Kentishtuner: Why NW5’s Music Scene is still healthy

In which our music columnist Conor Fisk argues that Kentish Town’s music scene is nicely low-key, and all the better …


In which our music columnist Conor Fisk argues that Kentish Town’s music scene is nicely low-key, and all the better for it; and newcomer Hannah Watson discovers the joys of a certain late-night dive bar on her doorstep…

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Conor low-res

Yes, the news of the Bull & Gate’s sale is a shock to everyone but I’d still argue that NW5 is doing everything right when it comes to venues for live music.

Being away from Camden proper is a Good Thing for the scene, which is inevitably more laidback – and quirkier (for proof, look no further than the notorious monthly parties at alon-cum-gallery-cum-venue, Flaxon Ptootch).


But with one legendary small venue soon to be out of the equation, where else can you head to discover the best sounds? Well, Aces And Eights (see panel below) is a real find, especially its live Club Stuntfox sessions on Thursdays and Sunday afternoons; whilst the Torriano’s basement room is also a good bet for acoustic artists on a Sunday night. In central K-Town, try The Oxford for a touch of beard-stroking contemporary jazz upstairs on a Monday, or Map Cafe most Thursdays and Fridays; for something less cerebral, head to the Fiddler’s Elbow, the under-rated Victorian venue that boasts eclectic line-ups (shame there’s a cover charge most nights, especially for us students).

Do not let this close: The Forum
Do not let this close: The Forum
And whilst in 2013 we might not witness again a throwback to the heady days of The Flowerpot, rumours currently abound that the lower Kentish Town Road site, most recently known as Heroes, is being revived at some point this year, hopefully sans the trouble (naked dancing on a pillar box, anyone?) That is, unless the developers get there first.

My personal favourite? The Abbey, which is continuing its ace music policy with – so I hear – new excursions into bluegrass, country, rockabilly and folk. Plus there’s a brand new weekly Blues Jam Session every Sunday evening, centred around their recently-acquired honkytonk piano. Mine’s a Four Roses.

And lest we forget, we are blessed enough to have one of London’s best mid-sized venues perched atop our little kingdom: The Forum. Its increasingly varied programme – take Bobby Womack’s residency, for example, or the surprise appearance by Rihanna last year – is putting it right back on the map for my generation. But in the meantime, let’s all support Club Fandango and head to the Bull & Gate – we have three months left to show them we care. Conor Fisk

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acesSince I moved late last year from Sunderland to NW5, Aces & Eights has stood on the corner of my road, luring me in like a beacon. After last orders at the Junction Tavern on a particularly dismal night, my friends and I wanted to stumble somewhere as close as possible – so we made a dash for it.

There was a buzzing atmosphere as we stepped inside its dimly lit dive-bar interior, its dance floor rammed with a friendly crowd. Because of the name, I was half expecting to hear Guns N’ Roses being blasted by the DJ, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear some proper old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll music.

And the place clearly has a loyal fan base. A hipster couple in 1950’s were rocking out on what is clearly their turf. And although I put in a few requests (never played, Mr DJ!) and was soon jiving away, I was still surprised so many of the tracks received mass applause from the appreciative crowd.

Aces_03For anyone who needed to line their stomachs in between drinks, the small pizza kitchen was still open late and giant, thin, crispy pizzas kept whizzing past me as I waited for drinks. And the prices? Not bad either: two vodkas with mixers came to around £7 with cocktails and an eclectic whiskey list on offer as well, all dished up by smiling staff.

By the early hours I was hot and sweaty, a sure sign of a great night’s dancing, although I’m sure the rockabilly couple were still hitting it hard as we staggered home. Hannah Watson

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A version of Conor’s article appears in our first ever print edition. Find a FREE copy at the 40 stockists listed here.


  • Show Comments

  • leslieworksLeslie

    All good. After The Abbey, Annie’s Bar aint bad for a late night boogie!

  • Tim

    Agree! But have to point that “Being away from Camden proper…” – Kentish Town is is Camden. Please don’t Confuse Camden with Camden Town, and then please don’t assume Camden Town is just the bit between the Tube and Chalk Farm Tube!