Among the hipsters and chicken shops, east London is home to some great gig venues. Whether you're a newbie to the area or simply up for something different, check out our round-up the six best east London live music spots.
Six great gig venues in east London
Since its launch in May this basement den has established itself as the first port for those who are big on the blogs. Booking uber-cool electronicists, scuzzy lo-fi bands and bedroom producers finally finding their way out the house, Birthdays swerve is defiantly left-of-centre and an excellent addition to the Dalston strip.
The one for… beats and bleeps.
This smart little venue, underneath the pleasant Three Crowns pub, used to be known as The Drop. It was relaunched by the team behind the Lock Tavern and The Shacklewell Arms in March 2012 as a forward-thinking electronic music venue with a mix of club nights and live shows from innovators including Daniel Avery, Four Tet and NZCA/Lines. And - bonus - it's not a shithole. Gigs are cheap, or sometimes free.
While Birthdays is shiny and new, the Shacklewell is a gloriously scruffy alternative. It may lack Dyson Airblades in the loo, but this boozer-cum-venue has a relaxed vibe with a booking policy to die for. Everyone from The Horrors to Skrillex has played there, and the annual Nail The Cross two-dayer is a cauldron for acts on the grow.
You’ll see a fair few beards and top-knots at Power Lunches, but if you can’t do the Hackney wildman look fear not: this black-and-white bar/cafe offers a warm welcome, a bite to eat and a packed gig calendar to anyone with a penchant for the heavy and psychedelic.
There are two popular East End Victorias, so make sure you stumble into the Dalston one (as opposed to Mile End). At this one you can sidle up for pool alongside old men tucking into a fish and Jollof rice supper, then, through the door at the back, catch trendy punk and indie acts.
Alias, 'Hipsteria’, but don’t let that put you off. This venue, formerly The Junction Room, reopened in January as a comfy-but-elegant live music bar. Most customers descend to the recently opened ‘dungeon’ for appealingly sleazy club nights, but stick around upstairs for cutting-edge bands and tasty pizza.
Thousand Island is a new self-contained music venue and late, late night club, in what used to be Upstairs at The Garage on Highbury Corner. Following a recent refurb, The Garage – a live music venue that’s been hosting major gigs since 1993 – is now hosting up-and-coming artists, as well as club nights in its intimate, upstairs space (with added mirrorballs on the ceiling). And it's within easy reach of Highbury & Islington station for when you need to stagger home on the night tube.