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Our Favourite Venues: Londoners Birthmarks Recall Nightmare Journeys, Sweatboxes and Candlelit Kittens

In this ongoing feature focussing on the smaller venues, Londoners Birthmarks recall nightmare journeys, sweatboxes, and candlelit kittens.



With many smaller live music venues struggling to survive the Coronavirus lockdown which has brought the live music scene to a standstill, we’re wanting to help keep the profile of some of these venues going until they’re back giving music fans gig memories they’ll never forget.

Having just released their new album, …And Then The Rain Stopped, London genre-smashers Birthmarks are the latest band to take us on a trip to some of their favourite venues.

Top Local Venue:

Sister Midnight Records, 4 Tanner’s Hill, New Cross, London SE8 4PJ
– It’s a really hard choice as there are a load of great and really important venues in London but if I had a gun to my head our top local venue would have to be Sister Midnight Records in Deptford. Lenny and Jack have built a really cool space and hub of local talent, it’s incredibly intimate in size and very open in its outlook. It’s a safe space and we’ve been fortunate enough to host our club night Eclipse there on many occasions.

Top Five Independant Venues

The Windmill, 22 Blenheim Gardens, Brixton, London SW2 5BZ
The Windmill is the London avant-garde institution, we’ve all been playing on and off there for years and each gig has had its own special feeling, no two nights at the Windmill be the same. Tim and the rest of the team have built up one of the most interesting and influential venues in the country.

The Fulford Arms, 121 Fulford Rd, York YO10 4EX
The Fulford is one of the most welcoming places that I’ve ever been to. It’s got such a warm energy and the extra effort that they go to for bands is great.

The Purple Turtle, 9 Gun St, Reading RG1 2JR,
– We played at The Purple Turtle for the first time this year and after a nightmare of a journey unexpectedly played one of our favourite gigs ever. The team that works at that venue are amazing and have built up something really special. Special shout out to John the sound king for giving us one of the most flattering compliments ever: “You’re like the Stewart Lee of alternative rock”.

Dive, 57 Princes Ave, Hull HU5 3QY,
Dive is just wild, to be honest, it’s a sweatbox with no rules. We had an amazing night there recently with allusinlove and The Cartels which will forever be etched into our memories.

The Old Hairdressers, Renfield Ln, Glasgow G2 5AR
– Glasgow is such a great city for music with loads of fantastic venues but The Old Hairdressers just felt purpose-built for the kind of gigs that we do, it offers a blank space which is completely adaptable for the performance. As a small band being able to stamp your own aesthetic onto a venue without having to compromise at any level is extremely rare but the Old Hairdressers not only provide this but seem to welcome it. It’s worth the three flights of stairs.

Favourite Gig Memory:
– This one changes all of the time, most of my favourite memories are from stages and venues. Being able to go into any DIY space where someone’s dedicated their life to showcasing bands and artists is a privilege and each experience is cherished. We had a really great time after our last gig in Bristol, we were crashing at my friend’s house and her cat had just had about a thousand kittens and there was a powercut. Candlelit kittens!

I have an unhealthy obsession with bad horror movies, the song Wanted Dead Or Alive and crap British game shows. I do this not because of the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll lifestyle it affords me but more because it gives me an excuse to listen to bands that sound like hippos mating.