According to the people behind the excellent Bandstand Busking venture, when they originally started looking for bandstands in London to put on free gigs they found about 38 (they did have a map, but “lost it along the way”). This Saturday they’ll be putting on the latest of their intimate shows, as Edinburgh’s Young Fathers roll up to Northampton Square.
It’s a shame bandstands aren’t used more often. Since it started in 2008, Bandstand Busking has convinced some pretty well-known acts to outdoor shindigs, and by all accounts Wild Beasts, Sky Larkin, Emmy the Great and the Twilight Sad, plus many more, have put on some fine performances, mainly at the bandstands at Arnold Circus and Northampton Square.
The lofty Arnold Circus bandstand is an interesting one — it was built as part of the Boundary Estate, erected in order to rid London of its notorious Old Nichol slum and according to Bandstand Busking’s Thomas Muirhead it has incredible acoustics where you can hear what’s played in the bandstand from the road way below.
The three bandstands in Hyde Park are in picturesque surroundings, including two by the lakes, but as they are in a Royal Park they’re harder for organizers to get access to. There are other bandstands in Hampstead Heath and Springfield Park, and Southwark Park and Battersea Park south of the river.
There’s also a fine line between shelter and bandstand. Lincoln’s Inn Fields and Victoria Park have bandstands that are somewhere between the two.
Saturday’s show featuring Young Fathers should be a fine one, if they manage to dodge the showers we’re seemingly threatened with this weekend. Scottish hip hop is an undeveloped genre and their debut album, Dead, was released to positive reviews earlier this year. Here’s Get Up from that record.
Bandstand Busking doesn’t tend to announce its shows months in advance so if the idea of outdoor sounds and perhaps a cheeky picnic appeal, you may want to sign up to the Twitter feed or the mailing list at the Bandstand Busking website. At the latter, you’ll also find a fine list of previous bandstand shows featuring some excellent videos and very happy punters.
The more people show up, the more Bandstand Busking will be able to put on shows of this unique variety, to give these lovely old bandstands a new lease of life.
Young Fathers play at the Northampton Square bandstand in Clerkenwell at 1.30pm on Saturday 12 July, and ‘entry’ is free.