Friday, 24 August 2007

Top 5 Gig Venues

Haven't done one of these for a while so having been to a cracking gig last night thought I'd do a nice easy one to get things going again.

1. Brighton Concorde 2

2. The Garage

3. Brixton Academy

4. (Old) Mean Fiddler

5. The 100 Club

Despite being some 60 miles away from home the Concorde 2 is remarkably easy to get to. Door to door in a little over an hour and I can park within 50 yards of the door. A converted sea front shelter within spitting distance of the beach, the C2 is a nice blend of historic building and contemporary refurbishments. The pillars down the right hand side can obstruct your view a bit if you end up on that side, but also give you a route to get nearer the front. Been twice so far this year, last nights corking "secret" show from Bloc Party and a simply dazzling performance from Breaks in June.

There's something about The Garage that has usually led me to consume vast amounts of alcohol whenever I go. The down side of this is I'm then really keen to stay for the after-gig disco and forget the consequences of finding yourself in North London at 2 in the morning trying to get back to the suburbs. The stage gives you a bizarre "widescreen" view of the bands due to the low dance floor ceiling, but easy access to the front can be gained thanks to the "toilet route" that runs to the front left of the stage. Great gigs I have seen hear include The Dirtbombs, The Soledad Brothers, Forward Russia (possibly hottest gig I ever been at) and the stunning Lightning Bolt show played from the middle of the dance floor instead of the stage.

Despite being in Brixton, the Academy is still a really good venue. Again there's good access down the front if you feel the need and the crowd barriers do an excellent job of ensuring when you do get down there you don't die! Seen a lot of great gigs here the ones that spring to mind are Faith No More in 1990, The White Stripes in 2003, the Pixies in 2004 and back to back gigs from Bloc Party and the Kaiser Chiefs in 2005. One positive about Brixton is my recent discovery (thanks Al!) of Speedy Noodles, a grotty little noodle bar down the Brixton Road, cheap food before or after the gig and they sell beer too. If you can cope with the occasional nutter passing by this is worth a visit.

The old Mean Fiddler was the one in Harlesden (another lovely part of London and probably the only place I have seen a MacDonald's with protective screening between customers and employees!), another bugger to get to unless you drove but well worth the trip. It had a very odd layout with a very small dance floor area but lots of bar space, and lots of odd spots where you could get a good view of the stage. They also served a really good pint of Guiness and I was very sad when they closed down and moved to the current Charing Cross Road location (which, I have just found out, is about to become the Astoria 2 again).

Final entry but one that could climb fast is the historic 100 club. I've only been to one gig here, a top night which saw The Futureheads supporting The Kills, but if I get along to a few more it could definitely claim the top spot. It's a venue steeped in history and there's something about the red walls, pictures of Jazz greats and the huge 100 Club letters that send a tingle down your spine. It has the feel of a proper working man's club and does not appear to have changed a great deal from it's 50's and 60's heyday. The other big selling point for me was they have a proper bar with a good selection of beer (including real ale's) and the staff were really friendly and helpful.

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