VENUE OF THE MONTH: SHACKLEWELL ARMS
Unsuspecting, unassuming, but undoubtedly one of the best venues in London at the moment is Shacklewell Arms. Situated on a street corner surrounded by coffee shops, a few schools and the Underground office, the venue stands proud – and slightly rough – as one of the venues keeping the UK music scene alive. Dalston is its motherland, and with acts like Sisteray and Skinny Girl Diet emerging from the East, and venues like the Old Blue and Birthdays in abundance, it seems the perfect backdrop for the pub.
Kitschy and colourful, the venue eclectically combines a number of aesthetics: from the Caribbean covered courtyards with fairy lights galore, to the semi-traditional bar area with dark beams and low lighting; with a photo of Princess Diana watching over punters as they mill about the front-room before a gig in the flower-power themed bizarre backroom. Each of these aspects remains intact from the incarnation of the pub; nodding here and there to its heritage whilst still remaining new. It isn’t concerned with being pretty or presentable – take the faded cloud murals in the gig room or the gaudy art that adorns in the walls that would make any granny proud- but rather makes all its claims on the authentic, the grimy and the real.
The venue largely gears itself to Garage Rock, Post Punk, Psychedelic and Indie bands from the US, Europe and South America, drawing in on its colourful heritage and situating it in London. But the venue also acts as a grand stage for small UK bands to make their mark on the scene. Pals with those over at Eat Your Own Ears and Scared to Dance, bands like King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, The Horrors, Jamie XX, Solange, DiiV, Night Beats and more have all played there and pretty much gone on to bigger things. It’s almost as if the Shacklewell has a magical crystal ball and can predict the next big things. If they do have one, we want in.
If gigs alone weren’t enough, Mark Ronson, Andrew Garfield, SBTRKT and the like have all frequented the venue, and Stranger Things cast members and Ultimate Painting have literally gone one step further and worked behind the bar at some point.
Shacklewell Arms is the undisputed capital of cool. When we asked them what makes the venue so special, we got an unequivocal answer and we needn’t say more.
There’s something intangible about it. You can tell the moment people start crowd surfing and hanging off bits of the ceiling that it’s a place people feel comfortable letting loose and enjoying themselves. You can see a great show, hang out in the garden and then dance till 3am.
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