity for those on its doorstep. These will range from educational opportunities for the some of the city’s most disenfranchised people, as well as charitable causes and the chance for locals to not only take advantage of The Pioneer Club’s performance and recording spaces, but also gain invaluable experience behind the scenes as technicians and engineers.

The first part of the redevelopment arrived in July with the opening of The Suet Yard. Fully reimagined from its initial iteration as a communal canteen area, it is now a social, DJ and performance space that sits alongside the main venue area, complete with a bar powered by Signature Brew and a JBL-powered PA system that can accommodate everything from DJ sets and stripped back and acoustic sessions for up to 200 people.

The JBL PRX is brilliant as it’s such a compact system, but it really packs a punch. Alex Eales, The Pioneer Club

The full PA system is comprised of an assortment of speakers from JBL’s PRX Series, including PRX915XLF subwoofers, PRX908 and IRX108BT loudspeakers, as well as a Soundcraft Ui24R mixer.

The system was given a thorough run through its paces on the opening night of the Suet Yard, where leading execs from across the music industry, as well as friends of The Pioneer, local artists, and music fans were treated to a DJ set from Enter Shikari drummer Rob Rolfe, band High Regard, and The Pioneer’s very own Alex Eales, who handles events and management of the venue.

As well as serving in various technical capacities, from FOH engineering to lighting, he is also a long-standing frequenter of the venue, having been performing and attending shows there for more than 12 years.

“I hopped on the decks that night, and we had a fantastic band called High regard DJ as well, they were absolutely fantastic,” Eales told Headliner, recalling The Suet Yard’s opening night. “It was a lot of fun. The Suet Yard, before it was renovated, wasn’t a particularly appealing room,” he continues, describing the space’s total transformation. “It had a youth club feel to it, but with the renovation, I remember walking in and seeing and hearing it finished for the first time and my jaw just dropped. And it’s been the same for everyone who has seen it since. On the opening night we had not just friends of the Pioneer in attendance but a lot of key music industry people who wanted to see what we’re doing.”

As for the JBL PRX system that has been specified for The Suet Yard, he is effusive in his praise, not only with regard to the system itself but its suitability for the space.

It’s a system where people can get to grips with it in virtually no time at all. Alex Eales, The Pioneer Club

“I just love the sound system,” he beams. “The JBL PRX is brilliant because it’s such a compact system, but it really packs a punch. I love the clarity of sound and the bass from the subs is really, really nice. A few days ago, we had a client who is going to be DJing in The Suet Yard come in to take a look around and check out the system, and they thought it was just fantastic. When they were given a demo of the system they were so impressed with how full and punchy it sounded, especially for something so compact. It is just perfect for a place like the Suet Yard where space is at a premium and you need something really compact and powerful, and it does just that. It really does tick every box.

“The Soundcraft Ui24R mixer is also brilliant,” he continues. “It’s very intuitive. I hadn’t used one before and the opening night was the first time I was able to get hands-on with it, and it was just super easy to work with. The setup is absolutely ideal. I’ve been to events before where you’re constantly trying to work out what is going on with the kit, so to have something that is nicely designed and so intuitive is great.

“All in all, it’s a system where people can just come in and get to grips with it in virtually no time at all, which is perfect when people want to get in and get to grips with a system quickly and efficiently and just know it’ll sound great.”

With a raft of major new announcements coming up, The Pioneer Club promises to be a hive of activity for the remainder of 2023 and beyond.

You can find out more about The Pioneer Club and Headliner Spaces here.

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