The View From… North East London

In this scathing View From feature, fabulously-be-named North-East Londoner Massimo Zepettelli bemoans the local new music vacuum, and suggests how things could (and should) change for the better…

London. One of the most thriving cities in the world for music and all kinds of culture. Many (rightly) presume there to be somewhere to enjoy live music in all geographical corners of the capital.

Sorry, not North East London: Seven Sisters, Tottenham Hale, Blackhorse Road, Walthamstow, Leytonstone, Snaresbrook and South Woodford. Nothing is near any of these stations.

What a shame that no one has realised this gap in the market. I will focus on Walthamstow because this is where I live: we have no cinemas, no comedy clubs, no theatres, and no music venues.

The closest (and only) venue that I know of in the areas I mentioned above is The Standard on Blackhorse Road, embarrassingly home to the longest line-up of cover bands.

It’s like a needle in a haystack trying to find a band who writes their own songs in the listings. It’s actually a really nice venue, quite big and literally opposite the station, so it’s ideal for travellers… IF a good band were to be booked.

So where is the scene? I am going to blame awful promoters and a lack of faith. Bollocks that the market isn’t there – it’s London in Zone 3 for goodness sake. It’s only 30 minutes bus journey away from two of the trendiest parts of East London – Islington and Hackney.

No one wants to risk parting with their money in our area. But I promise you, if enough promoters and music lovers have faith and put on a couple of good acts (presuming you have the contacts for good/up-and-coming/semi-established) bands then The Standard and a new venue in Walthamstow will thrive.

The rent is nothing compared to Islington and Shoreditch either and the Olympics is coming up in neighbouring area, Stratford. There’s every reason to set-up shop now.

Let’s compare to the other end of the Victoria Line: Brixton. The Brixton Windmill is a great venue which has put on loads of great artists in the past who are now massive: Maximo Park, Noah & The Whale, The Cribs and get Cape Wear Cape Fly to name a few.

However, the venue is a 15 minute walk up much more ghetto streets than the 15 second walk in Blackhorse Road; I reckon it’s impossible to be mugged in such a short distance.

What Walthamstow and North East London needs is a nice, small venue with character like The Lumninaire which will attract semi-established acts, secret shows for bigger artists and allow showcases for those starting out.

Follow Atlum Schema/Andy Mort’s drive to revive the Coventry scene. If it can be done in Coventry, it surely can be done in London.

Massimo Zeppetelli writes a blog titled ‘My Fave Bit’, where he shares his love for that great bit of a song which you can’t help rewinding and listening to over and over again. It’s a genuinely excellent read.

7 thoughts on “The View From… North East London

  1. Seeing as I’m from the same area, I’ve also regularly pondered this. I’ve even wondered whether Boy Kill Boy played any gigs in the area seeing as they were from Leytonstone but I suspect they just played the regular London venues.

    I have a feeling that Stratford might end up having a proper venue in the next few years, which would be good. In the meantime, maybe you should start putting bands on at The Standard!


  2. To be fair to The Standard it does have local bands on every thursday night
    Its threatened with closure unfortunately if the housing market picks up enough for the developers who have it on a short term lease to be bothered to knock it down and build flats in its place.

    It would be a huge shame because as you say its 20 minutes from central London and a 30 second walk from the tube. Perfect local venue. The people who run The Standard say they struggle to convince bands to come out “all the way” to E17 (or rather they struggle to convince their managers).

    I keep thinking about trying to setup a night at the Standard, but with no experience it scares the bejezuz out of me. Maybe I should try a one off and see how it goes.

  3. Thanks for your comments!

    Perhaps you should both team up and put a one-off night on and see what happens? It seems like there’s a genuine desire for music there! The location couldn’t be better: to be 20 mins from central London is the envy of the European music world.

    Good luck!


  4. HI – SO sad So sad, no good live music gigs in Walthamstow, South Woodford, Wanstead, Leytonstone, eeeeeek ? WHY is this? I am a very enthusiastic appreciative lover of good music, and have noticed either the good music is going on ‘underground’,unannounced, in secret in the northeast London area, or ..what?
    Is it possibly a Cultural thing?methinks this may be it. As I am an objective observer of the environmental traffic, and notice that most of the business owners/landlords/commuters are predominantly from other parts of Europe?,and so having a local gig, would need to be in some other european theme to attract the locals? .I am not sure if this comment will get sent, let alone read by anyone.
    The only live gig pub I know of around these parts is the Plough Inn, altho’ I have never been that attracted to it, as it seems to be chockers with blokes mostly, ..or empty.
    hope to hear back. Oh dear, dont really want to be shlepping out to Hackney and Islington late at nite anymore, but maybe ..have to

  5. Maybe a Euro-themed gig night somewhere might work? Something along the lines of the Ja Ja Ja Scandinavian event in London or Eurocultured here in Manchester?

    Maybe it’s your calling! “Book them and they will come…”

  6. This is such an interesting post. I’ve just started playing London shows noticing a pattern of Camden, Islington etc… with promoters. If someone promoted a show with a semi-established band people still (probably) wouldn’t be interested as the area/venue has earnt a stigma with its cover bands. I think you are bang on about the idea of a Luminaire type venue, it’d need to be a competing place to the Black Horse in order to gain a promotion angle of ‘We don’t put on cover bands like they do’. Wish I had the funds to help!

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