The summer holidays are fast approaching, and this means that Summer festivals are too. There are events catering for whatever kind of music you’re into, up and down the country and abroad. In London alone there are some amazing festival line-ups at Field Day, Love Box, Wireless, and the Somerset House Summer Series, but if festivals aren’t your thing, or you feel like you’re in need of a musical warm-up, check out this SUART’S writers’ pick of London music venues!
1) The Old Blue Last EC2A 3ES
With the overground station right near by, and an abundance of great places to eat and drink on Great Eastern Street, The Old Blue is guaranteed fun. However, the best thing about this venue is that almost all of the shows are free, and they tend to get bands and musicians right before they really get recognised. They work with lots of different promoters so the listings are varied genre-wise (but mainly feature garage punk and indie bands like Drowners and The Black Tambourines). Past gigs have included Arctic Monkeys, Lil B, Amy Winehouse, Wiley, These New Puritans, and even Kylie Minogue played a surprise show there in February.
2) Heaven WC2N 6NG
Run by G-A-Y, this easy-to-reach venue often features dance/club/pop and RnB and queues of people lined up the street. Get there early if you don’t want to be disappointed - in an attempt to see Iggy Azalea we waited in line for two hours and still couldn’t get in. It does also host a range of other bands - I’ve been to see Summer Camp there, and coming up they have Bo Ningen, Grouplove and Breton. It also has club and comedy nights. A word of warning though; drinks are crazy expensive, so only buy them at Heaven if you’re feeling flashy.
3) The Shacklewell Arms E8 2EB
This venue has a real fun vibe to it, and you can find more than music if you pay it a visit. Recently this venue hosted the Repeater Festival - a weekend of live music, art stalls, tarot card readings and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles themed menu. Upcoming shows include a Field Day warm-up party, Tijuana Panthers, a return of the Repeater Festival, and their monthly hip-hop & RnB night; Hipsters Don’t Dance.
4) The Village Underground EC2A 3PQ
This is my favourite venue for the building itself - its huge ceilings give the venue good acoustics and a feeling of space (which is rare). I recently saw Blood Orange play there (featuring Samantha Urbani and Skepta), and it was an amazing show. Because of the larger space they have bigger acts, which have included WU LYF, Odd Future, Anna Calvi, Major Lazer, The XX, Black lips, and Four Tet. Tickets to upcoming shows like Lykke Li, Slowdive and Tune Yards have sold out fast so it’s a good idea to subscribe to their mailing list so you don’t miss out!
5) Birthdays N16 8BJ
Birthdays tends to have shows which sell out very quickly, which may be because of the amazing line-ups, but it may also be because it’s tiny. Still, small venues can mean a more ‘intimate’ evening, or in my case lots of sweaty people pushed up against each other, simultaneously being deafened by the sound system at a Yung Lean show. Regardless, it was one of the most fun nights I’ve had so far in London. Birthdays can feel like a bit of a mission, but you can always reward yourself with a Psychic Burger from their restaurant in residence, or a £1.50 take-away Lahmacun from Tava Ocakbasi’s down the road if you’re a bit strapped for cash.
Other venues worth a mention:
- Bussey Building - Corsica Studios - The Lexington - St. Pancras Old Church - White Heat @ Madame JoJo’s - The Lock Tavern -
Saw a famous band before they ‘made it’? Something crazy happen at a show? Let us know your favourite gig stories and share your photographs on Tumblr by tagging your post #suartsgigstories or replying on Twitter @SUARTS