There's simply no denying London's importance when it comes to all things musical (and not just The Lion King and Phantom of the Opera). London is unrivalled in terms of influencing genres, from rock and punk through to Brit Pop, dance and dubstep. There are loads of top bars and clubs for live music to keep the scene pogo-jumping along. London was the birthplace of rock and heavy metal music, with bands such as Iron Maiden, The Clash, Led Zeppelin and The Sex Pistols all forming in the hell-raising capital. The rock bars London has to offer, including metal bars and rock club nights, still pay homage to all things leather and long-haired. Nothing will blow away the blues quite like a night in one of these top London rock bars.
Image courtesy of Flickr user MangakaMaiden Photography.
Holloway / Bar / Cuisine: American
Big Red is a rock music boozer of choice. This Holloway Road institution boasts a Tex-Mex food menu - think burgers, chilli dogs, ribs and pulled pork - surly tattooed barmaids (who produce their own annual calendar; seriously), an epic jukebox and, wait for it, an AC/DC pinball machine. Punters can also indulge in a game of pool or table football, should they fancy.
Soho / Bar /
A mecca for heavy metal heads, cramped and dingy Crobar (pictured above) is sandwiched in the tiny strip of shop fronts that runs between The Borderline and Charing Cross Road in Soho. Patrons of this heavy metal bar are of the black-clad variety, piercing and tattoos abound, and Bulleit (plus a mixer) is £3 all night from Monday to Thursday. Banging tunes (courtesy of a fine jukebox and the occasional live gig), cheap bourbon and rock 'n' roll, as well as the longest happy hour in the city (from 4pm-9pm every day) - what's not to love?
Angel & Islington / Bar /
How's this for an alumni: Green Day, Muse, Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Oasis, My Chemical Romance, The Killers, and Suede? This is the calibre of live rock bands that have actually played at The Garage indie rock bar and club. In addition to live bands, there's rock club nights such as Gonzo where you'll hear the likes of Arcade Fire, Beastie Boys, Biffy Clyro, Blink 182, Bloc Party, Death from Above 1979, Foo Fighters, Kings of Leon, Paramore, Pixies, QOTSA, Radiohead, Slaves, The Strokes, and Weezer. 2-4-1 drinks all night as well (two Jagerbombs for a fiver!).
Camden / Bar / Club /
Situated below the iconic Worlds End rock pub in Camden, The Underworld rock club has been known as a landmark venue for their popular club nights for both signed and emerging bands. Conveniently located near Camden Town tube station, this rock venue has been graced by famous people such as Charles Dickens to modern-day icons. You can savour pulled pork sandwiches and smoked burnt ends before moving onto the club space downstairs. The Underworld has hosted great acts such as the Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.
Slim Jim’s Liquor Store
Angel & Islington / Bar /
Slim Jim's Liquor Store, the popular American dive bar in Angel, resembles the set of the classic American film, Coyote Ugly. Think bare brick walls, red vinyl bar stools and neon signs. They have assembled an impressive list of whiskies and liquors from all corners of the globe to help get your party started whilst music comes courtesy of their award-winning jukebox which can play classics from Led Zeppelin to Gun's N Roses. They have live musical performances on Saturday evenings. Also, they famously offer free drinks to London ladies who give them their bras.
West End / Bar / Restaurant / Club / Cuisine: American
Roadhouse Bar in Covent Garden is a great place to spend a Saturday night. It is open until late so you can enjoy live bands and DJs, rockaoke, flair bartenders and all-night US-style eats. Roadhouse Bar has private areas where you can participate in masterclass cocktail making with the bartender, if you've become bored of the great music. Expect to be entertained all night long though; the lively team make tasty cocktails with plenty of skill and bundles of personality. Nightly happy hours and an extensive cocktail list make it the perfect place to party. The food is influenced by the diners and bars of the States. It is all nachos, chicken wings, ribs and ice cream sandwiches for dessert.
Garlic & Shots
Soho / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: Bar
The unique heavy metal bar in Soho, Garlic and Shots, has been drawing in the alternative crowds since 1992. Upstairs they play classic rock music, whilst the dungeonesque basement area plays blaring heavy metal music. Expect tattooed staff members and no attitude service from them. The bar offers 101 different flavoured vodka shots whilst no dishes here are served without garlic. Leather is very much the in-thing at this London music venue, so expect plenty of Goths and bikers to mingle with.
Aces & Eights
Kentish Town / Bar / Cuisine: Pizza
If you like rock music from the 50's, look no further than Aces and Eights Saloon Bar, next to Tufnell Park Tube station. DJs and live bands play 1950s-style rock 'n' roll sets. The cocktail bar element is very trendy in its décor with neon signs and humbling decorations depicting famous milestones of contemporary music history. Aces and Eights Saloon Bar serves top quality pizza too and is open until 2.30am on Friday and Saturday nights.
Roadtrip & The Workshop
Shoreditch / Bar / Club /
Smack bang in the middle of Shoreditch is late-night London music bar, Roadtrip & The Workshop. Perfect for chatting, eating, admiring and, most of all, watching some live rock music. Even the toilets are cool: newspaper scatterings placed on the walls with vintage door hangings to guide your way. This place gets rowdy when Sum 41 classics are performed. Do your research beforehand though as different nights provide different types of music. So whilst rock, punk, metal and ska might happen some nights, other nights it might be funk, disco, soul or R 'n' B. A musical potpourri.
Highgate / Bar /
Although not the most central of London music venues for a night out, Boogaloo is just a few minutes walk from Highgate station. Its weathered interior is the result of many great times had over the years, listening to everything from rock to jazz to punk. The jukebox collection is legendary, but the live bands and DJs in the evening are the main reasons you come to this rock bar. Rumour has it Shane McGowan of The Pogues used to live upstairs and still pops in occasionally.
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