After the initial controversy that our preview of The Garage’s revamp brought, it would be silly for us to not investigate further.
The long standing music venue has been cleaned up and given a new lick of paint. Perched on the corner of Highbury, the live music venue has housed some impressive shows since opening in 1993- Green Day, Artic Monkeys and Radiohead to name a few. Now, the DHP family (Borderline, Rock City) hope to continue the legacy and bring something a little extra to the table.
Frosty blue neon lights now replace the weathered sign and serves as a beacon to music fans. But what stands out more than the shadowy venue entrance is the new additional bar- The General Store. It’s a mint green all-day bar serving up coffee and cocktails. Soup cans and cornflake packets are filled with alcoholic concoctions while the room is filled with the smell of coffee and responsible mornings. This is all, no doubt, to catch the thousands of commuters that pass by here every day. But for evening dwellers like us, the fridge full of craft beer is the only appeal at The General Store.
The Store is connected to the venue by a small corridor that leads on to the stairs. I escape through into the main area. I’m surprise by how it looks virtually unchanged, apart from the bar which now sports huge industrial looking lights. But almost everything is in the same place; the stage, the bar and the toilets but have been given a good scrub. And what used to be a sticky Armageddon, is now a pristine dance floor.
The taps are all replaced and running with your classic cider and beer options. The back bar boasts of Woodford Reserve, and other good spirits. Everything in this area is thankfully not served up in the empty kitchen cupboard packets but in frat-boy-style red plastic cups. Following suit of many music venues, the stocked bar is pretty standard with no frills – which is what you need when listening to a band. DHP have also notably installed a new sound system, but tonight, no bands are playing to give us a taster.
Whilst we drink, many begin reminiscing of the bands they have seen here before the renovation. For me, it reminds me of my obliterated student nights spent passed out in the arms of my equally drunk room mate. Though the floors may not retain the feel of being subjected to a large Bukkake party any more, The Garage still chimes with memories plus we’re all grateful that the place is still open and surviving the live music venue storm.
After several ciders and cigarettes, I head upstairs to the smaller bar area called Thousand Island. Pink is everywhere. Sparkly pink strips line the wall and plush velvet curtains the stage. What looks like tin foil covers the ceiling and silver balls float above our head. It looks like Barbie has vomited all over the place. This is the area which will house DJ nights and fortunately can be avoided on a visit to see a band.
Like The General Store, Thousand Island seems like a separate entity that is designed for a different type of crowd. I’m glad that the main venue has been spared the pink glitz or the mint retro style of the other rooms. With a new sound system in place, The Garage should still serve as a treasured music venue. If the pink glitter and sparkles are avoided, The Garage is still the same as it ever was, apart from that new shiny floor… and one metal gig will soon fix that.