Merton Gig Venue Opens For Live Music

The Sound Lounge hosts one of 16 indoor music events to take place in UK

Kieron Marshall and Hannah White

A Merton gig venue was one of just 16 across the country to open up for live music again on Saturday (August 15) after the coronavirus ban on indoor events was lifted.

But with no cheering or dancing it was a definitely a different experience for music lovers.

The Sound Lounge in Morden is run by husband and wife due Kieron Marshall and Hannah White (pictured above). We spoke to them about what it was like putting on a gig again after nearly five months.

The 250-capacity venue in London Road was limited to a 50-person capacity with everyone sitting at carefully spaced tables.

Kieron said: “It has been a pretty awful time for grass-roots music venues. Hannah is an artist herself, we had Norwegian tours and two UK tours booked – that is much of our income to be honest.

“The guidance changed last week and we were one of 16 venues across England that actually opened to do music last Saturday.

“Hannah performed and we did it as a pilot, we are not up and running fully yet. We had safety measures in place – a one-way system and we socially distanced all the furniture.”

But with capacity down to about 18%, once social bubbles and distancing are taken into account, running the venue this way is not viable long-term for the not-for-profit venture.

Kieron added: “On a realistic level most venue owners aren’t artists. Hannah did it for free, the bar was run by volunteers and I did the sound.

“Everyone was so desperate to see culture and performance again at the beginning there was a cheer, we had to tell people they couldn’t cheer they could only clap.

“It felt really strange to tell people not to dance and cheer, we had to remind them two or three times, we made it into a bit of a joke by the end.”

The Sound Lounge first opened in Streatham in 2009 before moving to Abbey Mills in Colliers Wood.

The roots music venue now runs as a not-for-profit and organises  community groups for ex offenders and young people.

It has been in Morden since December and is working towards opening up a new permanent home in Sutton High Street in October.

By Tara O'Connor, Local Democracy Reporter

August 20, 2020