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10 artists who played at King’s before they were famous

SPENDING at least one night under the omnipresent gaze of the giant Desmond Tutu head on the fourth floor of the Macadam building was almost a rite of passage back when Tutu’s was our very own student nightclub.

Its closure as a live music and club venue in the summer of 2013 not only saw the end of Des’ dance floor reign, but the end of a long tradition of live music at King’s.

In fact, Taylor Swift, Arcade Fire and the Foo Fighters all played their first ever UK gigs at the now closed Tutu’s nightclub in the Macadam building at Strand.

Oh, and The Smiths played King’s and tickets were £2.50 but I’ll try not to get too upset about the fact that I wasn’t born yet. Here are some of the best:

1. Taylor Swift, 2008


Before her lyrics about ex-boyfriends became a who’s who of Hollywood leading men, Taylor Swift brought her brand of country-pop to Surrey Street.

Now she’s a Grammy award-winning, four-time multiplatinum-album-maker who can break the internet just by wearing a t-shirt that says ‘no its becky’.


2. Arcade Fire, 2005

Three words: BJORK WAS HERE. ICYMI they just headlined Glastonbury.


3. Macklemore, 2012


I’ma take your grandpa’s style, I’MA TAKE YOUR GRANDPA’S STYLE.

Macklemore no doubt proved his lyrical prowess by showing that “broken keyboard” does in fact rhyme with “broken keyboard”.


4. Vampire Weekend, 2009


Before the release of their second album, Contra, the New Yorkers came to Tutu’s to sing their songs about ‘post-hippie domesticity and the tenuous connection between preppiness and colonialism.’

Now they’re popping bottles of champagne on New York rooftops, torching Saabs and holding debauched dystopian Last Supper-esque parties in their music videos.

Oh and they won a Grammy this year too.


5. Foals, 2007


This was back when  the Oxford quintet were still ‘math-rock’ and had just done that cameo in Skins, but hadn’t yet released their debut album and become the perennial soundtrack to student discos everywhere.

Oh and Bombay Bicycle Club supported them! Indie kudos!

Fast forward seven years and they’re selling out two nights at Ally Pally.


6. The Vaccines, 2011


The Vaccines brought their back-to-basics rock’n’roll to a sold out Tutu’s barely six months after singer Justin Young graduated from King’s with a degree in History. Food for thought for any budding musicians out there. Although I don’t know how good his dissertation was.

Two years later they sold out the O2 Arena.


7. HAIM, 2012


For those who came to see the California sister group expecting to hear the ‘80’s-pop sweetness of their recordings, their ability to put on a raucous live show filled with hell-fuzz guitar solos, hypnotic facial gurning, crude stage banter and a climax of flailing hair and limbs as they pounded their drums in thunderous unison came as quite a surprise.

Less than a year later their album went to number one in the UK.

On a related note: MmmBoppers Hanson played a five-night residency here in 2011. I’ve no idea why


8. Foo Fighters, 1995

In their first show outside of North America, frontman Dave Grohl allegedly paused the gig after two songs to address the rumours that his lyrics were about Kurt Cobain. They weren’t, apparently.

Now, they’ve sold over 30 million records.


9. The Smiths, 1983


Yup, this happened. They played their ‘new record’ This Charming Man. And, allegedly, the gig ended with a stage invasion.


10. All the bands your dad likes (and you probably secretly like too)

Other bands who played the illustriously titled ‘multi-purpose hall’ at King’s before Tutu’s was a ‘thing’ include The Stranglers, The Fall, Status Quo and The Police.


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