All around the UK this week events have been taking place to celebrate the spaces that are the lifeblood of the live music circuit for Independent Venues Week. Every music fan has at least one venue that holds a special place in their heart, and we’ve asked some of our favourite artists to tell us about theirs.
For me, it all started at The Forum in Tunbridge Wells – the site of my first ever gig and much of musical upbringing. The former public toilet and brass rubbing centre is still going as an essential part of the live circuit, which sadly cannot be said of the next establishment to have felt like a second home, The Paradise Bar in New Cross, which was very much Joyzine HQ in our early days. The South London boozer with its much-loved light up stage floor was where I first saw the likes of Bloc Party, Art Brut, The Long Blondes and Special Needs, all of whom went on to become big favourites in these parts, and was also where I met promoter and champion of the live scene Caffy St Luce who remains an inspiration to this day. These days, there’s nowhere quite like The Windmill in Brixton – run by people who know their music and with a peculiar charm that you can’t quite put your finger on and is all the better for it, we’ve been holding Joyfest and other live shows at roof dog’s establishment for more than a decade now, as well as making regular visits for the consistently excellent schedule of up and coming bands and returning established acts who cut their teeth within the colourful swirls of its walls and want to give something back.
Anyway, enough of my ramblings – here are some picks from a selection of Joyzine faves:
GUTTFULL: The Lexington, Islington
We’ve played at some awesome independent venues, but The Lexington is a really special one for us. The music side of it there is run by an amazing woman – Delia Sparrow, a musician in her own right, who’s been in loads of bands, including Mambo Taxi. So she knows good music, and she knows what makes a great gig – for the gig-goers and for the bands too.
We first played there when we launched our EP, #NotAllMen, along with Skinny Girl Diet, The Franklys and Fightmilk . We’d all been to loads of gigs there before, so it was really special to launch our EP there and get up on that stage to a packed Lexington – and it was amazing! The sound there is brilliant – the technicians who work there are all top notch (and they’re one of the few venues in London that have regular sound techs who are women). We played there again at the LOUD WOMEN Christmas party, which was huge fun, and we’re back there again for a ‘Galentines Day Ball’ on 13 Feb, with Dream Nails and The Menstrual Cramps. https://www.facebook.com/events/147208975887484/
Burning Condors: The 12 Bar Club, Soho
Our most cherished grassroots venue was 12 Bar Club on London’s Denmark Street. Amongst the hustle and bustle of Soho, it was one of the last remaining outposts for live music. The stage was so small you had to fight for space and the drums invariably fell off the back, but the sound was great and people of all nationalities stopped by hoping to catch a great new band. It had a real community vibe.
We played a number of shows there, but it also fulfilled other vital roles for us as a band just starting out, such as watching and learning from great live bands (Penny Black Remedy stands out), a meeting venue and the scene of our first photo shoot – amongst the chimney pots on the roof of the building!
Napoleon IIIrd: The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
My favourite venue is The Brudenell Social Club. Nathan, who runs the place really cares about music and wants to help bands and audiences alike. Head in any day, at any time and it is a fantastic mix of old time regulars, students, musicians and people who spend too much time doing their hair.
Favourite memories? So many… Jason Molina on his last tour. Playing a farewell gig with the band I formed with Jamie Mi Mye, Little Japanese Toy. Shellac.
Napoleon IIIrd’s album, The Great Lake was released last year and gigs are currently being booked for later this year.
Piney Gir: The Lexington, Islington
The Lexington is my favourite venue to play! The sound is always good, they treat you nice there as an artist, the bar stays open late so after the show you can have a drink and chat to your friends/fans who attended the gig, location-wise it’s handy, all in all it’s a great indie venue.
My favourite venue was the legendary late, lamented Filthy MacNasty’s. Part-owned by Shane MacGowan and erstwhile habitude of the formative Libertines, Filthy’s was a den of bonhomie, revelry and iniquity of the highest order, allegedly built on leylines shooting straight across to Glastonbury Tor. It was part music venue, part magical mystery tour, existing in its own space-time vortex innocently (or not-so-innocently) unaware of the rest of the world revolving around it.
I lived there for a while, in a room festooned with the poetic ramblings of Peter Doherty on the walls, the ceiling… anywhere there was space. But, alas, Filthy’s was and will always be the venue equivalent of the Swinging Sixties… if you remember it, you weren’t really there…
Darling BOY is currently starring in All Or Nothing: The Mod Musical, showing in London’s Swinging West End from February 6th – March 11th. He releases the first single from his debut album, produced by Matt Terry (The Enemy) in April.
Uncle Luc: The Boileroom, Guildford
Article by Paul Maps
All photographs provided by the bands