THE LEXINGTON ISLINGTON, LONDON
96-98 PENTONVILLE ROAD, LONDON, N1 9JB MATTHEW HALL, BOOKER/PROMOTER
HI, MATT! CAN YOU GIVE US A QUICK HISTORY OF THE VENUE?
“The place was built in 1850, but before we moved in it was a vodka bar.they used to have drum’n’bass parties until four in the morning, which you can imagine didn’t go down well with the neighbours! So we stripped everything back, soundproofed it and opened up in 2008. It’s called The Lexington because our downstairs bar specialises in bourbon, and Lexington is in [bourbon state] Kentucky.we actually used some of the earnings from the venue to create our own bourbon,whiskey Thief.”
THAT’S COOL! SO, BESIDES BEING KERRANG!’S LOCAL, HOW DO YOU THINK THE VENUE FITS INTO NORTH LONDON’S GIG SCENE?
“I always hope that we’re the venue people would like to play first.where it’s a nice buzzy night, they know the sound will be looked after and the audience is going to be great. It’s 200 capacity, so bands coming to the UK for the first time will come here, then they’ll hopefully move up to [nearby 1,145-capacity venue] Scala.”
AND WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR STAND-OUT SHOWS THERE?
“Some of the best are with bands like King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, where there’s seven of them on this small stage and it’s a bit ridiculous! We even had an orchestra of 20 people play and the brass section was in the DJ booth.when [late garage rocker] Jay Reatard played, he jumped off a speaker stack. Luckily, he didn’t squash anybody.”
YOU DO CLUB NIGHTS AS WELL – IS THAT NECESSARY IN 2017?
“I don’t think you can just be a gig venue in 2017 and get away with it easily. In London, people often go home after a gig is finished. If you’ve got a DJ, then a new crowd will turn up and they’ll spend four times more, because that’s their main event. But, that allows us to buy nice things for the bands – the PA is massively subsidised by having DJS on a Friday and Saturday.”
NICE. IN THE CURRENT ECONOMIC CLIMATE, WHAT CHALLENGES DO YOU FACE?
“The venue is upstairs so it’s not wheelchair-accessible.we do what we can carrying people upstairs, but planning-wise there’s only so much you can do with an 170-year-old building. But the biggest difficulties are business rates and rent. Last year our rent doubled, and then business rates came along and it was nearly quadrupling. It’s happening all around the country and venues aren’t exactly notorious for raking in pots of cash, so it’s the kind of thing that can put venues out of business.”
FINALLY, LOOKING TO THE FUTURE, WHAT HAVE YOU GOT IN THE WORKS?
“We’re fully-booked between now and next year, which is good for us. We always do a Newyear’s Eve party and a string of gigs between then and Christmas, which usually sell out and are great fun.then, in January we have outside promoters put on shows of the hot bands coming up. So it’s going
to be busy!”