With Independent Venue week just round the corner, NAT JONES explores some of London’s best small gig spots.


Windmill Brixton

Misty Miller at Independent Venue Week. Image courtesy of Brixton Buzz.


Undoubtedly my favourite small venue in London. Just a short walk away from Brixton’s glitzier venues such as Electric, The Windmill is a countercultural hub for DIY, underground live music. Nestled at the end of a side street, and rather unprepossessing from the outside, The Windmill is a wonderful, bohemian space and epitomises what a small venue should be and do. On its humble stage you can see both newly established and undiscovered bands, putting on busy and affordable gigs. Shame, one of London’s most exciting young acts, cut their teeth here and many have followed similarly.  

Who’s played recently?

The Windmill was the location for my halloween. I knew it wouldn’t fail me A six band night for a mere £4. ‘Phoboghosts’ and ‘Ghost Girl’ (Phobophobes, Goat Girl) were the perfect picks with their aloof aesthetic. UCL’s Sistertalk and 3peace also had a stunning headliners last Autumn.

What to see next?

The Windmill is the place to be for IVW. Monday through to Friday they have headline slots from Goat Girl, Madonnatron, Sorry, Warmduscher and Phobophobes; fantastic acts and a refreshingly high female to male ratio of performers.

The Shacklewell Arms

Something in common with the best small music venues in London is their lack of pretension. Whilst Shoreditch posers prance about drinking Brewdog in art bars, the best venues, most in touch with the musical zeitgeist, are showing the football and cater for their locals. Much like, the Windmill, the Shacklewell Arms fulfills this and more. Set in Suburban Dalston, it’s an absolutely wonderful venue to explore.

Who’s played recently?

UCL’s RareFM had a great show here with all the university’s usual suspects performing (3peace, Cosydrive etc.) . This winter has also seen some great Bad Vibrations shows (Madonnatron, Montero and Bad Nerves all for free!)

What to see next?

The 26th-28th January sees Label Mates multi-venue festival take place. The Shacklewell is hosting Nervous Conditions, Sistertalk and The Honkies on the Saturday.


The Old Blue Last – Shoreditch

UCL band, Flatlands, at The Old Blue Last (6/7/19).

Shoreditch, hipster ground zero, is surprisingly, rather sparse in exciting venues. Whilst Hackney, Dalston and Camden all display a plethora of fine establishments, The OBL is the shiny light in vacuous Shoreditch and strives to be helping friend to bright, young bands. It has been a servant to Arctic Monkeys, Lily Allen and Young Knives to name a few.

Who’s played recently?

South Londoners, Tangerines, played a secret free show with Milk Disco support and a Fat White Family DJ set. This winter there has been sets from the likes of young punksters King Nun, Gnarwolves, and _____. The OBL is has some notable free gigs as well. Look out, especially, for the Scruff of The Neck gigs their.  

What to see next?

There is a great show with psyche blues crew Holy Bouncer, with support from UCL’s Barbudo Sunday 28th Jan. Indie pop outfit Bengal Bouncers have an IVW slot on 1st and High Vis follow them on the 2nd with their Buzzcocks inspired post-punk-boppery.

Corsica Studios – Elephant

Image courtesy of Kennington Runoff

Situated beneath The Northern Line, Corsica Studios is a cavernous hole but an intriguing gig venue and club night spot.

Who’s played recently?

Londoners, Sorry, signed off their UK tour with Childhood with their own Headliner on 5th December. They are a prodigious talent, with a four album deal on Domino secured, they are an exciting prospect for 2018. Earlier, in November, Oxfordian rising stars, Low Island, performed two sold out nights. However, the venue is best known for their eclectic mix DJ nights. Tel Aviver Noga Erez was one of the most exciting autumn slots.

What to see next?

 Eclectic multi instrumentalist, Oscar Jerome brings his solo project on the 31st January.

For something a bit different, Iglooghost performs his ‘dubstep x lofi’ electronica with video installation on 1st February.  


The Lock Tavern – Camden

The Wytches. Image courtesy of The Lock Tavern.

The Lock is Camden’s finest small venue. It presents a wide variety of genres in its tiny upstairs room. What it lacks in a quality PA it more than makes up for with its charged atmosphere

Who’s played recently?

Savage Sounds had their first show of the year on 18th November. Coseydrive, Bluto and 3peace performed to a pack out student crowd. From crazy, acid-Mac Demarco, through King Krule’s Pink Floyd autopsy and, finally, to a thrilling conclusion of Bonobo esque jazz/electronica, this was a stunning display of creativity and prodigious talent. The next day, Bad Vibrations had their free all-dayer festival headlined by And Yet It Moves. In addition, The Canshaker Pi gigged on the 12th December. (they also played The Shacklewell Arms on the 17th). These dates came amidst their tour with The Cribs; clearly a talented act that should not be missed.

What to see next?

Angry Hull boys, Vulgarians, attend on the 30th January. Their support, gaygirl, are fresh on the London scene and bring Jefferson Airplane psychadelia into their pop noir. No Friendz look like a cool bunch of weirdos to check out on the 2nd of February, also.


Moth Club – Hackney

Phobophobes at Moth Club, (13/3/17). Courtesy of Ebyan Rezgui

It is refreshing to see a venue that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Moth Club is funny and perhaps a little ironic with Its 80s disco nights, and funkathons. On the other hand, it’s a popular venue with one of London’s most exciting promoters, Bad Vibrations – they never put on a bad night. Their brand alone is enough to draw a vast crowd. The ex rotary club is a hub for the cultish fan.

Who’s played recently?

Lady Gaga and Mark Ronson performed at Moth Club last year for what must be one of their smallest ever shows. Beyond this one-off, Gurr had a standout gig, recently. Art poppers, Dutch Uncles play on 16th December. A sure fire hit for anyone fans of skillful, slick musical prowess. As testament to the incredible breadth of events in this rotary club, Peep Show aficionados also gathered together for the nerdiest of quizzes. A pair of sad thirtysomethings fended off competition from all the other 5 person teams…

What to see next?

Moth does retro nostalgia very well. On 2nd February they have a Madonna night and recently they’ve done events with Radiohead through to ABBA. Oh yeah and there’s the Sex And The City quiz on the 30th of January.
The Waiting Room – Stoke Newington

Image courtesy of Miranda Cattermole

The Waiting Room has a fine array of electronic music on show. Since being relaunched by the people responsible for The Lock and Shacklewell Arms, it’s become one of the best of its kind.

Who’s played recently?

Though limited on the big names, The Waiting Room has a high quantity of talented artists, particularly in electronic styles, which differentiates itself from most of the great London venues – those being mainly a vehicle of white rock music.

What to see next?

The Next installment of Savage Sounds falls on 27th February. Partnering up with promoters, Multi-Storey, this is sure to be another intense night of stunningly good university bands. 3peace, Be sure to save this date in your diary.


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Featured image courtesy of www.ntia.co.uk

CategoriesMusic Nat Jones