Features Leytonstone

Bringing the buzz back

A music festival and a clubbing collective are set to turn up the volume in Leytonstone this summer. Marco Marcelline finds out what they have planned

The Underdog Collective’s launch weekend at the Red Lion, Credit: Jordan Noon

Festival programmer Simon Singleton is trying to bring the buzz back to Leytonstone. Key to achieving that is his festival Shake The High Road which returns after a five year hiatus on Saturday 4th May.

Boasting more than 20 live artists and DJs spanning a multitude of genres, as well as a series of special talks and interviews, the festival’s selling point is that it is spread across five Leytonstone venues within a few minutes walk from each other.

“People instinctively head out of town on a Friday night. We need to bring that buzz to Leytonstone back,” he says.

The eclectic line-up so far includes Nathan Fake, Daudi Matsiko, Deptford Northern Soul Club, Donna Thompson, Wrongtom meets The Ragga Twins, Alena Arpels, Minor Conflict, Vanity  Fairy, and Walthamstow Rock ‘n’ Roll Book Club.

Who is his dream headliner? “My plan would be if I can grow this festival enough, and bring in enough investment, I would love to get [Leytonstone bred] Damon Albarn in,” he laughs.

Dele Sosimi Afrobeat Orchestra playing at Shake The High Road in 2017, Credit: Simon Singleton/STHR

The fact that Luna (one of the venues that will host gigs at Shake The High Road) could f/ace closure is a key example of how nightlife is struggling not just in Waltham Forest but across the capital. However, as Simon is keen to point out, there is positive news worth celebrating.


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Just down the High Road at the Red Lion pub, a collective of four promoters are working to restore the pub’s iconic ballroom which in its heyday hosted acts such as The Who,

Genesis, and Hawkwind. The Underdog Collective has already run several nights at the Red Lion, and on 15th June, it will run a punk rock all-dayer called Day of the Dog.

There’s a deep need for local live music spaces, Underdog member Charlie Longman points out, adding: “Times are bloody tough and people just need to let go in a safe environment.”

The Underdog Collective is seeking to give a platform to local talent as much as possible, Credit: Jordan Noon

Charlie says Leytonstone has the potential to be a destination for live music in London, given the vast array of local talent, both famous and not-so-famous that has been cultivated here. What’s lacking though is the space for musicians to perform their music and build their craft, he explains.

The idea isn’t for E11 to be a carbon copy of other East London nightlife centres like Hackney, Shoreditch and Dalston though.

“Government funded graffiti and hipsters in berets won’t solve the problem. It’ll be great if people come here [from across London and beyond] but there needs to be some sort of compromise with the people who live here – and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

To find out more visit: shakethehighroad.com, Instagram: @redlione11


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