I’ve always adored the hustle and bustle of London; the unassuming quiet countryside is no match against a city active 24/7 surrounded by different ethnicities and cultures – why spend life stuck in an area moving nowhere when the capital is constantly evolving and moulding? Finally, on Good Friday I found myself back in my spiritual home, and I experienced the most hectic, but fulfilling 48 hours exploring the wonders and treasures the capital had to offer.
On Good Friday, I awoke barely able to sleep a wink from excitement, at 6am and endured two seemingly never-ending coach journeys, before rocking up to Golders Green station early afternoon. At the station, I met my friend who I have known for many months now, but due to the crazy distance between us, it was the first time we had met in half a year knowing each other! My friend is extremely London-savvy, and knew the most intriguing and interesting spots for us to visit during my brief visit to London.
One main difference between my quaint, peaceful county and the capital is public transport – whilst you’re lucky to find a train to catch back at home, in London the Tube is an extremely efficient and quick, cheap way to travel around the city quickly. We soon arrived at Camden; the area is well-known for its colourful, bold, vibrant market, and you can literally buy almost anything from the tens of stalls present, from accessories to scrumptious street food. There were people covering every inch of the market, and it was instantly apparent to me the appeal of the market.
A quick trip up the Tube took us next to God’s Own Junkyard, in Walthamstow. The neon-lights collection is believed to be the largest in Europe and perhaps the world; a dazzling array of glorious exciting colours greeted my friend and I, with the signs stored there including humorous mimics and famous quotes, from the likes of John Lennon and The Smiths. After knowing about the place for so long, I am delighted I had the opportunity to visit at long last.
Neon quotes from John Lennon & lyrics from ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ from The Smiths.
On both nights of my visit to London my friend and I had concerts planned – the first one took place in a charming, cosy pub in the heart of musical hub Brixton. We arrived halfway through an all-day punk concert taking place at The Windmill, and some of the bands who performed included Dead Coast, Calva Louise, Cobalt Chapel, and Les Sueques. My friend and I caught the whole set of the three-piece punk group Calva Louise; the band have a lead female vocalist in Jess and her voice was amazing, both when she sang and in the screaming parts of the tracks. Jess was joined by Alizon on bass and Ben on drums, and they were pivotal in maintaining the drive and buzz of their set. Despite not being around for even a year under their current name, the group are naturally talented live performers and performed a number of songs both already recorded and in the process of being recorded, and all were insanely catchy tracks with killer memorable hooks. Calva Louise are performing at a handful of festivals in the upcoming months and I would highly recommend checking them out.
Whilst the previous day my friend had taken me to see the wonders of Camden Market, the following day we visited Covent Garden, a shopping hub worlds apart. Its indoor market consists of high-end independent shops and designer brands, complete with street performers and entertainers around every corner. Whilst I liked both areas for very different areas, I still felt more drawn to Camden out of the two, just because I felt it had more personality than Covent Garden; one of the reasons why London is superb is due to these contrasts; you can turn down another street and the landscape changes from traditional multi-cultural areas with cheaper housing, to wealthy gentrified parts, and it is the whole of the capital which makes London unique and unlike no other place.
Music has formed the strong connection between my friend and I; we both absolutely adore vintage British music from artists the likes of The Beatles and David Bowie, so we made sure we fit going to both Abbey Road and Brixton’s Bowie Memorial into my London weekend. For those of you who don’t know (although I would like to think everyone who reads my blog knows this infamous moment in music history), John, Paul, Ringo and George famously walked across the zebra crossing and the photo was used for their eleventh studio album. To follow in their footsteps (literally) and walk across the crossing felt unreal and magical, given the extent to which I love the Liverpudlian band! Beside the Abbey Road studios is the Abbey Road gift shop, and I could not leave the St. John’s Wood without an official Abbey Road coaster for my Mum, who is also a massive Beatles fan!
Continuing the musical themed part of my flying visit, my friend and I popped back to Brixton, this time to witness the Bowie memorial. It felt like a pilgrimage finally visiting the well-known memorial to pay my respects to the musical legend. Just after the musician died someone painted Bowie in his alter ego of Ziggy Stardust on this wall, and since then the memorial has expanded, with heartfelt, beautiful tributes wrote on the wall space either side of the outstanding artwork. It was an honour to write my message alongside the thousands of others present.
After a quick London street crepe, my friend and I took the Overground to Dalston, Hackney, where the main part of her birthday was taking place. Amongst the indie, rock, and modern punk scene This Feeling are known well for booking up and coming acts to play at intimate venues all across the country, and this time round The Victoria pub was the choice of venue for thrilling indie rock and punk groups. Holding around 150 people, whilst the main use of the Victoria building is predominantly a pub, through a ‘gap in the bookshelf’ exposes the stage area of the building, and it is possible to stand right next to the stage.
Creeping Jean, Misfires, BlackWaters and Strange Bones all wowed and impressed the crowd, whilst guest performers SISTERAY, who were announced to perform just hours before the gig occurred, performed the entirety of latest EP 15 Minutes, in, well you guessed it, 15 minutes. They had an innovative stage setting for their performance – SISTERAY had a countdown which gave the crowd an idea of whereabouts in the EP they had got up to, and how long they had left on stage – as I expected the group did run a little over the fifteen minutes, not that anyone minded. Their zesty, hyped up performance produced a huge reaction from the crowd and I did not ever want their lively set to draw to a close.
BlackWaters and Strange Bones are bands I had never listened to before, purely due to my listening habits mainly sticking to lighter, breezy indie tracks, but both groups thoroughly impressed me with once again highly energetic performances, and their level of crowd interaction. Strange Bones’ lead singer has unique stage antics, from running into the crowd to lying down mid-vocals, and I loved to see the singer just not give a fuck about what he was doing. All in all, the gig was brilliant and I hope to not only go to a This Feeling night again (I’d love to see some hit Lincolnshire and Hull soon), but also to more gigs in the smallest but craziest venues of all.
From seeing diverse culture to my first real hardcore punk gigs, I enjoyed every second of my time in the capital, and it’s made me even more certain the city is where I would absolutely love to work and live in one day.