London's Best Live Music Venues For Independent Musicians

London's Best Live Music Venues For Independent Musicians

london's best live music venues

You’re an independent musician, maybe you’ve just moved to London or you live on the outskirts and play regular gigs. Maybe you’re not even living anywhere near the city but commute a few times a month for school, work, business, gigs or whatever other reason you might have. Maybe you’re not even a musician or performer but are visiting the city looking for the best places to discover new music. We’ve put together a list of our favourite venues for independent musicians.

At Reload, we’re all about empowering independent musicians and so the following list features venues that might not have a capacity of 1000+ but they are all perfect for support slots, or even headline shows or album launches (and they won’t break the bank either). Most of the venues on the list are fairly small, but all of them have a great atmosphere and are ideal for up and coming artists to learn the ins and outs of gigging in London.

 

The Camden Assembly

Formerly known as The Barfly, the camden venue has historically had huge significance for up and coming musicians, as playing The Barfly was almost seen as a rite of passage. It’s one of the must haves for anyone hoping to check out bands on the cusp of their breakthrough. There are usually DJ sets after the live performances and the bar downstairs serves decent food too. The Camden Assembly is always a good shout!

Camden Assembly

 

The Victoria

The Victoria, commonly referred to as The Vic, is a no-nonsense venue for up-and-coming bands in an old Victorian pub. After running for more than 30 years, The Vic has a reputation as one of the best live rooms in East London and with the recent relaunch of the space you can certainly expect The Vic to be not only great for audiences but emerging artists as well. A venue known for hosting album and artist launches, it’s a great space to get familiar with if you’re an emerging artist looking for somewhere to push your latest body of work.

 

Zigfrid von Underbelly

There are two sides to Zigfrid von Underbelly in Hoxton, the first part is a bar/diner - not so relevant for the independent artist, but the second side of the venue known as ‘Underbelly’ is the downstairs live music/performance space. They host a variety of acts from international artists to up and coming musicians. Those of you looking for private hire will be glad to know the live music venue can be isolated from the upstairs bar, with a separate entrance meaning your operation can run as smoothly as possible.

Underbelly Zigfrid

 

The Bedford

The Bedford has made its name amongst independent musicians as a venue that’s very much in favour of upcoming musicians. The Bedford hosts a lot of live music - which is great if you’re looking for new music and even better if you’re a musician new to the city looking to get your first gig. Many of the artists we film for Reload Sessions have featured on their live shows, which run four times a week. If you’re looking to get on stage and share your music without too much administration work or effort , the Bedford is probably your best shot on this list.

The Bedford Balham

 

Bush Hall

Bush Hall is a venue that’s quite a bit bigger than most of the ones found on this list. It’s a former dancing hall and as it’s a larger space it’s very impressive when filled up with people. Naturally it’ll be more expensive to hire for a headline event but it’s still worth checking their rates as it’s a central(ish) location and a no-frills, does-what-it-claims type of venue. If renting Bush Hall for your gig or album launch isn’t an option, playing the venue as a support act is still just as great. Due to the size there are often international and local signed and unsigned musicians playing there regularly. Expect to see artists you’re familiar with at Bush Hall.

Bush Hall

 

Upstairs @ Ronnie’s

The upstairs floor of the infamous Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club plays host to a 140 capacity bar and live music venue - which is separate to the main Jazz club. Live music can be heard every night of the week, with music ranging from acoustic jazz to indie to soul, samba and everything in between. Every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month, Ruby Sings opens shop, welcoming all musicians, vocalists and performers to join in with the jam night or watch as a spectator. Either way Ruby Sings is a lot of fun!

Upstairs @ Ronnie Scott's

 

Windmill Brixton

The Windmill is a funny one, just around the corner from a prison and down a unassuming backstreet, it’s got a mighty reputations as a champion of great music. It’s been an informal live music venue for at least a decade now and is big on sound engineering but small on fees and rates. The perfect combo. Bloc Party, Biffy Clyro, Fightstar, and Plan B have all played here and it is certainly worth checking out if you want to be amongst locals.

Windmill Brixton

 

The Jazz Cafe

The Jazz Cafe is a cool place - as the name suggests. It’s a spectacular looking venue and while it’s unlikely an emerging artist would be able to book the space for a solo project it’s one of those venues where you might have better luck with one of the events running at the cafe, jumping on the bill sharing the stage throughout the night with different acts. It’s well worth a visit even as an audience member, don’t leave London without checking out the Jazz Cafe.

The Jazz Cafe Camden

 

Ruby’s Bar and Lounge

Small, cosy and romantic. The lounge is a great place to play for an intimate crowd, launch a modest headline gig or get some honest feedback from locals. In line with all the other independent Dalston/Hackney/Stoke Newington-based music venues Ruby’s Bar and Lounge serves cocktails and craft beers. It’s a good place to learn the world of live gigging - dipping in before going all-in with some of the other venues found on this list .

 

The Dublin Castle

Not too far from Camden high street or Regent’s Park, The Dublin Castle has a deep history of hosting some of the best British emerging acts. From Madness to Arctic Monkeys, The Libertines to Pulp - most up and coming British bands have tried to make a name for themselves by playing for the crowds at The Dublin Castle - a favourite hangout spot for Amy Winehouse.

the dublin castle

 

Servant Jazz Quarters

A nice find in east London, SJQ is a boutique live music venue and cocktail bar and you can expect to find anything from  soul, blues, funk, country or jazz. The low-key venue is ideal for launching new music and cutting your teeth.

servant jazz quarters east london

 

Under The Bridge

The final venue on this list is more of an honourable mention as it’s much bigger than everything else we’ve already spoken about and realistically emerging artists won’t be able to book out the venue (unless they have a healthy budget). Under The Bridge is a purpose-built nightclub/ live music venue featuring stunning, state-of-the-art sound and lighting, designed in homage to the legendary venues in London's rock history by Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich. An independent artist’s best shot at playing this awesome venue is probably by featuring on a line-up for a show set here. Playing UTB wouldn’t be my main focus from this list, but if everything goes to plan you can expect to be invited to play as part of a line up for an event/evening of music. Either way, it’s a fantastic venue and worth going as a spectator.

Under the bridge chelsea
 
 
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