‘We are fiercely independent and proud to be so’ – Troxy talks IVW 2023

Simon Eaton, Head of Live at Troxy, London’s largest independent venue, tells us what Independent Venue Week means to him, how lockdown renovations have best prepared the venue for the year ahead and reflects on a landmark last-minute show with Four Tet, Fred Again and Skrillex at the turn of 2023.

Independent Venue Week (IVW) returns on 31 January to 6 February 2023, and to honour such a special week, Editors will be performing live on Troxy’s stage on the 1 February. Ahead of the show, electronic dance pioneers – Four Tet, Fred Again and Skrillex – kicked off the new year by surprising fans with a last minute date at Troxy on 7 January. 

Produced by Eat Your Own Ears, the gigs followed the release of the Fred Again, Flowdan and Skrillex’s collaborative track, Rumble. The last minute show announcement followed two other surprise gigs which took place at Electric Ballroom Camden and Electric Brixton on Thursday and Friday of the same week. All shows had tickets released on the day and sold out in minutes. TPi sat down – screen to screen – with Simon Eaton, Head of Live at Troxy, to discover more…

Tell us about your role at Troxy and what it entails…

“My title is Head of Live at Troxy, which basically means I look after everything that has ticketing involved – from live music, comedy, right through to club nights, theatre, cinema, and everything in between. My day to day involves managing the diary, making sure we’re forecasting ahead to ensure we have the best possible programming, as well as handing over to our extremely talented operations team on the ground. We are a big venue with a lot of staff, so ensuring a high level of customer service is of paramount importance to us.”

How long have you been with Troxy?

“I’ve been here seven years, it’s an amazing space. As a completely independent venue, we are able to make decisions without the several degrees of separation you find at most other companies. While we are a big team on show day (security, bar staff, etc.), on non-show days, we operate with a much smaller, core group of key decision-makers. From artist bookings to venue operations, we all adopt a hands-on approach to running the venue. We are fiercely independent and proud to be so, we want every member of staff to be aware of and get involved in all areas of the business.”

What was it like to kickstart the year with electronic dance pioneers?

“Fantastic. Normally, we work six months ahead of time. For this particular gig, there was a week and a half between the initial call and the show happening, which is unusual, especially at a show of this scale and at a time when staging and lighting companies are winding down for the festive break. To make it happen and get it over the line was a challenge which the team stepped up to.”

How did you and the team overcome these logistical challenges?

“Timescale was our biggest challenge. We like to plan our shows meticulously. Not only that, we didn’t announce the show until the day, so we had to hire staff for a show who weren’t exactly certain about how many people would attend. However, given the sheer size of the artists on the bill, we were quietly confident it would and did subsequently sell out. 


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Tickets sold out almost immediately. Were you overwhelmed with the response?

“We were fortunate to be the last of three shows in London, so we were privy to the sales trajectory, so we were incredibly confident it would sell out. Within 16 seconds, all tickets were in baskets, and within a couple of minutes, they were all gone. This event broke the record for the fastest gig sold at Troxy.”

How important is the support of big name artists as an independent venue?

“It’s massive. Every show is treated the same, regardless of the size of the performing artist booked. Each show is as important as the last. Artists like Skrillex, Fred Again and Four Tet bring along the added bonus of a dedicated fanbase to our venue, who may not have been before. It was a privilege to host Skrillex, Fred Again and Four Tet, who could have very easily decided to play much larger venues in London but opted to support us.” 

How have recent venue renovations benefitted visiting artists and crews?

Reinstating the original 1930s stage has given us wings again, meaning we can welcome much larger and theatrical productions, given the space to move set on and off the stage. The double vault in the stage housing means we can now fly the set up and down with it remaining hidden. Previously, all flown sets were visible, which sadly ruined the illusion for theatrical productions. Now, everything can be hidden beneath the arch. With the added space afforded by the renovation, visibility is much better for audiences and sitelines are excellent. The phenomenal ‘30s stage can accommodate larger productions in a smaller scale of time, with the increased ability to move technical equipment on and off stage, speeding up load-ins and outs for crew. In addition, everything has been rewired in order to get this new stage up. There’s new trussing, lighting and power. The foyer has had a facelift also. We took up a shabby looking carpet to reinstate the original 1930s floor underneath, which was in pristine condition when we unearthed it. The original box office is now back in action, but this is very much an ongoing refurb. 

“We’re still making improvements and upgrades to the venue with more toilets, bars and beer cellars. We’re also in ongoing talks with local licensing and police to look at the viability of increasing our capacity.”

What are your plans for Independent Venue Week?

“We have Editors playing on 1 February. As the largest independent venue in London, it’s absolutely something we should be more involved in, however, generally speaking the model of Independent Venue Week dictates big bands in small venues, and our 3,100 capacity plays against us sometimes as larger acts don’t typically choose to perform in January, so to land Editors has been brilliant.”

How does the rest of the calendar year look like for Troxy?

“The increased capacity is a big thing for us this year. Work has started but we’re waiting for the green light to open the door to more people later in the year. As a building of considerable age, renovation isn’t always straightforward but we are quietly confident. After Editors, we’ll have shows from Black Veil Brides, The Flaming Lips will bring their classic album, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, to life with a new show at Troxy, as well as our usual Swiftogeddon nights dedicated to worshipping at the altar of Taylor Swift, which sell out every time, and some things I have to stay tight lipped about.”

IVW is the UK’s annual weeklong celebration of independent music and arts venues and the people that own, run and work in them. Over 200 venues take part every year, creating special live events to bring local communities together to celebrate the independents within the industry.