As the city heats up, the gig calendar stays very cool indeed. Thanks to a whole range of music festivals in London and world-class acts stopping over between sets at different UK music festivals, Londoners can catch plenty of brilliant live music right on their doorsteps. Here are the best gigs in London this July.
I swear I’ve heard that name before. You probably have. J Hus is the 20-year-old Stratford rapper leading the charge for the genre-bleeding sound-melding bashment wining, crooning, irrepressible afrobeat and brutal road rap. Wait, what’s road rap? It’s the dark, nihilistic brother to grime. Check out 67, Nines and Krept & Konan. What makes him so special? His versatility and ability to knock out hit after hook-laden hit. J Hus can bounce straight from lighthearted, teasing dancehall pleas to paintstripping east London fury. Either way: one listen and you’ll be humming it all week. How has he made it big at just 20? Thanks to the success of breakout tracks ‘Dem Boy Paigon’ and ‘Lean and Bop’. Both were massive underground tracks – before he was signed to Black Butter Records – that flew furiously across the UK via WhatsApp. One famous video shows the residents of a Stoke Newington estate being serenaded by a large group of, mostly, schoolkids singing along to ‘Dem Boy Paigon’. Ahhh so he’s a YouTube phenomenon, like Justin Bieber? Ha, not quite. Has he released an album or is he going down the strictly mixtape route? Funny you should ask. His debut album ‘Common Sense’ is out now, the follow-up to hugely successful 2015 mixtape ‘The 15th Day’. So what does the album sound like? It’s the sound of clever backseat bus chat caught in a humid summer traffic jam. J Hus has the natty ability to dance between the playful bounce of West African dialect – drawing on his Gambian ba
For most of his 76 years, from his ’60s-era jazz sideman days to his current elder statesman status, Roy Ayers has dedicated himself to spreading joy. The vibraphonist and songwriter’s discography – including such beloved funk, soul and disco hits like ‘Love Will Bring Us Back Together’ and ‘Everybody Loves the Sunshine’ – feels like a decades-long effort to get his fans to smile, dance and live life to the fullest. Hell, even a break-up song like 1977’s ‘Running Away,’ coming from Ayers, feels euphoric. He’s still a powerhouse live performer, too, bursting with charisma and chops, and is blessed with levels of credibility and cool that artists a quarter his age would die for. Ayers’s long-running residencies at London venues like Ronnie Scott’s and The Jazz Cafe have made him a London institution since the ’80s, but what’s remarkable is that his mystically soulful approach to songwriting has seen him remain a pivotal figure in modern music. He’s a deep influence on everyone from Pharrell to A Tribe Called Quest to the whole neo-soul movement. This summer, Ayers headlines two of the coolest festival bills on the planet: Soundwave Festival in Tisno, Croatia, and Sunfall in London, where he sits above acolytes as varied as Gilles Peterson, Horse Meat Disco, Theo Parrish and more. Time Out recently caught him at an intimate rooftop gig in Brooklyn, and the man’s still got it: his vibes work is as fluid and dynamic as ever, and his voice, imbued with a just a hint of grit, s
We've all heard about the revolutionary folk and rocks anthems that soundtracked the 'Summer of Love' in 1967. Well, set that Bob Dylan masterpiece aside: Soul II Soul’s Jazzy B and Classic Album Sundays’ Colleen Murphy have pooled their vast knowledge of alternative badass songs to pick the top 5 revolutionary soul tracks from black musicians who overcame adversity to set their own sonic agenda.
Sorry Destiny’s Child, but TLC were the queens of ’90s R&B. Cool and in control, Tionne ‘T-Boz’ Watkins, Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes and Rozonda ‘Chilli’ Thomas set the pop-R&B agenda for nearly a decade. Since Left Eye passed away in 2002, T-Boz and Chilli have kept a relatively low profile, but return with their first album in 15 years, which, they say, will also be their last.
Who are they? Only the most exciting new band in the whole of London. If you’ve been pining for something truly unpredictable and set apart from the rest of the city’s musical output right now, then let HMLTD sate you. What makes them so different? First of all, just take a look. There’s a kind of Ziggy Stardust elegance that also borrows from the sartorial height of punk. Then there’s the sounds, which take the whole boundaryless idea of musical consumption that everyone can thank the internet for and pushes it to extremes. ‘To the Door’, for example, is a racing spaghetti western score that abruptly twists into glitchy R&B territory and back again. Sounds interesting... Interesting is definitely one word for HMLTD (who were previously known as Happy Meal Ltd). Debut single ‘Stained’ is theatrical, discordant and menacing, while its video goes from scenes of masked figures and slopping fluids to a party that the cast of ‘Skins’ would consider too much. Are their gigs as depraved as that sounds? Not quite, but they’re definitely unlike anything you’ve seen before. The band say they want to provoke people into having a reaction – either positive or negative – and their tactics vary from night to night. Basically, if you want to feel like you’re in some amalgam of the Blitz Club in 1980 and an immersive, interactive piece of performance art in 2017, get yourself down to a HMLTD gig. If you stand near the front, be warned: you might end up with lead singer Henry Spychalski wr
Enfolded within Camden Market, this building may have been a horse hospital at one point in its lifetime, but it certainly ain't an animal refuge any more. The cobbled floors remain, as do the stables, but they've been spruced up and turned into booths. The roof terrace has also been revamped with bright colours and twee bunting. The main space is usually decked with artwork on the walls and also has a stage for live bands. There's a cabaret room on the other side of the venue and, of course, a bar serving up the usual tipples. Club nights here usually feature indie-electro, synth-pop, R&B, hip hop and funk.
Venue says: “From Drizzy to Dizzee, we play you the best in hip hop, trap and grime every Wednesday at Proud Camden.”