Brixton Windmill is an official venue for Independent Venue Week, a nationwide celebration running 25-31 January. We sent Windmill virgin Yush Kalia along on Tuesday night for the takeover by neighbouring Brixton Hill Studios to see what he thought of this classic music pub. Photos by Holly Whitaker.
This is the first time I’ve ventured to the Windmill Brixton, and it was everything you’d hope from an established, local live music venue: down-to-earth, with a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
Off the beaten track in Blenheim Gardens, the Windmill houses both the regulars who sit and watch the game on one side, and an eclectic mix of music lovers who fill the far end of the main room. The bands are located in the corner and have a good system to suit the cosy environment.
Taking the stage first, Stephen Evens, a musician who enjoys focusing on the darker side of life, channeling his bitterness and human insights into his material. The song ‘My Sister’ which as you can imagine, was a quirky ditty about his sister, got people moving, giggling away.
In between acts, I took a stroll around the pub and found a beer garden, and a weird outdoor room, which may have been a garage at one point, filled with sofas, and a TV. Clearly, a well used space for smokers and the pub characters who will happily share with you their thoughts on almost anything. Which they did.
As the pub filled up, so did the temperature – thankfully, the bar staff are quick and friendly, and the wide range of beers helped take the edge off.
Next up was William Derek Drake formerly of UK rock band Cardiacs. As well as being a member of a host of other bands, he’s also a soloist with his album ‘Revere Reach’ which was released last year. He kicked off with ‘Teddy Bear’s Picnic’, probably the strangest thing I’ve heard being sung in a pub, but there you go. The crowd was happy, so give the people what they want.
Up last, and clearly the main draw given the size of the crowd that bolted to the front of the pub was Martin Creed and his band. For those not in the know, Martin has been creating music since the 90s, but is better known as a visual artist, having picked up the Turner Prize back in 2001. Working through their set, the crowd loved it.
Although the music wasn’t quite my thing, it didn’t really matter as it created a happy vibe, and got people moving. If you’re up for a night out with pals, listening to live music and relaxing in an unpretentious pub, then you couldn’t do better than a pint at the Windmill.