Giggin’ and lovin’
By Kath Butler (follow Kath on Twitter: @k_butler92)
Now that the dark pit that is January has finally surpassed us weary Londoners, making us marginally less miserable than a month ago, we can get down to the important business of 2016. This includes spending the year’s first paycheck making up for the many pints missed out in the depths of last month’s teetotalism and probably having to forgo the reliably exorbitant zone 1-3 travel pass, #priorities. Luckily, websites such as this exist and the money saving experts are hard at work compiling ways to still indulge in London’s decadence without burning those pockets.
February gets a bad rap for the singletons, most probably due to the constant reminders of your perpetual loneliness in the increasing omnipresence of pink and red as the days lead up to the 14th. The fortunate thing is that not a cent has to be spent on such sentimental frivolity and instead you can aggressively throw your body against fellow desolate souls at a free gig, of which ten of the best are compiled below.
Also check this out for other free events and activities in February.
#1 HOO HAs | The Old Blue Last | 3 February
Regular host to gigs of the free nature, The Old Blue Last cruises into the first week of the month of love with London quartet HOO HAs. Citing inspiration from disparate corners of the alt-rock universe, think Blur and the Pixies and a distinct Jazz undertone the four-piece unabashedly caters to a variety of music tastes. Couple this with almost spoken word vocals that are in equal parts humorous as they are erudite, this gig, which lest we forget is free, is one you can attend with your uni lecturer, edgy friend or mum and will incontestably have a good time. Support comes from Isles, ones to watch this year.
When: 3 February, Doors: 8 PM
Where: The Old Blue Last, 38 Great Eastern Street, EC2A 3ES
#2 Telegram | Rough Trade East | 4 February
Having formed two years ago Telegram has been steadily releasing a stream of 7-inch singles to whet their ever-growing fan base’s appetite. The quartet will release their debut album “Operator” this month and are celebrating at a live in-store signing and gig at Rough Trade East. You have to purchase the album to get an entry wristband (here), but money well spent in order to bear witness to their huge concoction of psych-kraut rock that is straddled somewhere between the esoteric fury of Brian Eno and Syd Barret.
When: 4 February, Doors: 7 PM
Where: Rough Trade East, 91 Brick Lane, E1 6QL
#3 Sorana Santos | Southbank Centre | 5 February
If you find yourself around Waterloo or need a respite from your desk, catch Sorana Santos at the Southbank Centre. With a background in composing and songwriting but also contemporary music studies, this performance will be something of a lecture in modern music through the medium of a live show. My university track record would be a shining example had this been the methods employed by my lecturers. Head down to the Central Bar at the Royal Festival Hall where she’ll explore modern music utilizing the elements of avant garde Jazz and Pop in her new album.
When: 5 February, Doors: 1 PM
Where: Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XX
#4 Sunflower Bean | Rough Trade East | 5 February
Whilst being a relatively new addition to the psych rock revival, New York’s Sunflower Bean has established something of a cult following. Rough Trade East plays host to a live in-store where the trio will play tracks from their debut album “Human Ceremony”, which once again you’ll need a wristband to attend. However, don’t pigeonhole the group to solely disciples of Kevin Parker with the new album referencing guitar pop reminiscent of The Cure amongst other influences.
When: 5 February, Doors: 7 PM
Where: Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, E1 6QL
#5 Throw Down Bones | The Shacklewell Arms | 7 February
The Shacklewell Arms continues to bring London’s live music punters progressive and crucially affordable music, particularly in a garage band capacity. Since tearing up the stage at Liverpool Psych Fest, Throw Down Bones have gone on to achieve a number of plaudits in producing an inimitably powerful electro-psych sound. So huge is their sound that you would be surprised to hear it’s produced by a duo. So catch the pair as once again many an ear drum is burst at The Shack.
When: 7 February, Doors: 8 PM
Where: The Shacklewell Arms, 71 Shacklewell Lane, E8 2EB
#6 Huw Stephen’s Presents: We’re No Heroes | The Social | 9 February
Radio 1’s Huw Stephen’s brings some of his auditory wisdom to Heavenly records venue The Social. This month sees funky three-piece We’re No Heroes take the stage bringing their smooth but buzzy psych-pop to central London. Seldom would you see a free price tag on a gig featuring a band that started in 2009, which makes them relative veterans in the ever-changing nature of the modern music industry. Therefore, this gig is pretty unmissable so join the boogying throngs to witness the trio and all their vibes that will prove irresistible to anyone with working muscles.
When: 9 February, Doors: 7 PM
Where: The Social, 5 Little Portland St, W1W 7JD
#7 Blonde Bunny | Birthdays | 10 February
One of the more arcane gigs that has taken place this year will be Blonde Bunny at Birthdays. The quartet originates from various places across the UK, is impossible to pin down and will most probably prove divisive amongst even the best of friends. The quartet brings a kaleidoscopic interpretation of modern rock dipping into genres that include shoegaze, pop, indie, jazz and psychedelia. The band mates act as auditory mixologists in combining this uneasy cocktail, making for a somewhat uncomfortable music listening experience but what will possibly stand as the most original gig you’ll go to this year. See you there then.
When: 10 February, Doors: 7:30 PM
Where: Birthdays, 33-35 Stoke Newington Rd, N16 8BJ
#8 Akiine | Birthdays | 16 February
Seem to be spending more than the average amount of time in Dalston this week? Then head back to Birthdays for another free show treat. London via Sweden’s Akiine plays just after Vals Day to soothe those weary souls with her fragile vocals and dark melodies. For fans of Blue Hawaii, the newcomer on the dream pop scene, but not afraid of a thick bassline, has been setting the music press alight, garnering accolades from The Fader and The Line of Best Fit. Hopefully 2016 continues to see her escalate, but catch her before tix become £30 a pop.
When: 16 February, Doors: 8 PM
Where: 33-35 Stoke Newington Rd, N16 8BJ
#9 Houndstooth 3rd Anniversary | The Shacklewell Arms | 25 February
The record label that was born out of London’s legendary Fabric nightclub celebrates its third year of existence and the release of it’s 50th compilation “Tessellations” at The Shack. With electro folk trio Snow Ghosts, experimental pop outfit Soft as Snow and textural producer Guy Andrews on the bill, the night seemingly sticks to Houndstooth’s refreshingly inconsistent approach to electronic music, an attitude it’s been routinely lauded for.
When: 25 February, Doors: 7:30 PM
Where: The Shacklewell Arms, 71 Shacklewell Lane, E8 2EB
#10 Bxcentric | The Lock Tavern | 27 February
Camden’s lock tavern sees itself being taken over by Bxcentric’s own Nanda Records to celebrate the dance music stalwart’s latest release. No stranger to the decks, Bxcentric has held residencies at XOYO, Fabric and Space, Ibiza, and is a purveyor of the UK’s house and techno scenes. Dancing is non-negotiable.
When: 27 February, Doors: 8 PM
Where: The Lock Tavern, 35 Chalk Farm Rd, London NW1 8AJ