Home of the Undercover Festival and Events, plus Punky Sunday Roasts, this is the Surrey suburbs' sterling small venue!
Tackling the pressing issue of the distressing closure of many small grassroots music venues, our new feature in Punktuation Mag aims to showcase many of these hidden gems!
“Johnny’s upstairs in his bedroom sitting in the dark, Annoying the neighbours with his punk rock electric guitar” sang The Members (from just up the road in Camberley) back in ’79, as they unleashed their biggest hit ‘The Sound of the Suburbs‘ upon a disenchanted suburban youth.. It’s fitting that The Holroyd adopted this moniker for its music venue, part of a public house on the outskirts of Guildford, Surrey.
Guildford’s best known rock band are of course The Stranglers, formed in drummer Jet Black‘s off-license The Jackpot in 1974. The town was also the birthplace of The Vapors, with The Jam from nearby Woking and Sham 69 from (slightly further north) Hersham adding to the area’s music credentials.
In 2017 the Suburbs venue was launched at the back of The Holroyd Arms on Aldershot Road. Quickly becoming popular by attracting big names such as The Members and The Vapors, as well as up and coming bands, hosting DJ nights and parties, all was going in the right direction – until the Covid lockdown at the start of 2020 stopped business.
Undeterred, owner Andy Hamilton- aka ‘Hillsy‘- used this time to complete a major refurbishment of the the pub and music venue, increasing capacity and improving the sound system.
Now the venue boasts a capacity of 300 people, with a good sized stage and an excellent sound system. The in-house engineers are experienced and helpful, and DJs have their own dedicated decks. The pub is very reasonably priced, with a great selection of beers, lagers and ciders, plus wines and spirits. There are also plenty of alcohol free drinks for the drivers, who can use the adjacent car park. Food is usually available, either from the pub kitchen or a hired trailer, and you don’t have to walk too far to find a couple of local takeaways and a Co-op.
Sports fans are catered for, with a big screen TV near the bar, and an outdoor screen sited in its own enclave in the large garden. If you’ve ever fancied a go at Axe Throwing, the on-site range is ready for you!! The outdoor area is a real bonus to the venue, with its own bar and plenty of seating which is well used in the warmer months, or when taking a breather from jumping around to a band!
With a full programme of musical events there’s definitely something for everyone in this venue. Recent bands include Ruts DC, The Trojan Beats, King Salami and the Cumberland 3, John Otway,
Jah Wobble and Menace. There are regular DJ nights, tribute bands, comedy nights and upcoming artist gigs.
For Punk fans The Undercover Festival is not to be missed – three afternoons and evenings of live music bringing together large and smaller bands. Organiser Mick Moriarty, who started the festival with Hillsy, told me “We’ve travelled about a bit since the first event in 2013, but now we’ve made it more intimate, unique and special. The festival and all of our 27 Undercover events this year are here. Hillsy has worked hard to make this one of the best live music venues in the south-east, in my opinion“.
Mick continues; “We’ve built up a reputation for putting on bloody good gigs! Wherever you stand in the venue you can see the stage, and there’s a real family atmopsphere. People come as strangers and leave as friends. We look after people, we don’t have trouble, and we keep our ticket prices as low as we can get away with. I think we offer great value! We try to bring through a lot of younger bands and new bands. The Sunday Roasts afternoons will feature a lot of bands we’ve not put on before, to bring them into the area“.
Also on site is a very convenient B&B for those travelling in for shows, which can be booked via the venue website. New attraction the Rage Room opens this month – giving you the opportunity to release your pent-up anger by ‘smashing it up’!
The friendly Punk family atmosphere at this venue is second to none, with multiple generations of music fans getting together to enjoy the bands playing here. The staff and regulars make newcomers feel very welcome, and you’ll soon have many friends!
Keep an eye on their listings and pay the Suburbs a visit if you’re in the area – you’re guaranteed an excellent night out!
Main Photo Credit: RUTH RAE
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‘Usually found jumping around down the front at gigs, I also relish taking photos and videos, singing, speaking with fellow music fans, and asking musicians the questions nobody else does Writing about my favourite bands and connecting with people who love music too keeps me more-or-less sane I’ve worked for over 25 years at a video production company, mainly filming live music events, therefore I have an additional backstage perspective!’