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A Music Guide To... South London and Surrey

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The realms of the M25 surrounding Greater London is the underdog when it comes to live music. Being host to inexpensive and accessible gigs from the best new bands as well as frequent visits from international acts: those in the know head South.

The South London music scene has rapidly produced new acts, with grime artists like Stormzy emerging from Croydon, indie artist Jamie T putting Wimbledon on the map for reasons other than tennis, and Fat White Family initiating an unconventional rock scene from Peckham.

Here's your rundown of the best venues, record stores, clubs, and festivals. 

Venues

The Boileroom, Guildford is a destination venue for intimate gigs, having a reputation as one of the South East’s most established and respected independent venues. The 300-capacity site punches way about its weight, with now established artists such as Ed Sheeran and Bastille having performed early shows here. 

Address: 13 Stoke Fields, Guildford, GU1 4LS.

Comparable to the previous venue but with a capacity of 600, SUB89 is Reading’s best underground club and live music venue. According to the website: ‘opening in October 2009 with a live show from Chase and Status, the venue has gone from strength to strength covering all aspects of live music, comedy and club nights’. Other previous acts have included: Jake Bugg, Buzzcocks, and DJ Fresh.

Address: 110-117 Friar St, Reading, RG1 1EP.

On a larger scale, O2 Academy Brixton is an internationally renowned, award-winning concert venue. Only a short walk from Brixton underground station, the O2 Academy is a brilliant venue with an intimate vibe despite the larger scale (5000 capacity). The building has hosted a range of leading acts since becoming a venue in 1983, including The Killers, Amy Winehouse, The Clash, Lady Gaga, Coldplay, Blur; the list is endless.

Address: 211 Stockwell Rd, Brixton, London, SW9 9SL.

Record Stores

It’s no doubt most music lovers in the suburbs have encountered Banquet Records. Becoming fully independent in 2002 (formally part of the Beggars Banquet Records retail chain), this record shop located in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, stocks an extensive range of music – specialising in artists from indie, punk and emo, as well as dance, electronic, funk and hip-hop on both vinyl and cd.

Address: 52 Eden Street, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, KT1 1EE.

Further into London, The Book and Record Bar in West Norwood is a great place to browse for vinyl as well as second-hand books. The shop has an extensive collection of vinyl to browse, with genres spanning from psychedelic rock, to jazz and reggae. With a licensed bar and coffee machine on site, the converted pub also makes a great social hub.

Address: 20 Norwood High Street, London, SE27 9NR

For the quirkier, Container Records is a vinyl record shop based in a repurposed shipping container of the Pop Brixton community. Stocking both new and second-hand stock, the store boasts a collection of electronic music, as well as punk, indie, hip hop and much more. The website promises Container Records “won’t make you feel judged”.

Address: Unit S01, Pop Brixton, 49 Brixton Station Road, London, SW9 8PQ.

Clubs

Located in a former bus depot, Ministry of Sound at Elephant and Castle was once and still is, perhaps, the UK’s best-known clubbing venues. Laid out across various floors and bars, the epitome of warehouse is worth a visit for any dance music fan.

Address: 103 Gaunt St, London, SE1 6DP.

Okay, so not a club as such but New Slang, has been running for 8 years at various venues in Kingston upon Thames, by Banquet Records. The project sees bands, both debuting and headline-worthy, performing in venues including The Hippodrome, The Fighting Cocks, and The Rose Theatre on a weekly basis, followed by an indie club night until 2 am. Previous acts include Foals, Biffy Clyro, The Vaccines, and Craig David to name a few. 

Festivals

South West Four (aka SW4) is a two-day electronic dance music festival taking place at Clapham Common every August bank holiday weekend. The festival ‘teams up with a host of promoters and brands to showcase the biggest names in electronic music across multiple stages’, according to Festicket. Previous headliners include Pendulum, deadmau5, Faithless, and Skrillex.

Field Day is continually becoming one of London’s best music festivals, covering the worlds finest alternative acts. Despite usually taking place in east London’s Victoria Park, 2018 sees the festival located in Bromwell Park, Lambeth. Previous performers include Aphex Twin, James Blake, PJ Harvey and Djano Djano.

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