London is home to some of the best music venues in the world. It was really hard narrowing them down to a list of five, but here’s what I think are five top venues in the capital city.
Scala is one of the most accessible venues in London, sitting just opposite King’s Cross station. Having been home to some of the most famous headliners, like when The Stooges played their only UK date in 1972, Scala is by far one of the most iconic venues in London. The cabaret style light-up signage illuminates the surrounding parapet, and makes for a stand out manner that Scala will hopefully maintain into the future.
2. The Lexington
Just a ten minute walk from Scala is The Lexington. Priding itself on authentic American craft beers, and what’s probably the biggest chandelier in Islington, The Lexington is all about up and coming bands. Downstairs consists of a large open-plan room with sofas dotted around, but upstairs is where the music happens. A cosy floor with a big enough stage allows for an intimate atmosphere with bands that will likely go on to sell out venues like Scala, such as Vant. You’re guaranteed a good night if you go to The Lexington. Period.
3. Electric Ballroom
The Electric Ballroom is one of Camden’s oldest music venues, first opening in the 1930s. A lot has changed since then, including its now notorious reputation. The Electric Ballroom has seen the likes of Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Blur, and Joy Division, all of who are world renowned. The Ballroom needs no approval. Inside, you’ll find a fair sized room, with an overarching balcony that let’s you see your favourite bands from a higher perspective. The Ballroom is a must if you’re visiting, or living in London
What was once one of the largest theatres outside of the West End, now know as Koko, has held some of the biggest gigs in London. Among the various acts to have graced its stage, The Clash, Iron Maiden, and The Sex Pistols are probably the most established, also famous for its acid house in the 90s. The inside of Koko is nothing less than a great feat of architecture. The enormous floor allows for any night to let loose. The building is overly tall, so naturally you’d think sound would be drowned out by the high ceilings. But, Koko has managed to set up a quality sound-system, that makes any band sound like My Bloody Valentine. There’s multiple balconies across various floors, that lead out to an unusually large terrace where you can enjoy the music from inside, with the sun outside.
5. The Camden Assembly
Formally known as The Barfly, The Camden Assembly was re-opened in September 2016 and given a complete makeover. It’s cool because the building stands out in an ever-looming gentrification of Camden. It has a really nice bar downstairs, and then a perfectly sized music room upstairs, where bands like The Vryll Society have played. The original metal copy board behind the bar makes for a stark, raw feeling, and adds to the originality of the 90s birtpop culture it built itself on. It’s a real gem of a venue, in a place that’s quickly losing its musical identity.
Take a look at my Steller story I made on London’s Top Five Gig Venues;