Independent Venue Week is a celebration of small music venues around the country that are often kept alive solely by the passion of the staff and management behind them. Despite the huge interest in music in London, not even we're safe from small venues going belly up as we've seen with the recent demise of Madame Jojo's, the 12 Bar Club and the Buffalo Bar. After a recent stroll down the Gray's Inn Road a while back, Londonist got the fear that even the venerable old Water Rats had gone belly-up with step ladders and confusing pieces of wood scattered about the interior, but thankfully if was just a refit.
And we know that because the Water Rats is one of the venues involved in Independent Venue Week, along with 22 other small London venues taking part in a week of gigs you probably wouldn't get to see in any of the other 51 weeks of the year. From 26 January to 1 February, a group of bigger names than usually play small venues are coming together to give the little guys a break.
Other London venues include Birthdays, the 100 Club, Dingwalls, the Sebright Arms and the New Cross Inn — the full list is available at the event's official venues page.
As for who you get to see this week, the bigger names have sold out, almost instantly, as you might expect. Yes, you might well wonder what use it is us telling you that but consider that the event has therefore done part of its job as a financial boost for small venues, and that London's general level of happiness will increase as people bang heads on ceilings to Palma Violets, Frank Turner, Julian Cope and The Fat White Family. Fans of the Yardbirds will immediately want to head to the 100 Club site for tickets to their show on Friday 30 January.
And there are still plenty of other shows you can get along to, to help show your support for the small venue circuit. The Half Moon in Putney has a whole load of gigs on during the week, from Edinburgh's indie-rockers BWANi on Tuesday 27 January to cult Liverpool band Clinic on Saturday 31 January — surprising that one's not sold out yet. And given you've nothing else to do on Friday 30 January, how about a bit of veteran London punk in the form of the Bermondsey Joyriders? Here's their track Johnny Thunders Was a Human Being.
Another venue going at it full pelt is the Shacklewell Arms. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (27, 28 and 29 January) with a fine trio of shows from These Ghosts, Meat Wave and Paperhead. We’ve just heard a track by Meat Wave for the first time; and if this doesn’t have you immediately scrabbling for tickets at Wednesday’s show there’s something seriously wrong with you.
Another highlight is the show at the Notting Hill Arts Club on Sunday (1 February). Six acts will take the stage that evening and you can read all about those at the site of the people putting on this show: Communion Music. Of those on the bill we find Sussex singer-songwriter Samuel Ford the most intriguing, and you can check him out yourself below.
That’s just a small selection of what Independent Venue Week has to offer. What’s more, some of these shows are free (including Meat Wave!) as the bands do it for the love of small venues and the venues do it for the hope of shifting pint after pint of premium strength lager.
There’s almost certainly one of these small venues near you and believe us you’ll miss it when it’s gone, so get yourself involved in one of these shows and pat yourself on the back in the process.
Independent Venue Week is taking place this week at various venues across London, with ticket prices ranging from free to about £10. Full details of all shows are available at the event website.