London has a long spanning history of the arts, especially when it comes to music. Many of the best musicians in the UK have either come from or made their debuts in London. With its melting pot of cultures, ideas and creativity, it’s no wonder that international talent is drawn to the expansive potential of the city. So, if you’re staying at the Best Western Plus or other hotels near Heathrow, and looking for ways to engage with the music scene deeper in the city, then this guide will help you through the ins and outs. Below are some of the best areas to visit for gigs, open mics and historic musicians who have massaged the ears of the capital.
Home of the late Amy Winehouse, Camden is well known as one of the best places to find new music. With an array of venues showing the best in local and international talent, Camden is one of the most popular destinations for those looking for both arena venues and pub gigs. It’s no surprise that Camden has garnered such a reputation, especially with its background as a hot spot for punks in the 80’s and it being the birth ground for many of the best club nights in London throughout the 90’s and into the noughties. Camden has established a great reputation over the past few decades. Venues to watch out for include Blues Kitchen, KOKO, the Roundhouse, the Lock Tavern and Dingwalls.
Shoreditch is well known for its great club nights and warren of music venues. The popularity of Shoreditch as a cultural hotspot dates back to its Victorian era entertainment venues, Shoreditch Town Hall being a music hall and later a boxing venue, bringing many of the townsfolk into the area alongside travellers who would sell and buy at the historic Spitalfields market. It goes without saying that different cultures and ideas will breed creativity, and so Shoreditch over the years has developed into the perfect home for venues such as the iconic club XOYO and the Old Blue Last. The latter is owned by VICE and often showcases the best new London talent, whilst also curating day long music showcases. Be sure not to miss Rough Trade East, the iconic record company come record store who also put on in store gigs and question and answer sessions with iconic musicians.
Hackney and Dalston
Another great North East London area, which over time has established itself as a music lovers haven through its many clubs and bars, as well as music venues. With Hackney Wicks plethora of warehouses, ripe for gigs and parties, and Dalston’s underground basement warren of hidden clubs, Hackney and Dalston provide a truly underground experience. Venues to watch out for uin Hackney and Dalston are Oslo, MOTH Club, the Shacklewell Arms, as well as the annual music festivals which take place in Victoria Park.
Kings Cross also has a music history dating back to the mid twentieth century. With Scala just down from the station placed within a converted 1920’s cinema, you’ll find a wide range of music styles and nationalities strutting their stuff in the 1100 capacity venues. The Lexington is also another great example of a pub-come-music venue, a species which London is incredibly skilled at manufacturing, and have a good ear for music to match.