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Gig venue The Garage to start selling coffee, food and craft beer ‘because bands find it too grotty’

PUBLISHED: 11:58 19 December 2016 | UPDATED: 12:36 19 December 2016

Suede perform at the Garage in 2013. Picture: Ed Webster/Flickr/Creative Commons licence CC BY 2.0

Suede perform at the Garage in 2013. Picture: Ed Webster/Flickr/Creative Commons licence CC BY 2.0

Archant

It’s one of the UK’s iconic toilet venues for up-and-coming rock bands.

How The Garage's new ground floor interior will look. Gigs and club nights will be upstairs. Picture: Kapranos PRHow The Garage's new ground floor interior will look. Gigs and club nights will be upstairs. Picture: Kapranos PR

But a huge revamp means The Garage is moving upmarket. As well as gigs, it will also become a “daytime coffee spot” that is proud of its range of craft beer and cocktails.

Since replacing Town and Country II at the same premises in 1993, The Garage, across the road from Highbury and Islington station, has hosted some of the biggest names in rock – among them the Arctic Monkeys, Oasis, Muse and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

But DHP Family, the concert venue promoter which purchased The Garage this year, claims the venue is now so grotty that bands don’t want to play there any more.

After a club night on New Year’s Eve, it will shut until February next year for the refurbishment to take place.

The Garage in Holloway Road. Picture: Google StreetViewThe Garage in Holloway Road. Picture: Google StreetView

Ed Lilo, DHP’s head of venue programming, promised: “The heart and soul will always be music concerts and club nights at the weekends.

“But this is our opportunity to overhaul all elements, from the sound system to presentation, turning it into a world class venue that Islington deserves.

“It looks scruffy from the outside, no one would disagree with that. But we are working on lots of different parts of it. We want to make every element more positive, such as a better beer selection and food offering.”

Of its legacy on the toilet circuit, Mr Lilo was unapologetic: “It’s one of the most famous venues in London. Its heritage is incredible. But arguably, it has been neglected for a while.

Suede live at the Garage in 2013. Picture: Ed Webster/Flickr/Creative Commons CC BY 2.0Suede live at the Garage in 2013. Picture: Ed Webster/Flickr/Creative Commons CC BY 2.0

“I would like you to find someone who likes The Garage in its current state. We’re in a situation now where artists won’t play, because of how the venue looks and how it has been treated.

“Something has to be done, otherwise customers won’t want to go.”

There is one feature of the exterior that the new owners will want to hang on to. A Performing Rights Society plaque is mounted just above head height commemorating the venue as the site of rave music legends Orbital’s first gig in 1989 – albeit back in its Town and Country II days.


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