Hipster culture has been known to take things a bit far. When you call a gingerbread man a ‘Gender-neutral gingerbread figure’ you know you’ve got a problem. So when we heard that cult publication and hipster Bible ‘VICE’ not only owned, but managed their very own venue (in Shoreditch of all places) we had visions of monocles, parked-up penny farthings and a ‘vegan-only’ entry notice. Imagine our surprise when we encountered a modest but lively bar/pub offering a menu of unusual lagers and ciders with free live music a full seven nights a week. Not a penny farthing in sight. The Old Blue Last is instead a charming and well-loved East London watering hole known city-wide to get the party well and truly ‘turnt’. That was a DJ Snake reference, but like, you’ve probably never heard of him. *looks away dismissively, flicking floppy fringe* His earlier stuff was way better.
The OBL building has been kicking around for yeeears. We’re talking: 16th century, Shakespeare used to go here, used to be a bleedin’ brothel kind of ‘years’. 317 to be precise. Having been put through a load of major facelifts and rebrands in its time, The OBL is now a live music venue-come-pub bringing some the most forward-thinking bands and Djs to the forefront for our viewing pleasure. And do you know what? More often than not, it’s all completely bloomin’ free. They don’t even operate cover charges. Like, wuuut? What is this strange Twilight Zone we have stumbled upon? The OBL have also recently extended, having built a whole new room onto the venue in 2010 during a particularly hefty refurb. In for a penny, in for a pound though it seems - also replacing both bars, extending the dance floor and bringing in a brand new state of the art sound system.. And still no entry charge!
Music: Live, Acoustic, Indie, Rock, Electro, Alt
Dress Code: None
Train Station: Shoreditch High Street
Address: The Old Blue Last, 38 Great Eastern Street, London, EC2A 3ES
The OBL is a haven for people with even the slightest of musical tendencies. With 2 floors often holding parallel sets from DJs downstairs and bands upstairs, the music policy here is surprisingly varied. You can expect Indie nights, Hip Hop and DnB events, Punk, Rock or Electro evenings - it’s all go at the OBL. Acts like Amy Winehouse, Disclosure, Hot Chip, Klaxons, AlunaGeorge, Florence and the Machine, Foals, Mumford and Sons and Tempa T have all graced the stage here creating high-octane party vibes that are out of this world. Drinks are all very reasonably priced too, with a great selection of draughts (including Leffe, Staropramen, Stella, Guinness plus) and bottled beers on offer. Spirits/mixer combos such as your run-of-the-mill G&Ts start out around the £3.50 mark and stay fairly low across the board. Are we missing something here? Are we going to get an invoice through the door or something?
Known by Time Out to be a ‘Mecca for Shoreditch’s twentysomething trendies’, The OBL is always bursting at the rafters on Friday, Saturdays and Sundays so is the ideal spot for getting wild with the cool kids. On weeknights, the vibe is somewhat different- a little more low-key for winding down after work. They’ve definitely retained the essence of the traditional pub, which is great, complete with that familiar scent of mahogany and craft beer. There’s an added air of excitement though, a bit like backstage post-gig or that festival-esque freedom to do whatever you please. People downstairs make for a flow of friendly banter by the barside but heading upstairs is where all the action is to be found. Oh yes, hold onto your achingly cool porkpie hat, as upstairs sheer carnage ensues nightly, this level boasting the power to turn any gig into a beer-soaked, freak out, dance party. We also love that the door policy embraces people from all walks of life - none of this ‘face-control policy’ stuff that some poncy, higher end venues go for. Wear whatever you like - it’s all love here. Even naff nan jumpers will look cool in this context.
The trouble with pubs is that they can get kind of dull. The trouble with trendy bars is that they tend to be quite cold and on occasion, a little uptight. The OBL is the perfect middle-terrain between your traditional, cosy pub and your intriguing but inherently cool bar, loaded with events and appearances to keep it fresh and high-spirited. The Old Blue is a Shoreditchian institution, and we can certainly see why, immersing you in a euphoric underworld of future trends and budding musical talents. The OBL is hipster, sure, but only in the sense that it keeps up with what’s hot, bringing people exactly what they want, when they want it. So in that sense, we must commend them on knocking this ‘hospitality’ malarkey right out of the park and say we guess we’ll see you there then. We’ll have to catch you up though. Bloody penny farthing.