Subculture Uncovered

The Windmill, Brixton

Tuesday 28th November 2017

The Windmill, Brixton

With its multi-ethnic cultural roots, its mural, become shrine, to one-time resident David Bowie, and Electric Avenue (that is the actual Electric Avenue Eddie Grant sang about) Brixton’s music connections are well known and thoroughly ingrained into the culture and counterculture of London and Britain.

With the threat of gentrification and corporatisation of venues sweeping across areas in London and the rest of the country, it’s reassuring to hear about a grassroots Brixton venue that is continuing to thrive, with Time Out calling it the third best live venue in London and even drawing comparisons to legends such as CBGBs.

With its unglamorous post-mid-century exterior, The Windmill in Brixton takes its name from an actual Windmill that once laboured opposite the pub’s address. You would be forgiven for missing it in its back street locale, but this 150 capacity pub with cheap entry and cheap beer has proved itself a hot-spot for nurturing independent talent.

Its listings put Punk Rock Barbecues and Northern Soul nights next to bands you might have heard of and a lot that you probably haven't - yet.

Bands and artists such as Goat Girl, Fat White Family and Cosmo Pyke can be spotted in the audiences as well as on the stage in what has become a hub of contemporary counterculture. The ethos is one that seems to share the spirit of London's punk lineage when venues such as The 100 Club were the underground dwelling for the emerging movement.

"The windmill is 100% at the forefront of finding amazing bands and putting on great shows. Tim Perry is a passionate promoter who cares deeply about the artists he books and making the nights a success. Always a pleasure to play and be a part of what truly is a rare gem of a venue."
- Matt and Dan of Milk Disco

Since being built in 1971, the pub has seen its clientele change. As with many boozers, its regular crowd varied over the years leading up to its current lease of life, attracting the biker community for a while, before the 1990s brought DJ culture along and eventually live music. Early successes included secret gigs by the likes of Calexico and ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, and before long the list of alumni included The Horrors, Los Campesinos, Klaxons, The View, Metronomy, Micachu and Noah & The Whale to name just a few.

Bringing things up to date Tim Perry's booking is still as impressive as ever, reflecting the brimming resurgence of DIY ethics and independent music pitting itself against the homogenous mainstream pop and landfill indie that so many people have become bored of hearing about.

"The windmill is a really welcoming and refreshing venue, one I didn’t know about before moving to London. It hosts so much new talent, but some of the most exciting I have seen there recently have come from: Suitman Jungle, Sistertalk, Milk Disco and Nervous Conditions."
- Grace Goslin, The Femme Collective

As well as its line-ups there are other unique quirks that make The Windmill special, similar to the way that a village pub's character might become celebrated by its local regulars. One such quirk was the legendary 'Roof Dog', a Rottweiler owned by the tenant of the flat above the pub that would prowl around the pub's roof until its death in 2015. The endearing dog's passing prompted grief-stricken messages from bands that included The Vaccines and led to the venue naming its own branded beer 'Roof Dog'.

"The Windmill is a fetid mecca for all those who worship at the altar of fresh noise... it is not a pot of gold at the rainbow's end, but Roof Dog and Tim Perry's eyebrows. Paul Of Sound is a modest diamond in a cave of carbon. The toilets are the point beyond sanity or sanitisation, and the only place I have ever had a halo..."
- Beth, Madonnatron

While communities across the UK wrestle with the ideas of redevelopment and gentrification and finding the fine balance that avoids what some see as urban decay but others experience as community cleansing, the Windmill is an exceptional example of a thriving authentic small venue. Whether it's providing a social platform for culture, benefiting local business by attracting gig-goers to the area, or raising funds for the upkeep of the actual windmill that stands opposite; The Windmill, Brixton has established itself as an important part of Brixton's community.


Find out more about The Windmill at www.windmillbrixton.co.uk

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