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Rock 'n' roll...a moveable feast - Nemesis To Go [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Nemesis To Go

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Rock 'n' roll...a moveable feast [Feb. 11th, 2013|08:57 pm]
Nemesis To Go
And talking of things closing down, as we were...it's last orders at the Bull & Gate, at least as a rock 'n' roll watering hole.

I'm sure this news will trigger the usual outbreak of woe over the alleged decline of the London live music circuit, which kicks off every time somewhere closes. But, in fact, I suspect the number of venues in London has remained pretty consistent over the years.

Sure, quite a few London venues have closed down - the Astoria, the Marquee (which has closed and re-opened many times, and still allegedly exists, although in a rather vague form), and now the Bull & Gate, to name but three.

But alongside those closures, quite a few new venues have opened up - the Troxy, XOYO, Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, to name three rough equivalents.

We also now have the Lexington, the Buffalo Bar, Power Lunches, the Underbelly - all venues that didn't exist just a few years ago. I could extend that list quite a bit if I sat here and thought about it (and if I could be arsed to do any more links).

I suspect that if you analysed venue closures/openings over X period of time, you'd probably find that the net quantity of venues in London remained roughly the same. They just shift around a bit, from area to area. There never seems to be a shortage of places for bands to play. Bands may find it difficult to get gigs for many reasons, but I've never heard "There aren't enough venues in London!" advanced as one of them.

It's interesting that when The Gaff on Holloway Road abruptly closed down (it's a Costa coffee bar now) all the gigs that had been booked in to the venue were instantly transferred to The Dome at Tuffnell Park - which had plenty of vacant space in its booking calendar. That suggests that instead of not enough venues, we might have too many. After all, if the Dome was standing (mostly) empty, that argues for an over-supply of venue capacity, not a shortage.

And yet the prophets of doom still predict the end of everything every time somewhere shuts up shop. Personally, whenever people complain about the live music circuit going downhill because all the venues are supposedly closing down, I always suspect what they really mean is merely "All the familiar venues that I know about are closing down."

Watch out for that in this case. I'm sure we'll see a bit of it.

I suppose the Bull & Gate's transformation into a gastropub illustrates the wider transformation of Kentish Town these days. It's no longer the cheap 'n' tatty place it was when the Bull & Gate first started putting bands on in the back room. These days, it's all going gentrified, and rock 'n' roll has to move on.

'Twas ever thus, of course. The main reason there are currently lots of venues in east London is because the area was recently one of London's down-at-heel zones, where rents were cheap, the council was keen for anyone to set up in business there, and all manner of basements and back rooms were just waiting for someone to install a PA and start up a gig venue. That's changing now - the area is now quite upmarket, and the venues have started migrating up the road to Dalston, which is still scruffy 'n' cheap. But after Dalston, where then?

Vice magazine reckons Peckham will be where it's at.

Hmm. South of the river, eh? We'll see!

[User Picture]From: girfan
2013-02-11 09:24 pm (UTC)
What do you know about 93 Feet East?
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[User Picture]From: nemesis_to_go
2013-02-11 09:50 pm (UTC)
Got closed down because the polis discovered the manager was, if not actively involved in the supply of drugs on the premises, at least allowing it to happen...


That piece says the venue is open for business again - as indeed it was, immediately after the raid. But it closed down a bit later.

It occurs to me that this would be a good opportunity for a new management to step in and start it up again - clean hands, and all that. After all, they've got to do something with it. A multi-room venue in such a prime location must be losing somebody huge amounts of cash for as long as it stays closed...

At least I can stop feeling guilty about not sending the venue my Tying Tiffany photos. They wanted some for the website, but I never quite got around to sending them. I suppose I'm off the hook with that now. Well, they do say it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good!

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[User Picture]From: girfan
2013-02-11 09:59 pm (UTC)
I'm asking since this is where Lene Lovich is supposed to play next month. I'm more than likely going to go to the Exeter gig since it's a bit closer.
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[User Picture]From: nemesis_to_go
2013-02-11 10:14 pm (UTC)
She's at Cargo, and comes highly recommended by me.
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[User Picture]From: dj_alexander
2013-02-12 01:17 am (UTC)
I don't know what the fuss is about Peckham. The always overlooked New Cross Inn does a fine job of keeping live alternative music alive in South London with several gigs a week. And let's face it, New Cross is never going to be gentrified or they would have done it by now.

Btw I noticed Londongigs is missing the TV Smith listing for the 23rd March.

Edited at 2013-02-12 01:25 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: djpsyche
2013-02-12 01:24 pm (UTC)
The Bull and Gate was just the right size for an 80-150 person gig. And the right price too.
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[User Picture]From: fenbane
2013-02-12 03:09 pm (UTC)
Dalston isn't cheap anymore - I got priced out of living there (and Stokey) and now kick myself for being away from so many gigs. Tooting is getting trendy too with places like the Tram and Social. Then again I did live above the music venue for a year before my exile down south!

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[User Picture]From: nemesis_to_go
2013-02-12 03:20 pm (UTC)
I live in Hounslow - which at this rate will be the last ungentrified part of London (but without the saving grace of rock 'n' roll).

It's strange, I live about 100 yards away from the border with the Royal Borough Of Richmond Upon Thames, and it's like east and west Berlin. On the Richmond side everything is - well, rich. On the 'orrible 'ounslow side, it's all concrete gardens and flytipping.

I've been waiting for the Richmond effect to spill over into Hounslow, but if anything I think the Hounslow effect is spilling over into Richmond...
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[User Picture]From: fenbane
2013-02-12 03:34 pm (UTC)
That's handy to know. Richmond would be an ideal place to live if my bf does his PhD at Kingston but way too expensive. Tooting may not be a second Stokey for long.
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[User Picture]From: nemesis_to_go
2013-02-12 05:08 pm (UTC)
I've been waiting for the local estate agents to start describing my bit of Hounslow as 'Richmond borders'. Then I'll know that gentrification has arrived. Hasn't happened yet, though...

A while back a new block of flats more or less in the middle of Hounslow was marketed as being in 'London Heathrow Quarter' which gave me an incredulous laugh. Fortunately, that name never caught on!
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[User Picture]From: glamgothruthy
2013-02-12 07:12 pm (UTC)
well i for one love the Troxy and XOYO, and the kinda music they play down there. Viva la difference. (and i also love the Dome. The thing is, things can't last forever
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