Grooves: Lafayette; Little Simz; Round Your House
22 May, 2020 — By Róisín Gadelrab
THE day after the last Grooves column was published two months ago, pubs and bars were ordered to shut and music venues inevitably followed. As if things hadn’t been difficult enough before, since lockdown, venue owners have been faced with a situation that threatens their very existence. Many have sought alternative ways of keeping the show on the road, while making plans and lining up gigs for their eventually reopening. Even as restrictions are relaxed, there are many challenges to face, not least how a venue can be sustainable while ensuring audiences are distanced, inevitably reducing capacity – but they won’t always be insurmountable. As one industry insider observed, if he only put on sold-out gigs, his venue would rarely have opened. Most bands vividly remember the day they played to one man and his dog – often a telling moment. While that may not bring in the funds to cover a venue’s costs, the next gig may well do. Times are tough and the venues have huge challenges ahead of them, but it’s not over yet.
• ONE such venue fighting back is Lafayette London, which had barely opened before pubs were ordered to close. Founder Mumford and Son’s Ben Lovett aimed to keep the venue sustainable, not only relying on gig income but opening a food court, pub and rigging out the venue so it could host live streamed gigs. No doubt his foresight will assist with reviving the venue in due course. A number of gigs have been rescheduled, with Black Lips the first, slated for July 15, no doubt subject to current restrictions and the return of Camden band Tribes on December 19. Seven years after they split up, the band has announced a one-off charity reunion gig in aid of refugee charity Choose Love and to celebrate the 10th album of debut album Baby.
• ISLINGTON’S Little Simz has turned her initial struggles into something more positive, writing and recording EP Drop 6 entirely in lockdown. Fighting through struggles, complaints from a new neighbour and the temptation to give up, Simz kicked herself, shook it off and completed the EP, releasing it earlier this month. “After serious procrastination I decided to stop being a lil bitch and cry baby and knuckle down on the EP,” she said, adding: “This is a turbulent time but we don’t fold. We don’t come from that. We will always be fine.”
• NOT one to rest on its laurels, the Roundhouse has reinvented itself with Round Your House, a series of online resources, podcasts and more to keep the Roundhouse spirit going. For young people that its studios they’ve put together a pack including free Adobe Creative Cloud, tech support, guidance and online round table discussions. For everyone else, visit the website to see podcasts from the Transmission Roundhouse team, an online Songwriter’s Circle, weekly takeovers from resident artists and more.