Two nights in Croydon

By - Thursday 8th March, 2018

As the Croydon nightlife debate continues, a look at contrasting turnouts for consecutive weekend gigs at the Scream Lounge

The Witchdoktors headlined a sell out gig at Croydon’s Scream Lounge.
Photo author’s own.

The gig organiser’s life is not a happy one. Loads of work to do to get a line up sorted, and always there is the underlying question: ‘will paying customers come to the gig?’.

I think that a lot of it comes down to knowing the audience, and how strong the followings of bands are, but it’s all guesswork.

I went to two consecutive gigs at the Scream Lounge, and there was an enormous contrast in the attendances.

The February offering boasted an interesting lineup on paper

Joe Head and Mark Turner’s ‘Everyone Loves Our Town – Croyattle Grunge Nights’ are a monthly fixture at the Lounge. Made up of a mix of tribute bands and those who play in the style of the Seattle grunge scene, you know that you will be getting music that is either a faithful reproduction or at least a nod in the direction of Nirvana, Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, to name but a few.

The February offering boasted an interesting lineup on paper. Free Recovery, Cloud Dogs, Brothers In Chains and Green Lung. But all didn’t quite go to plan. Guildford’s Free Recovery had opted to open up with a three piece acoustic set, but family illnesses left bass player Paul to carry the set solo. With a mix of his own compositions, covers of Mother Love Bone favourites, and Free Recovery standards, it was a mighty effort and well received.

I’d noticed that the headline act, Green Lung, appeared to be double booked, and this proved to be the case, leaving Cloud Dogs and the now headlining Brothers In Chains to take up the slack. This was done in fine style, and everyone at the (admittedly sparsely attended) event went home happy.

Brothers In Chains rose to the task when they became the headline act on the grunge night.
Photo author’s own.

Fast forward seven days and classic hard rock band At The Sun opened up for The Weird Things and headline act, The Witchdoktors.

This mix of styles was in many ways similar to Richie Hudson’s Croydon Rocks Festival last year, and I wondered how many paying customers would be attracted.

Well, the Lounge was packed to capacity with latecomers having to be turned away.

At The Sun are gaining a good following, as the Scream Lounge gig showed.
Photo author’s own.

I’d seen At The Sun a few months back and they are building a big reputation on the rock scene. Hard hitting riffs, great solos, a thunderous bottom line and vocals in the grand style, they really hit the spot.

The Weird Things is a Scream Lounge fave. Redolent with punky style, tight riffs and never a note wasted, the expected high energy set was exactly that. There were great dance moves and a relentless beat that kept the rapidly swelling crowd on the move.

Scream Lounge favourites, The Weird Things, got the crowd up and dancing.
Photo author’s own.

It was clear that a sizeable number of ‘punters’ had come down specially to see The Witchdoktors and its brand of garagey-punk-abilly. Old enough to know better, but still not giving a damn, it was easy to see, and hear, why the band has built such a following.

We like feet on the floor in Croydon – these bands are welcome anytime.

So, two shows with widely differing attendances, and widely differing musical offerings.

Is Croydon still the punky heartland of the capital? Is hard rock surging back into mass popularity? Where do all the grunge aficionados go in the evenings?

The good news is that live gigs are coming thick and fast at the Scream Lounge. My message is to get down there – but make sure that you get there early to avoid disappointment!

Paul Dennis

Paul Dennis

Paul Dennis is the editor of Total Sea Fishing magazine, and moved to Croydon in 2011. An award-winning journalist, he has worked on angling titles for much of his career, including 16 years as deputy editor of Angler's Mail. A regular freelance contributor for a wide array of non-angling-related titles, author of two books on angling and a widely-followed authority on the subject, he's enjoying life as an adoptive Croydonian.

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