London music Venues Big or small, rock'n'roll or Irish, live performances across the city come with stories to tell.

O2 Academy Brixton

At one of the most celebrated venues in Britain, the only thing more impressive than the O2 Academy Brixton's 140-foot dome, ornate Art Deco interior and long, sloping floors that allow for the best views, is the laundry list of bands who have graced the largest fixed stage in Europe. Built in the 1920s as a variety show theatre, the Brixton Academy began hosting shows in the 1980s. Since then, the 5,000-capacity venue with the feel of a much larger arena has hosted The Clash, Lady Gaga, Coldplay and more.

  • Left: O2 Academy Brixton entrance.
  • Above: O2 Academy interior viewed from the uppermost standing room during a sold-out Bowling for Soup performance in February 2020.

The Fiddler

On a much smaller, but equally energetic, scale, The Fiddler Live Music in Kilburn fits just over 100 people. In a venue where the band hides in the hallway to the bathroom before coming on stage, there's no hiding and anything goes. When The Kilkennys, a traditional Irish band, played on a Sunday night in February, the small crowd didn't stop the band and the people from having a blast and dancing a jig or two.

Half Moon Putney

Every Monday night at the Half Moon Putney is "New Moon - A Night of New Music." Since 2017, the £2.50 gig showcases five up-and-coming artists, loosely in the genre of rock, from all around the world. On other nights of the week, everything from stand-up comedy to Neil Young cover bands perform. The intimate space has a capacity of 250, but that hasn't stopped them from hosting such acts as U2 and Ed Sheeran.

Top Left: Ruby Duff. Top Right: Beth Keeping. Bottom: The Connor Adams Project. These three acts in addition to two others performed at the Half Moon's "Full Moon" on Monday, Feb 10, 2020.

Rough Trade East

If loud and crowded venues aren't your speed, there are still plenty of options for live music around town. Rough Trade East in Brick Lane hosts more than a dozen shows a month.

A stripped down stage in the back of Rough Trade's flagship UK location offers and unbeatably intimate show. Pictured is Jeb Loy Nichols in 2017 playing for a crowd of 20 or so people standing among stacks of records. Last month, Oh Wonder celebrated the release of their new album, "No One Else Can Wear Your Crown," and next month, Diet Cig will do the same with their album, "Do You Wonder About Me?" Most shows here last between 45 minutes and one hour, followed by artist meet-and-greets.

The Ship Tavern

Live music doesn't have to come with a cost though. The nearly-500-year-old Ship Tavern hosts the free Gin & Jazz every Sunday from 4:30-7 p.m. in the downstairs bar. An upright bass, electric guitar, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, violin and vocalist fill the cozy wooden room.

Above: Bowling for Soup, a Texas-based punk band, performs at the O2 Academy Brixton.

Explore more about each venue's histories and upcoming shows at the links below.

Created By
Carter Mohs


Photos and videos by Carter Mohs