Carling Brixton Academy, 211 Stockwell Road, SW9 9SL (map) (layout)
Tel: 020 7771 3000
Nearest Tube : Brixton
Best pub for a pre-gig drink: The Dogstar or Ivan's Retreat
The Academy is: An E-Type jaguar
Interesting fact: The video for Billy Ocean's "When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going", was filmed at the Brixton Academy; Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny De Vito all attended the shoot.
How far from Brixton Tube is it? Come out, turn right, walk five minutes walk down the road and take the third road on your left, you can't miss it.
Is there a cloakroom? Yes, upstairs, queues can be quite bad at the end of a gig.
Should I get there early? No real need to rush. Headliners usually come on at 9:30. If you get there early you could have a drink in the bar upstairs, which is usually marginally quieter than the bar downstairs. The great thing is if you are standing there are good views from everywhere, and you can usually find a way to the front if you are persistent.
Is there anywhere to eat nearby? The Dogstar does very good Mexican food, try their burritos. There is a KFC and a McDonalds a few minutes left out of the tube station, or the bargain basement Speedy Noodles opposite the tube, which is to Wagamamas what Netto is to Harrods.
User Reviews (1)
Guide to the Brixton Academy
Brixton's Carling Academy is the grand old lady of London's rock venues. As well as attracting top names (in the last two years Bob Dylan, Beastie Boys, Arctic Moneys) the Academy regularly wins awards such as NME's venue of the year.
Entering Brixton Academy and heading through the foyer there are stairs up to the seated balconies to your left and right (I'd recommend standing at the Academy for a better gig experience, so be careful when you buy your tickets to avoid the Circle). Through a double door to the left lies the main bar area where there are also toilets. This is a nice area to chill out before the gig, but it does get packed out during performances with long queues for the toilets and bar. It is often quicker to queue at one of the four bars inside the main standing area, from where you can also make sure you don't miss any of the gig thanks to the superb sloping floor that offers views from everywhere.
The main standing area is where it all happens. It doesn't really matter where you stand, you'll have a good view, which makes for a stress-free gig experience. The Art Deco balconies above the stage and statues to the side are a nice touch, and looking up at the black ceiling sometimes gives the impression you are watching a performance in an outdoor theatre.
The Beastie Boys' recent two-night stint here was a sell-out, but pushing forward we managed to get an excellent spot close to the front. Don't be put off by the crowds, it is often less congested the further you get to the front as many don't like to commit to moving forward.
Once near the front there is even a short cut to the bar on your right and left - head out to the sides and take the steps up to a corridor running towards the back. This means you don't have to fight your way through the crowds. There are also toilets down at the front, although you will have to decide which side to stand on - the ladies' are on the right as you look at the stage, with the men's on the left.
Brixton Academy deserves its reputation as one of London's best venues. Despite its size the sloping floor means you get a great view from pretty much anywhere. The PA System is fantastic (you will leave with ringing ears), the viewing ideal, but what really makes this place is the atmosphere; the crowd at Brixton always seem up for it, and performers seem to respond to the history and atmosphere as well which is what makes for so many memorable performances.
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I saw the Arctic Monkeys here back in 2006, it was one of the best nights of my life. Fantastic band, wonderful venue. 9/10
View from the Brixton Academy stage
The Beastie Boys at Brixton
Good views from wherever you stand
The seating upstairs at the Brixton Academy
Art Deco furnishings at the Brixton Academy
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