Whether you live in London, are visiting or are looking to move here, knowing where to go to not only catch a great gig but also mix with the likeminded can make or break a person’s experience in the capital.
For that reason, here are 12 of the best independent gig venues in and around the city:
1. The Fighting Cocks, Old London Road, Kingston Upon Thames
South West London’s most famous (and notorious) gig venue is to be found a stone’s throw from Kingston Train Station along the Old London Road – just look out for the row of bright red phone booths leaned against one and another like toppled dominos.
Inside, The Fighting Cocks is split into two separate spaces with guests entering its American, biker style themed bar which leads on to its dedicated venue space where many of London’s most cult and underground rock and punk bands have and do play as well as many of the country’s (and the world’s) top comedians including the likes of Robin Williams, Bill Bailey, Jo Brand, Jack Dee and Jimmy Carr.
2. The Dublin Castle, Parkway, Camden
Most famous these days for being one of the later singer, Amy Winehouse’s favourite pubs, The Dublin Castle in Camden has been going strong since the 70s’.
Run by the same family for over thirty years, it was once a hub for Britpop bands and is today still attracting big names from The Arctic Monkeys to Billy Bragg and The killers.
3. The Half Moon, Lower Richmond Road, Putney
Helping to put Putney in South West London back on the map is The Half Moon.
Featuring tartan clad booths, grub as good as its acts and an array of underground and as well some of the country’s best tribute bands (including The Rollin Stoned), the Half Moon is an effortlessly and quintessentially real London boozer that attracts real talent and serves a decent array of drinks as well.
4. KOKO, Camden High Street, Kings Cross
A stone’s throw from Mornington Crescent tube is the infamous club, KOKO.
A former theatre where Charlie Chaplin used to perform, the club is in 2017 one of London’s most well known indie music venues, but also hosts a plethora of acts from all genres.
5. The Windmill, Blenheim Gardens, Brixton
On the outside looking like a backstreet pub more likely to feature in an Irvine Welsh novel of episode of Shameless than as part of a lo-down of London’s greatest Independent music venues, The Windmill is in fact all the cooler for refusing to spend money on aesthetics over acts.
One of the biggest and best loved venues amongst London’s leftfield performers and musicians, for those looking for a truly authentic and no frills night out, The Windmill ticks both boxes.
6. The Bedford, Bedford Hill, Balham
In contrast to the authentic rock’n’roll take on interior (and exterior) design at The Windmill, The Bedford occupies a Grade Two listed Georgian Hotel in Balham, and inside lends its stage to all manner of performers from comedians to Musicians and up and coming bands to Rock legends – including the likes of U2 and The Clash, along with in more recent years Ed Sheeran, who record his first ever album at The Bedford.
7. The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Road, Camden
Famously giving stage to Feeder in late 2016 after the band had a four year break, The Roundhouse is well known for turning gigs into something far more and being the place where rock’n’roll history is made.
Most recently staging a Mad Hatter’s Hip Hop Tea Party in collaboration with Zoo Nation, for those looking for something a little more than hearing their favourite band just reeling off their biggest hits, keep an eye on The Roundhouse’s calendar.
8. Club 100, Oxford Street, Fitzrovia
Giving a stage to jazz, indie, rock and comedy performers since 1942, Club 100 is one of Central London’s most authentic, non-pretentious and respected independent gig venues to call The Capital its home.
Names to grace its stage over the years include an eclectic bunch from Louis Armstrong to The Sex Pistols and Billi holiday to The Rolling Stones, with Cub 100 today being legendary for its part in promoting and encouraging the punk movement.
9. The Scala, Pentonville Road, Kings Cross
Less than three minutes walk from Kings Cross and St Pancreas Station is London’s historical and much loved venue, Scala.
Formally a cinema showing adult movies before Iggy Pop & The Stooges went on to play one of their only UK gigs there, Scala has in the years since welcomed a dizzying array of big names to its stage, from Deftones to Coldplay and Lacuna Coil to The Chemical Brothers.
10. Bush Hall, Uxbridge Road, Shepherds Bush
Bush Hall in Shepherds Bush is a bit of an anomaly amongst London’s indie venues; think of it as the weird kid that somehow hangs with the cool crowd.
Offering gig goers discounts on its pizza and food along with the cost of a ticket and attracting performers from Sophie Ellis Bexter to Bastille and the effortlessly cool and legendary Paul Weller to the rather more niche Magic Numbers, Bush Hall is none the less a venue that deserves its place in a top 12 lo-down of London’s best independent gig venues, if only for its eclectic and often legendary bookings.
11. Nambucca, Holloway Road, Holloway
Among the stars to stud the stage at Nambucca in Holloway are Wolf Alice who’s tracks most recently featured on the much anticipated T2 Trainspotting soundtrack. That isn’t Nambucca’s only savvy booking though, in fact this independent north London venue is famous for them.
Recently refurbished and now featuring walls splattered with iconic art portraits that pay homage to likes of ‘Bowie, Cobain, Hendrix, Winehouse and Prince’ this is one London venue that is growing to be as famous as many of its acts did after first gracing its stage.
12. Café 1001, Brick Lane, Shoreditch
Not to be confused with Club 100, Café 1001 is an albeit wild card of sorts to feature on a lo-down of London’s best independent gig venues, but none the less one much loved by locals and those too cool for the more mainstream venues in London.
Located in the Old Truman Brewery at the far end of London’s famous Brick Lane, Café 100, the once home of its own book orphanage, is a great supporter of local talent and poets as well as musicians and is perhaps London’s best underground and cult indie venue in 2017.