Legends are normally a long time in the making. Think of legendary music venues and names like the Hacienda, Marquee and Cavern spring to mind for the key role they played in nascent bands' careers. However, in each case the passing of the years has only served to heap more mystery on the already epoch-making gigs to which they bore witness. It's no mean achievement then, that in a few short years the Barfly has earned a status which ranks it alongside these illustrious names from the past.
It wasn't always so. The beginnings, in a pub on the outskirts of Camden in late 1996, were as humble as the subsequent years have been impressive. In those early days the stench of the less than salubrious toilets would have been enough to put off even the most hardened gig-goer, had it not been for the quality of music pounding out from the PA in the Falcon's dark, dingy back room. But soon-to-be-big bands were, from day one, a key ingredient, bringing with them an endless line of discerning music fans. Stereophonics played several times in their early, formative years, as did the likes of Death in Vegas, Feeder, Coldplay, Muse, Doves and… just about any other band who've tasted success in the last five years! As London listings magazine Time Out put it, Barfly was (and still is) firmly established as THE place to go to "glimpse the stars of the future". Even Noel Gallagher (never a man to mince his words!) was moved to comment that Barfly was " Ten years ahead of anybody 's time".
A move, in March 2000, to the Monarch, a few hundred yards away at the other end of Camden, has only served to make things better, the larger venue allowing even more music fans to cram inside. If a visit to the toilets no longer leaves one urgently seeking out for the nearest medical facility, still the expectant, electrified atmosphere of the place is the same as its always been. More so, if anything. Since the move, Barfly has played host to, amongst others, The Strokes, The Vines, Starsailor, Wheatus, Elbow, The Cooper Temple Clause and The Electric Soft Parade, not to mention being the main venue for filming of the still-talked-about Barfly Sessions TV series (which included the likes of Coldplay, Muse, JJ72 and Badly Drawn Boy). Not that big names are what the Barfly is exclusively about. A policy of nurturing new talent has always been key to the ethos, with a total of some 1000 plus bands passing through the venue each and every year. Not all will make it big, of course, but all who play have passed a stringent quality control process before being allowed the opportunity to perform on the hallowed stage, ensuring that, even if the names are unfamiliar, the 50,000 customers a year will be guaranteed one thing - quality music.