The Guiding Online Voices to Low Cost Gigs
By Kath Butler (follow Kath on Twitter: @k_butler92)
London’s thriving live music scene is no secret and finding shows that don’t break the bank isn’t either, but it does sometimes take a little sorting through the headline grabbing and often bank breaking shows. There are some venues that are definitive go to’s when looking to catch a free or cheap live show – something you can read about here – but for those new to the big smoke and new on the beer soaked streets of live music there is the internet.
However, the internet’s infinite number of domains too represents a bottomless pit of work separating the good, the bad and the just plain irrelevant. Hence, the need for a post on a blog guiding freshman London gig-goers, on the best blogs to read when it comes to finding cheap live shows. World Wide Web redundancies abound, but hopefully it’s useful.
London In Stereo | Majority of Music Genres
This is the essential listings site for all gigs, all venues, all prices, in all of London (aside from the obscure open mic nights). By simply clicking on the tab that reads “full listings” the page pulls up a day by day list of almost every gig happening in London on that night that has thus far been announced. Even more appropriately, they list the ticket costs first, directly after the band name – so to find yourself a gratis show just scan the list for a show that reads “FREE”. If the self-explanatory description doesn’t tell you as much, the sites interface is extremely straightforward and easy to use. If however, cruising the interwebs isn’t really your thing (not sure how you ended up here then) they print a pocket-sized guide which is distributed for free at the majority of London live music venues. Lists aside, the site has a “Featured Shows” section where you can read up on the musical prowess of the artists behind future shows, whilst simultaneously filling your online content quota for the day.
London Ears | Majority of Music Genres
Whilst not as extensive as London in Stereo, London Ears has the features to make up for it. The site has around 20 gigs listed per night with handy direct ticket sale links and prices to aid you even further on your way to catching an epic (cheap) gig. They have a blog that includes artists write ups and reviews and a list of London record shops to tickle the fancy of those who love a good vinyl in addition to a good show, or for those that have some time to kill before the show and want to get those toes in to the tapping state of mind. If record stores are not your thing and you prefer to kick it digital, they have an onsite playlist featuring the artists of their listed shows. It also has a festival section for the very distant future summer that may or may not be. The site is updated weekly and also relatively easy to use, the only accessibility fault being the lack of clarity in their choice of typography.
DIY | Indie/Alternative
Whilst not strictly an online blog, DIY is a lifestyle magazine that tends to dip its toes into the London music scene. The trick with this one is to look under the “Neu” section, where the focus is placed on up and coming London based musicians, which DIY often features in their low cost if not free live showcases. They tend to represent an array of colourful characters that go on to become London scene mainstays; recent names include Diet Cig and Kid Wave. Keeping to the pro bono ethos the physical publication is distributed monthly and can be picked up in all corners of the capital centre for, that’s right, free. The site is streamlined, professional and easy to use and read.
Resident Advisor | All types of dance music
Somewhat of a stalwart in the online live music game, Resident Advisor focusses mostly on live dance music events, parties and DJ’s. The trouble is you really have to sift through the listings to find free or cheap events, as it is expansive. On the plus side, it features some amazing venues that include Shoreditch’s Village Underground, Peckham’s Bussey Building and the legendary Fabric, so for the sake of the pure enjoyment that frequenting one of these fine institutions will bring you, I’d say the search is worth it. It’s a relative treasure trove of information too if you’re looking for conversational topics to drop when rubbing shoulders with the too-cool-for-school patrons that attend these types of events, you can find out info about promoters, past events and artists.
Great For: Its established and well known site with direct ticket links
Tip: Set aside some time to scan the listings for free/cheap events as they feature loads of events
Website | Facebook | Twitter
Line of Best Fit | Undiscovered New Music of all Genres
Best fit is not only a tried and trusted method to finding epic free shows, it’s a pure joy to click through to too. The content mostly focusses on new music and artists, so if all you’re looking for is a cheap gig, I’d advise clicking through to the “News” section which features recently announced show dates. Being that the artists mostly featured are up and coming, the shows are generally very little on the cost front or nothing at all. If you’re looking for a little online glory to spruce up your hour long overground commute, look no further. Best fit features all kinds of quirky and unique content. One look at their current homepage has Flo Morrissey covering Tame Impala at End of the Road festival and a backstage interview with Oh Wonder at the Village Underground, so nothing if not different and in the increasingly gentrified London soundscape that can’t be a bad thing.
The Hyve | Indie/Alternative new music
The Hyve is not strictly a blog, taking the form of a YouTube channel showcasing new artists on the London scene. However, they often couple up with promoters to put on live showcases, such as the ongoing series they have on at The Barfly in Camden, which showcased bands like Lisbon, Get Inuit and Glass Caves. If it’s not clear by now I’ll spell it out for you; in antithesis to its sartorial counterpart – new equals cheap in the live music game. Additionally, you can indulge in some visual treats in the form of cool music videos as well as brush up on the actual audio servings of the bands you may or may not see.
If the “new = cheap” mantra is the one bit of wisdom I leave you with in online scoping for reasonably priced shows in London then my job here is done. Best get to surfing those HTML waves.