Our favourite independent venues part two

Check out our second selection of great indie venues from our staff, tutors and friends to mark Independent Venue Week...


The stages of the UK's network of small venues are key to helping emerging artists cut their musical teeth. 

With Independent Venue Week, an initiative aimed at celebrating these grassroot platforms, taking place this week, we asked our staff, friends and partners to select their favourites. Read their selections below... 

Tim Elsenburg, ICMP Teaching Fellow for Creative Musicianship and Sweet Billy Pilgrim songwriter

I’d seen a few shows at St. Pancras Old Church down in King’s Cross, but never played one until our album launch a few weeks ago. The setting is amazing; a beautiful old church, probably pre-dating the Norman conquest; small enough to be intimate (150 people max), but with acoustics that take human voices up into the realms of the heavenly. A room built to sing in! Amazing.

Find out more about the BA Creative Musicianship course at ICMP. 


Connor Burnside, drums student

KOKO in Camden has to be one of my favourite independent venues. It is a beautiful old palace in the heart of Camden which has seen the likes of Prince, the Stones, Amy Winehouse and many more. It has a lot of history, which I love.

Read our recent interview with Connor. 

Oli Tatler, Careers and Employability Manager, The Hub

The Windmill in Brixton put on good early-mid level alternative acts that larger venues wouldn’t have in an authentic and suitably gritty setting. I saw a US band called Wussy there a few years back and I probably wouldn’t have got a chance to see them otherwise in the UK.

Find out more about The Hub


Jamie Johnston, ICMP tutor, Music Business 

My favourite independent venue in recent years has been The Sebright Arms in Hackney. I’ve promoted quite a few shows in there myself as well as working with national promoters. It’s a really traditional small room gig space, the classic black box. It has a reasonably wide stage for the capacity which helps when you manage bands with two full drum kits. It is very hard to find a small space that works for a couple of my acts. The sound is always great both on and off stage and as an added bonus the food and beer in the venue is great too.

Find out more about ICMP's Music Business courses

Duke of Wolves, ICMP alumni 

Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen. It’s in an awesome location. The room has lots of fantastic equipment. Some lovely tequila options at the bar.

The sound engineer, Andrew Kark, is handsome, has a dry sense of humour, great taste in music and great hair - I mean he seriously KNOWS how to make a gig into a SHOW. It’s a place which restores faith in the term, ‘London venue’.

Read our recent interview with Duke of Wolves


Ben Jones, ICMP Bass tutor 

The Astoria on Tottenham Court Road still remains my favourite venue, and is still massively missed by most music fans. It was the perfect balance between a sweaty gig where you could mosh out to Incubus and a venue you could have a few drinks and sit down and chill with an intimate acoustic set. 

Find out more about our Bass Courses

Beckie Margaret, artist and ICMP Songwriting student 

I’d say Koko or St Pancras church. Or any church to be honest, there’s something really special in playing somewhere with character and charm! I’ve just announced a show at St Pancras old church on the 17th May so I’m really looking forward to that.

Find out more about ICMP's Songwriting Courses

Lianna Davies, ICMP bass alumna and Turbowolf bassist 

Unfortunately at lot of my favourite indie venues have been knocked down in London... I practically spent most of my teenage years between the 12 bar, Astoria, Mean Fiddler and The Underworld (I know the Underworld is still around, and it holds a big place in my heart but I don’t live in London anymore). A great indie venue (the only one that matters) in Bristol since the Croft shut down is the Exchange in Old Market. They put on some great shows, are involved massively in the alternative culture in Bristol. They have had a lot of works over the years... added a record shop to it, a great cafe with great vegan/veg food and rehearsal room underneath. If you're ever in Bristol deffo check what’s going on and pop in! 

Find out more about Turbowolf

Read the first part of our favourite independent music venues feature. 

Study music in London with ICMP

If you're interested in developing your musicianship,  learning from our regular industry guests and collaborating within the vibrant ICMP creative community, then speak to our Admissions Team. They're on hand to help you find the right course that matches your ability and aspirations. Contact the team on 020 7328 0222 or via email enquiries@icmp.ac.uk and start your music career today.

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by Jim Ottewill
February 1, 2018
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