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Top ten London gigs in August

Check out the cream of the capital’s gigs taking place this summer

Plenty of people escape from London in August to hit music festivals around the UK. Follow them at your peril: there are plenty of great gigs in London this summer, and you might just catch some of those festival headliners a lot closer to home. Here’s the best live music this month.


Visions Festival

Critics' choice

Camera Obscura, Fat White Family, The Antlers, Toy, Jens Lekman, The Antlers, Andy Stott, Merchandise, Shamir, Hinds, Girl Band, Oscar, Jones + more.For the third consecutive year, Visions brings Hackney some musical fun this summer. The promoters have earned their reputation for booking great underground artists and this year is no different. There’s also a range of non-musical activity: markets, exhibitions, street food stalls and the like. Plus Visions has completely sold out for the last two years, so you’d be wise to book now.

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Oval Space , Bethnal Green Saturday August 6 2016
© Michael Wilson

Ben Folds

Critics' choice

More thumpingly fine and melodically sussed collegiate pop from the former head of Ben Folds Five. He's performing new songs, plus a few old hits, with classical crossover New York sextet yMusic, who Folds has also recorded his new album with.

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London Palladium , Soho Monday June 20 2016 - Tuesday June 21 2016
© Joey L

Robert Glasper Trio

Critics' choice

Like some hip fusion of J Dilla and Brad Mehldau, jazz-bending pianist Glasper is one of a kind. He brings his intricate, fractured hooks to life with a fluent technique, a peerless understanding of rhythms and plenty of compact chord sequences. With his original Blue Note trio – Vicente Archer on bass and Damion Reid on drums – Glasper performs three nights here to promote a new album called ‘Covered’ that reinterprets tunes by Radiohead, John Legend and Joni Mitchell alongside original material.

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Until Fri Aug 14

AR Rahman

Critics' choice

Hyper-influential, prolific and successful composer Rahman has spent over two decades making a name for himself as one of the greatest figures in the history of Indian film. With a master’s command of western soundtrack tropes and South Asian traditional modes, he’s successfully crossed over into pop music and performed with Michael Jackson and Mick Jagger as well as hitting big with film themes including ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. At this big, one-off London show, hear him perform his biggest hits with assistance from some big Indian playback star vocalists.

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Until Sat Aug 15
© Sibylle Zerr

Sun Ra Arkestra/Marshall Allen

Critics' choice

A cohort of afrofuturist avant-jazz genius Sun Ra for several decades, 91-year-old saxophonist Allen keeps his old friend’s space-age big band alive to the present day. The current Arkestra sound is more like a traditional large jazz ensemble, but still packs a freaky, freewheeling punch with classics such as ‘Space Is the Place’.

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14 Apr 2016

Sunn O)))

Critics' choice

Hooded dronemeisters Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson are back in town with the rest of their drone/doom crew for a set of devastatingly heavy, loud and hypnotic chords. The slow, crushing rise and fall of Sunn O)))’s rhythms has an awesome physical impact and makes for an unforgettable live presence. Show up early for an extra weird spectacle: Russian band Phurpa interpreting Tibetan throat music in spine-tingling fashion. Part of David Byrne’s Meltdown festival

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18 Aug 2015

Viet Cong

Critics' choice

Women were one of Canada’s favourite indie bands until they broke up in 2010 (violently, in the middle of a gig, while wearing Halloween costumes). When the band’s ex-guitarist died suddenly in 2012, two of his old bandmates were spurred to start a new project (‘It was like, “Shit, we’re going to die… Let’s do something before it ends.”’) Viet Cong was born out of the Black Sabbath tribute band they were playing in at the time, and the new line-up soon started playing dark, driving, fiercely noisy post-punk. Their brilliant racket (and song titles like  ‘Death’) make them worthy successors to the best of the dark British ’80s: Bauhaus, Joy Divsion, Echo And The Bunnymen and the rest. And what do four weirdos based in Calgary – Canada’s ‘cowboy city’ – name their band after? The Vietnamese guerrillas who terrorised American troops in the ’60s, obviously.

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19 Aug 2015

Atomic Bomb

Critics' choice

William Onyeabor is a lost hero of electronic music: a great synth pioneer who self-released eight obscure and excellent albums between 1978 and 1985 in south-eastern Nigeria. Since David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label tracked him down and reissued his records, he’s become a cult figure, and tonight a star cast of musicians and Onyeaborophiles – Byrne himself among them – will be performing his music live in London. This’ll be one of the year’s most joyful and funky gigs: don’t miss it. Part of David Byrne’s Meltdown festival Read more about William Onyeabor

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Until Thu Aug 20


‘Sunbather’, the 2013 album by this Frisco band, had the trendier end of the music world in paroxysms. Their unique, screeching mixture of black metal, shoegaze and post-rock should be overwhelming at this rare London show.

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Until Mon Mar 14
© Jason Evans

Four Tet

Critics' choice

Producing records for other artists as well as delivering marathon DJ sets and working on his own awesomely funky solo electronica, one-man digital groove machine Kieran Hebden is pretty much the busiest man on the London music scene. That said, he hasn’t played a headline show here for ages. Don’t miss this intimate showcase for his new album ‘Morning/Evening’.

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Until Sat Feb 13
See more London gigs in August



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