The Wig & Gown, 99 Holloway Rd, London N7 8LT
After a short walk down Holloway Road from Highbury & Islington Station, I stumble upon one of London’s many ‘alternative bars’, The Wig and Gown- Beer and Burger Kitchen. Placed amidst the usual Holloway Road run-down restaurants, bookies, chicken shops and local supermarkets, this large Victorian style building with its black, glossy paintwork is very apposite. The large double doors reveal the blood-red interior and the walls display an array of film posters with a collage of bands ranging from Iron Maiden, Metallica, The Who and um… Slipknot?!
Upon entering the near-empty bar, the familiar smell of stale beer and old carpet fusion is apparent and somewhat welcoming, mirrored in the cheeriness of the barman (a nice change to the usual miserable sods you get in most metal bars) who kindly asks me what I’d like. I want to urge him “…to take that god awful Slipknot poster off the wall!”, but instead I remain quiet and take a Brewdog Punk IPA. I move to one of the nearest dingy corners near a lonesome ‘rocker’ who compliments me on my Scorpions T-shirt.
Looking around, I notice a screen on the wall airing Scuzz TV – a channel I wasn’t aware people still watched or even that it existed any more. I distract myself by trying to locate the burger menu- it turns out that there isn’t one and there are currently no burgers being served (strange for a bar and burger kitchen). So, I check out the booze selection instead. Although the bar doesn’t have much to offer in terms of draught beers and ales, it is pleasing to see a fully stocked fridge supporting the Rock ‘n’ Roll alcoholic beverage business. The Wig and Gown have a range of Motörhead beers on offer as well as the band’s branded vodka and whiskey. Additionally, you can crack yourself open a bottle of Status Quo’s ‘Dog of Two Head’ premium ale, Iron Maiden’s Trooper ale or choose from a variety of other drinks made by bands including AC/DC, Queen and Slayer. If you’re not feeling any of this, The Wig and Gown also have the usual cabinet of desires which includes everything from the standard Stella Artois to Strongbow to Jager Bombs and Jack Daniels.
The Wig and Gown’s flyer states that they welcome “London’s rockers, punks, headbangers, boppers, vagabonds, pirates, vikings, centurions, and the socially maladjusted.” Their Facebook page also adds “No chavs allowed!” – something which I’m guessing does not come into practise when match day comes around the nearby Arsenal stadium. Although The Wig and Gown’s good intentions might be to bring everyone in the ‘alternative’ scene together in one bar, it doesn’t work. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone in the alternative scene are one big happy family. And that feeling that has never been as strong as right now, as I am forced to observe a group of Scuzzy, angsty teenagers throwing the devil horns (and their salted peanuts) at one another.
The potential for The Wig and Gown is certainly there, it just has to find its niché. It is the perfect location for pre and after show parties for gigs, what with it being a very short walk from the Relentless Garage. It has a good selection of booze and is a nice little venue, perfect for themed DJ nights and small gigs. With smarter promotion, targeting the correct audience or even adding a jukebox to the wall- The Wig and Gown could thrive as much as other Punk, Rock and Metal bars in London- but that’s if the dreaded infamous upstairs neighbour doesn’t complain!
Average Price of A Pint: £4
Opening Times: Monday – Thursday 12.00 – 23.00
Friday – Saturday 12.00-01.00
Average Price Of A Pint: £4 // Opening Times Mon-Thurs: 12:00 - 23:00 Fri-Sat: 12:00 - 01:00