London is truly the home of rock music with heaps of venues putting on live shows, gigs and concerts.
The list of bands from London is a veritable who's who of rock royalty: The Who, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Queen and many more big names.
When you’re ready to rock out, London has plenty of venues, from classic rock'n'roll atmosphere in smaller spaces to iconic clubs that have stood the test of time.
Discover the different beats of the city with this guide to the best places in London to see rock music.
1. The 100 Club
The 100 Club has seen an impressive number of acts in its eight decades, including The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Who, Oasis and the White Stripes. Thanks to the club’s legendary history, big-name bands, such as Queens of the Stone Age, Paul McCartney and The Rolling Stones, sometimes play “secret” shows that aren’t widely advertised.
2. The Lexington
Rock out into the early hours at The Lexington, a pub in Islington that mixes a buzzy British bar atmosphere with a distinct American flavour. Up-and-coming bands often make their London debut at the upstairs venue, cheered on by a crowd sipping on Kentucky bourbon and American craft beers.
3. Strongroom Bar
When a bar has an attached recording studio that’s heard the likes of the Spice Girls, Bjork and S Club 7, you know the music is going to be top notch. Parties at the Strongroom Bar are legendary and often pour outside into the largest beer garden in Shoreditch. You might even get to experience an impromptu session from bands working in the studios.
4. MOTH Club
Gracing the stage below a shimmering gold ceiling, indie rock bands get the crowd going in MOTH Club’s atmospheric space that was once a servicemen’s members club – the acronym in the name stands for Memorable Order of Tin Hats. Original decor still hangs on the walls, and a handful of booths line the side of the small dancefloor.
5. The Betsey Trotwood
Discover The Betsey Trotwood which claims to be London’s smallest live music venue, with seats for just 25 people. The pub usually plays host to solo acts in the upstairs acoustic room, though bigger bands have squeezed in and packed out the gig space in the cellar too.
6. The Black Heart
Expect sounds ranging from rock and indie to punk and metal at The Black Heart. Tucked down a back alley near Camden Town Tube station, this much-loved live music pub sees bands rocking out in the upstairs venue. Grab a pint in the ground-floor pub before the show, where music memorabilia covers the walls.
7. Cafe OTO
Jam the night away at Cafe OTO, which puts on live music every night of the week. In keeping with Dalston’s hip atmosphere, Cafe OTO provides space for more experimental artists and music outside the mainstream. It also has an in-house record store with a huge range of genres, including titles from their own recently launched record label.
Get into the groove at 229, a multi-purpose space near Regent’s Park that puts on rock gigs, club nights and weekend-long festivals. Acts that have appeared on stage include Kings of Leon, Florence and the Machine, and Foals.
Set inside a former cinema, Scala has a huge floor area that's anchored by a low stage and plenty of space to dance. Nine Inch Nails, Kaiser Chiefs, Sonic Youth and Foo Fighters have all wowed the crowds here, and even if there isn’t a big name on the schedule, the venue regularly plays host to live music during the week and weekend club nights.
10. Electric Ballroom
Check out the lineup at Electric Ballroom, which specialises in rock music but plays host to a wide variety of gig nights and events. When there’s not live music on the roster, you can expect rock and alternative club nights or the lively “Massaoke” evenings of crowd-participation karaoke.
11. The Social
Despite being a short walk from the streets of Oxford Circus, The Social feels less like a busy club and more like a friend’s party, if your friends can reel in Bon Iver, Kate Tempest, Jack White, Wolf Alice and The Charlatans, that is. Upstairs you can find intimate acoustic gigs, while the larger downstairs area sees sold-out DJ nights and live shows.
12. The Dublin Castle
The loud indie rock music rarely stops at The Dublin Castle in Camden, where Amy Winehouse was a regular. Four live bands take the stage every night, and this pub has been an important proving ground for dozens of now well-known groups. The Killers, Arctic Monkeys, Blur and Coldplay have all rocked out here.
13. The Shacklewell Arms
Pass through the pub and head to the back room of The Shacklewell Arms to listen to rising bands that might just be the next big hit. Ticket prices are low, and some nights are completely free, so you can enjoy a range of musical genres from live bands, carried on by a DJ into the afterparty.
14. The Underworld
Venture down to the basement of The World’s End pub in Camden to find The Underworld – a haven for alt music lovers for decades. Plenty of rock royalty have performed in the 500-capacity space, including The Cranberries, The Offspring, Placebo, Radiohead, Sheryl Crow, Smashing Pumpkins and many more big names.
Head to the small streets behind Flat Iron Square to find Omeara, a cavernous bar in the railway arches that gives a platform to promising new bands. Mumford & Sons’ Ben Lovett is the brainchild behind the project, which also has a terrace with views of The Shard and Southwark Cathedral.