Britain may be a modestly sized Island, but it has never been too small to influence popular music around the world. From the Rolling Stones to Oasis to The Beatles and so many more infamous English bands, England is not short on producing musical greats.

And many of these famous bands performed in London pubs and bars before they hit the big time and bigger stages. Aspiring musicians continue to flock to London, and you can see them play for just a few quid and these great venues.

The Dublin Castle, Camden

Back in the 1970’s this was the place to be. In the 80’s it was the heart of Camden and the rockabilly scene. And then in the 90s, it was a safe place for indie kids – avenue that so many bands have played at on their way to the big stage. Stumble along during the annual Camden Crawl  and you’ll probably see someone great perform, perhaps before you even know they are going to be great. You’re guaranteed a good time and at a great price.

The Windmill, Brixton

Blessed with a ramshackle bohemian atmosphere, the Windmill is in an indie outpost in an area dominated by more commercial enterprises. The beer is cheap, and the bands are plentiful which makes it a great place to catch unusual acts and buzz bands on their way up. Bloc Party, Guillemots and the Crimea have all played storming gigs there in the recent past while Cardiff twee pop Los Campesinos are coming up in April.

Rich Mix, Shoreditch

Rich Mix is a local cinema and cultural space for all, complete with a bar, cafe and art gallery. Catch a film, then stick around for musical acts ranging from Nessi Gomes, a singer-songwriter who blends traditional Portuguese Fado music with a contemporary British sound, to up-and-coming jazz trio Mammal Hands.

Rich Mix, Shoreditch

The Half Moon, Putney

This was one of the first places you could have seen the Rolling Stones, U2’s first sold -out act, Kate Bush’s first act and residences from Elvis Costello and Steve Marriott. They still have a life performance nightly with bands ranging from unknown bands to the greats like soul man Geno Washington. They not only have live music, but also a great jukebox with tons of CD’s and more

The Black Sheep, Croydon

Loaded down with pubs and some of the country’s worst architecture, Croydon is an unlikely heart of civilization, but the Black Sheep is a great place to check out among all the ugliness. It has all kinds of performers and also provides a home for dubstep lovers, techno enthusiast, drum and bass kids, break-dancers and live hip-hop. It’s a member’s club, but free to join with nothing more than a photo ID. Most nights are free before 9pm and there’s a lively open mic night every third Sunday.


If you are looking for a weekend off, these are the places to leave your typical clubbing blueprint at home.