Personally speaking, the Windmill Brixton is synonymous with grey days. If I know I will be at the Windmill later that week I can expect rain with the precision of a meteorologist. I can count on the slightly too long walk from Brixton tube station before taking the right onto Blenheim Gardens to be a very wet and miserable one. I should clarify that this association says nothing about the character of the institution. But more so to my strange luck, or my propensity to martyr myself to every gig I can get to whatever the weather.
According to Wikipedia: ‘The Windmill is a pub and live music venue in Brixton, London, England with a reputation for championing new music’. This reputation maintains to this day, as The Windmill can always be counted on to provide the public with innovative and interesting acts six days a week. The guidelines set for playing at the Windmill value originality, quality, and musicians are often featured due to recommendations and are picked from a large body of local acts. Therefore, if you have a friend who is playing first, or who is lusting after the front woman of the 10:30 act, you will probably enjoy all of the artists performing that night. Genre-wise, as a venue, the Windmill does not limit itself: in a scene of alternative and local music, you can find nights ranging from punk to jazz to midi synth-pop.
Despite being a well-known location in London’s music scene, it is rare that the occasion ever feels too commodified or the audience too contrived. The namesake for the location is taken from an actual windmill that was built opposite the building. And up until 2015, there was even a covert dog who lived on the roof of the low-hanging building, a somewhat cult feature that led to the sales of ‘I Believe in Roof Dog’ t-shirts. Although the venue has been critically lauded and is considered one of the best in the UK, the general vibe of the place remains very local and authentic. I think that for every time I have paid the £3 entry fee for a night, the same person has collected my change, and similarly the same rotation of people have been behind the bar- it is a place of consistency. The space itself can cram about 150 people and there is a large smoking and barbecue area in the back as well as a roofed smoking area, which I have lovingly referred to as a gas chamber on many occasions!
If there is a band you are following in London or if you are looking for a candlelit night which is sure to feel laid-back, perhaps somewhat eccentric, and involving an interesting range of new music, the Windmill is definitely the location for you. Also do not be put off by the opening of my article, it is very possible that the very day you walk from Brixton station to Blenheim Gardens, the sun will be shining and the birds tweeting…