London's Culture Death: What the City's Best Music Venues Look Like Now

Fuck's sake.

af Emma Garland and Chris Bethell
04 oktober 2016, 7:44am

At this point, hearing that yet another historical, beloved and/or culturally significant venue in London has closed comes as even less of a surprise than seeing Piers Morgan trending for having an opinion nobody asked for. The wave of gentrification has swept across the city, uprooting not just clubs but entire communities, at such a rapid pace you'd be forgiven for forgetting what the luxury flats or building sites you walk by daily used to be.

So in the interest of not forgetting, or forgiving, we sent photographer Chris Bethell around London to see what has become of some of the city's once-favourite haunts.

THE SILVER BULLET (2010 - 2016)

​Who played there: Don Letts, Laura Marling, DJ Derek. All the greats.

Why it shut down: In a tale as old as David Cameron's time in office, an upmarket restaurant company which owns 'Burger and Lobster' bought out the lease then asked the club for £300,000 to buy it back. Obviously that did not happen.

What it is now: A joyless husk. But it will soon be a joyless husk where you get to pick either burger or lobster from a menu, just like you can at 21 other locations in the city.

12 BAR CLUB (1994 - 2016)

Who played there: Adele, Regina Spektor, Joanna Newsom, The Libertines, Jeff actual Buckley - pre-Grace era and everything.

Why it shut down: The original 12 Bar Club on Denmark Street – which will be remembered as a music mecca for anybody over the age of 30-years-old – was one of the venues taken as collateral during the Great Tottenham Court Road​ Redevelopment That Nobody Asked For. It was closed in January 2015 to make way for the Crossrail Project. Then a bunch of activists moved in​ and started holding shows there in an effort to keep the spirit of rock n' roll alive. Property owners tried to evict them, then the club relocated to a new venue in Islington and eventually ceased trading in February this year. So, in a word: commuting.

What it is now: Part of a large, multimedia building complex called Outernet: a fully web-connected "street scape," with shops, cafes and a new performance space that promises to be "a new dawn for meaningful brand engagement." Kill me now.

PEOPLE'S (1991 - 2015)

​Who played there: Jamie xx, Jacques Greene, How To Dress Well, Oneman, George Fitzgerald, MSSNGNO, Koreless, Evian Christ, and the rest.

Why it shut down: Complaints from local residents about the noise even though the club had been in full legal possession of a 24-hour license for over 30 years and mysteriously didn't receive any criticism until recently.

What it is now: A gravestone for the last bastion of community-based nightlife, nestled quiet and sad next to what is now an extremely tragically named cafe.

BUFFALO BAR (2000 - 2014)

​Who played there: Hot Chip, Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Long Blondes, Art Brut, Savages, Bloc Party, Mclusky... You get the vibe.​

Why it shut down: One day employees showed up to find an eviction notice slapped to the door from the building's new landlords, Stonegate Pub Company, which owns Slug and Lettuce, Yates's, and all that sort of £12-bottle-of-wine-in-an-ice-bucket shit.

What it is now: ​A soon to be chain restaurant where people with middle-management jobs can go for an evening of posh performance art that peaks with some banter about the flavoured condom machine in the toilet.

TURNMILLS (1985 - 2008)

Who played there: Turnmills was famously home to the highly successful, pioneering and influential gay clubnight​ 'Trade', until the lease ran out.

Why did it shut down: To become an office block.

What is it now: This miserable fucking office block.

CABLE (2009 - 2013)

Who played there: Anyone who knows exactly how and when to drop the bass.

Why it shut down: After a two-year legal battle with Network Rail – who allegedly required the space back for the redevelopment of London Bridge statio​n – a bunch of dudes turned up with angle grinders​, cut through the metal shutters and took immediate possession of the venue.

What is it now: A pedestrianised tunnel.

THE LUMINAIRE (2005 - 2011)

Who played there: Jamie T, Bat For Lashes, Babyshambles and people of that ilk.

Why it shut down: "It's been a labour of love for a while now, and at this point it makes no sense for us to continue" - venue management, 2010.

What it is now: ​A bunch of plush apartments named after the venue they replaced.


Who played there: ​I'll save you some time here because we don't all have time to write or read a list of every band that ever existed, so: everyone. All the bands. Like, your parents definitely went to a show at one of these venues as part of those "weekends away" they do sometimes that you wave off and pretend don't definitely end in a sex romp at the Travelodge.

Why it shut down: ​To shuttle suburban boys from Essex to the city and ​city boys between Paddington and Canary Wharf so they can all do their Important Business faster.

What it is now: Yet more Crossrail collateral.

MARQUEE CLUB​ (1958 - 1996, 2001 - 2003, 2007 - 2008)

Who played there: Residencies during the 60s alone included The Rolling Stones​, The Yardbirds​, Led Zeppelin​, The Who​, King Crimson​, Yes​, Jethro Tull​, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac and The Manish Boys​ featuring David Bowie​. Then came Status Quo, The Police, Joy Division, Buzzcocks, Iron Maiden and, on several occasions in the early 80s, my dad.

Why did it shut down: Sold for redevelopment.

What is it now: A New York-style pizzeria that describes itself as "casual-chic" and therefore cannot possibly be anything that remotely resembles a New York pizzeria. Also, some flats.

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