Shoreditch is London’s classic entertainment district, a historic part of the city that has been the domain of theatregoers and play lovers since the days when Shakespeare first began holding performances in the 16th century.
These days the scene might be a little different, but the heart and soul of Shoreditch have never really changed. Shoreditch has always been at the forefront of trends and it’s always been at the forefront of the music scene.
While you won’t find huge music arenas or sell-out stadium tours in Shoreditch, you will find iconic venues tucked away down narrow alleys and intimate performances in packed-out pubs. This is where the best up-and-coming acts play to be discovered, and where those that have already made it return for nostalgic performances.
From the Old Blue Last to the Queen of Hoxton, here are the best places to see live music in Shoreditch.
The Old Blue Last
The Old Blue Last is one of the most iconic pubs in Shoreditch, and it’s a venue that has become legendary over the years. This is a pub that has done more than anywhere else to give Shoreditch its hipster image; The Old Blue Last is actually owned by the infamous trendsetters that run Vice magazine.
This is a pub that’s steeped in history too, being over 300 years old. But despite its age, it attracts one of the younger crowds in Shoreditch. Over the last decade, since Vice turned a dilapidated pub into a stellar music venue, The Old Blue Last has seen the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Amy Winehouse, the Klaxons, Florence + the Machine, and many, many more famous acts play when they were trying to break into the music scene.
If you are looking to see the best up-and-coming artists, then visit The Old Blue Last on one of their gig nights. Any other time, it’s still a great pub for a night out, even if there’s no music on!
Queen of Hoxton
The Queen of Hoxton is another legendary Shoreditch venue that’s one of the best places to catch some live music. Found on Curtain Road in the heart of the district, this is a multi-level and multi-purpose venue that’s always hosting interesting events and nights out.
The Queen of Hoxton is both a bar and a pub, and there are three different levels, including an open-air rooftop that gets packed out in the summer evenings. The venue hosts movie screenings, dance nights and even ukulele lessons, and there’s always something different going on any night of the week.
It’s best known for its club and live music nights though, and parties on the weekends go on well into the early, early hours of the morning.
Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen
Tucked away in Shoreditch, the Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen is a famous venue that puts on both club nights and live music events through the week. Hoxton Square has a solid reputation on the party scene in Shoreditch, and it’s one of the most popular venues in the area.
Despite this, it’s actually a rather laidback venue too. The outdoor terrace gives you the chance to sit out in the sun or to enjoy the cool evening air, while the first room is perfect for simply relaxing with cocktails or with some food in a great ambience.
The real fun happens in the second room though, as this opens up late at night for clubbing or is used for live music in the evenings. Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen has it all really, and it’s perfect for any kind of night out that you’re looking for in Shoreditch.
Village Underground is a venue and cultural space that is just about as quintessentially Shoreditch as you could imagine. This is East London at its best, and the entire place screams hipster from the rooftops.
The venue is housed inside a renovated warehouse that dates back to the 19th century, and on the roof, there’s an iconic Shoreditch sight. Decommissioned tube trains that have painted and covered in murals and graffiti have been installed on top of the building, and have become somewhat of a landmark in the area.
Inside the warehouse, there is a large concert area that hosts DJs and live music events in what is an atmospheric and loud venue. A huge array of different genres and artists play here, and every night can be totally different from the last.
93 Feet East
Located on Brick Lane, one of Shoreditch’s liveliest streets, 93 Feet East is a popular bar, club and live music venue.
For two decades, 93 Feet East has been entertaining crowds with its excellent array of events, ranging from intense DJ sets to up-and-coming music nights. 93 Feet East is part of the Old Truman Brewery complex, which is the most comprehensive events and entertainment venue in East London.
The old brewery was converted into a business and artistic space. As well as 93 Feet East, there are regular markets, events, shows and exhibitions held here throughout the year.
No, not the Norwegian capital, but a bar and restaurant in Hackney that puts on great live music events. Oslo claims to be inspired by Nordic traditions and culture, and that shines through in the chic surroundings and innovative drinks and food menus.
What really makes Oslo great though is its unique location within a disused train station. The venue is next to Hackney Central Station, in a Victorian-era building that was put out of service and left to crumble many years ago, until it was taken over and redeveloped into Oslo.
They have live music several times a week, and if there are no bands playing on the weekends, they host club nights too on their cavernous music floor.
Cargo is located just off Shoreditch High Street, and it’s a fantastic place to spend your evenings and weekends if you are looking to find new bands and music acts to listen to.
While Cargo originally earned itself a reputation for being primarily a clubbing venue with late-night DJ sets and big parties, it’s also begun to earn a reputation for its excellent live music nights.
Of course it’s still very much a club venue too, but on live music nights, you can find a big music scene, and many up-and-coming acts performing. Cargo is found in an old railway yard and is a fantastic example of repurposing. As well as the event space, there are bars, a restaurant and a popular outdoor terrace. You can even find modern art on display at Cargo, including the odd Banksy piece.
If you’re looking for a truly alternative and creative hub in Shoreditch, then head down to Bethnal Green Road, where you can find Rich Mix.
This popular events space is much more than just a live music venue. Rich Mix is best described as a cultural hub. It’s an art space, a creative centre, and even a charity, and they help to support Shoreditch’s rich diversity through their venue and initiatives.
At Rich Mix, you can enjoy new galleries and alternative exhibitions from local artists, catch screenings of both new and classic movies at the cinema, and listen to fantastic live acts in the entertainment venue. Many of the musicians and artists are from London’s more marginalised communities, and it offers a fantastic chance to learn more about the area’s incredible multicultural makeup.
The Macbeth is a more traditional Shoreditch pub that also hosts plenty of live music evenings. With a name alluding to Shoreditch’s Shakespearian past, The Macbeth has been here for well over a century, serving drinks and providing entertainment in the East End of London.
A century of drinking and partying has left The Macbeth with a sterling reputation in London, and it has a rich cultural history that few other venues in the area can match, apart from perhaps the infamous The Old Blue Last.
The darkened exterior might seem a little run down from the outside but don’t worry, it’s all part of the rustic charm. Inside, you’ll find a modern bar serving a surprisingly cosmopolitan selection of drinks and cocktails, rather than just the pints of ale you might expect from first impressions.
The Blues Kitchen
Located on Curtain Road, The Blues Kitchen is the place to go if you’re looking for Deep South style food and an evening of blues music.
The restaurant has live acts playing blues, country music, soul and funk every single night of the week, and you’ll find the decor and atmosphere will transport you instantly to the southern states of America. On weekends, the music goes on late into the night, too.
You could be in Louisiana or Tennessee, not in the middle of Shoreditch. While the musicians do their thing on stage, you can order from the extensive food and drink menus. The Blues Kitchen serves up everything from lobster and brisket, to southern fried chicken and bean burgers.
The Shacklewell Arms
If the culture of America’s Deep South isn’t quite your thing, then head to The Shacklewell Arms where you can have a taste of something a little closer to home.
Found on Shacklewell Lane close to the Dalston Downs, this is a classic London pub that hosts regular live acts in intimate surroundings. The pub serves up a selection of burgers and hot dogs, keeping things simple on the menu front, and they have a solid range of drinks too.
There’s nothing too fancy about this venue, but that’s part of the draw. Most importantly, they have a surprisingly packed schedule of bands and artists from the local area playing all through the week.
The Auld Shillelagh
Just north of Dalston in Stoke Newington, you can find what’s often claimed to be one of the best Irish pubs in London. The Auld Shillelagh is stereotypically Irish. There’s Guinness on tap, Jameson Whiskey behind the bar, and green decor everywhere.
It’s a great place to enjoy plenty of drinks and to eat some hearty, traditional Irish pub grub too. The pub has a huge reputation but, surprisingly, it’s actually a rather small venue. That doesn’t stop them packing the place in with musicians though, and you’ll be able to dance your night away to traditional Irish folk songs and ballads while you drink Guinness after Guinness.
Cafe Oto forms the heart of the Dalston music scene to the north of Shoreditch High Street. If you’re searching for a unique venue and unique place to listen to music, then head here.
During the day, this is a simple cafe serving up coffees and light lunches, but come evening time the space is transformed into an intimate music venue. Cafe Oto is a community project, and the venue helps to showcase and to fund local musicians from a variety of backgrounds, who offer a variety of styles and genres.
Tickets can sell out for the evening events, so grab then when you can!
Vortex Jazz Club
If you’re looking for an evening of jazz entertainment then head to Dalston and call in at the Vortex Jazz Club.
This classic jazz venue has been around since the 1980s and has hosted some of the very best in both British and international performers over the last three decades. This is a place to see both established and up-and-coming jazz acts, and the company that runs the venue frequently signs performers to their own record label as well.
There are regular events all through the week from a variety of groups and artists, and there’s always a great atmosphere. If you’re into jazz, then there are few other venues anywhere in London that have as good a reputation as the Vortex Jazz Club amongst jazz fans.
As London experts we know a thing or two about where to find the best live music in Shoreditch – and around the capital. While you’re in town, check out Premium Tours’ fantastic range of London tours to get more inside information on this superb city.