Bands and Brands

PHILIP HOLLIS FOR TIME

SIGN OF THE TIMES: London's venerable Brixton Academy is part of a growing chain of Carling Academy music venues across Britain

At first glance the scene could be from any one of several generations of London rock gigs: a flurry of plastic beer tumblers flying through the air as the band strikes up its biggest hit and the lead singer dives onto the uplifted hands of the bouncing Brixton Academy crowd. But closer inspection pinpoints the scene as part of a surging — and financially secure — live pop-music scene in 2006.

What are the clues? First, the sign above the door says Brixton Carling Academy, incorporating the name of the biggest-selling beer in Britain and main sponsors of...

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