There are hundreds of brilliant and varied music venues in London. You can catch a beautiful folk gig at an established venue like Shepherd's Bush Empire one night, and descend into a dingey club to check out an obscure indie band the next. But what if you're on a tight budget? Where do you go to satisfy your apetite for live music without devastating your bank account balance in the process? We've put together a few of the capital's finest spots for taking in some live music free of charge...
Exploring Southampton for the first time, you might be forgiven for thinking the most interesting things the city has to offer are a giant Ikea, and a train station which lets you leave. But take it from a local - deep in the bowels of this bleak and gloomy coastal town, lies a music scene so bright and pure, that it’ll burn your eyebrows off if you look at it directly.
As a seaside refuge for those a little too eccentric for London, a fighting cage for Mods and Rockers and a holiday oasis for aristocrats, Brighton remains the mouthy little brother to the UK’s bigger cities. In short, it makes its presence known as loudly as possible, more often than not drowning out its siblings. The Kooks, Rizzle Kicks, British Sea Power and Fatboy Slim are Brighton-bred to name but a few. It has attracted lots of others too: Nick Cave lives here, as does The Cure’s Robert Smith. There’s just something about that carnival by the sea.
UK stronghold of drum and bass and birthplace of UK trip hop, Bristol is one of the UK's top music cities, giving us Massive Attack, Portishead, Tricky and Roni Size. It’s always had a great output, the PRS labelling it the UK’s ‘most musical city’.
It’s not so grim up north. Leeds has seen some of the best of Albion’s already considerable rock and roll output. Normally considered just behind the band-factories of Sheffield and Manchester, there’s that unmistakable sound of guitar floating behind the smokestacks.
Birmingham is the second most populous city in the UK and a melting pot at that. Rabidly eclectic perhaps comes close to describing the tidal wave of sound that Birmingham has, and continues to pump out at a shocking pace.
Finding good open mic nights can sometimes be difficult. Low turnout, unnattentive onlookers, and a lack of ambience can sometimes break the experience. So, at meetandjam.com we thought it would be helpful for you Londoners, to put together a list of the 5 open mic nights that we think could restore your faith.
The first Sunday evening of every month should be etched into the diary of any young jazz musician or fan for the months ahead. Tom Millar’s Jam Night at Green Note in Camden feels more like a gathering of young, very talented, British acquaintances in a New York basement than your average jam night. He is doing something very right.
Barfly is a raw, authentic slice of London musical life. It helps that the graffiti on the streets leading to the venue have an edge - all large eyes and ambiguous shapes - and if you're coming from Chalk Farm tube there's also a Banksy, a black and white hotel maid sneakily hiding the contents of her dustpan.