With IVW just around the corner, we get the latest on London clubs and venues featuring KOKO, Canvas, Minus One, the MSG Sphere, and more.

Independent Venue Week kicks off on Monday (January 27th) with 29 DIY gig spots in London taking part in the celebration. This is your chance to support your local independent venue, record store or bar as they brave it out in the harsh winter of London’s hostile rental environment. The week is also a nod to the people that own, run and work in them – week in and week out.

“At a time where independent venues continue to provide a vital platform in every artists’ career, yet still struggle to keep their doors open, it’s more important than ever for every artist, no matter what size, to continue our support and be vocal about their vitality,” says singer/guitarist Anna Calvi.

From the Elgar Room at the Royal Albert Hall to the Good Mixer in Camden, some of the capital’s hottest venues are taking part, such as: 100 Club, 229 London, Aces & Eights, Boston Music Room, Bush Hall, Half Moon Putney, Lion Clapton, New Cross Inn, Paper Dress Vintage, Peckham Audio, Raven Tower Bridge, Red Lion Ballroom, Roadtrip & The Workshop, Sister Midnight Records, The Amersham Arms, The Dome, The Dublin Castle, The Macbeth, The Slaughtered Lamb, The Social, The Troubadour, The Underdog London, Tooting Tram and Social, Trinity, Troxy, WERKHAUS and the Windmill Brixton.

Brixton Windmill

Highlights of the week include Anna Calvi and Martha Skye Murphy playing the Windmill Brixton and The Heliocentrics, Tom Furse DJ Set (The Horrors) and Skinshape performing at the Red Lion Ballroom in Leytonstone. Both gigs take place on Friday (January 31st).

“Without small, independent venues, there’d be no small, independent bands, and without them there’d be no big acts either,” says singer Frank Turner. “These places are the lifeblood of any music scene, and any music fan should care about them.”

KOKO disaster

One independent venue in desperate need of help is Camden’s iconic KOKO. The roof of the historic concert hall caught fire and was partially destroyed on January 6th with firefighters heroically saving the rest of the venue from destruction. 

Photo: Oliver Cooper

As we previously reported, KOKO is undergoing a major refurbishment with a five-storey boutique hotel being built next door. After the fire, KOKO’s owners said: “The whole team at KOKO are incredibly grateful for the swift action of the London Fire Brigade helping to contain the fire; our beloved KOKO is still standing. We will be back… once we have had time to properly assess the consequences of the fire.”

Hit the Canvas  

The new year started with a bang after new 300-capacity venue Canvas was finally declared ready to open. The Bethnal Green club – brought to you by the team behind Oval Space and The Pickle Factory – is set to open its doors on February 29th with an all-night set from Eclair Fifi. “It all feels sweaty and intimate, and it really is a blank canvas,” the Scottish DJ told Resident Advisor. “It feels like a wee warehouse, and most people know how much I love warehouse parties.”

Old Laundry hung out

Look familiar? The former London Fields venue The Laundry is set to be relaunched as a venue by the Shout About team.

Minus One

Called Minus One, it will see the troubled space given a new lease of life before the building is demolished. The ground floor bar and restaurant will be sublet to an immersive theatre company, while the basement will be a live performance and event space for up to 700 people. Minus One is set to open next month.

“We are always looking to support the industry by creating affordable event spaces for experiential businesses to operate from, and this was too good an opportunity to give up,” said Ben Gamble from Shout About. The space had been shuttered since an acid attack on clubbers in 2017. And further controversy has erupted as its owners unveiled plans to turn the huge site into luxury flats. 

Glowing orb row

There’s a giant glowing orb of a venue coming to Stratford – and local residents are hardly over the moon. That’s the news from the Hackney Citizen which reports that 21,000 capacity MSG Sphere had met vociferous opposition from neighbours – as well as its local Extinction Rebellion group. The glowing advertising orb from the Madison Square Garden Company has been opposed by Hackney Council, who said it distracted from the views of Hackney Marshes and the River Lea.