Thursday, May 01, 2008

More Tales From the Crypt

St Paul's Church in Deptford has recently had a major restoration project, including the crypt. Twenty years ago though the latter 'was a damp , mildewy, run down place with dirty walls and dirty floor and a dodgy loo without doors' (from here). It was also a major subcultural centre.

Pyschedelic Club

In the mid-1980s there was a regular Friday night Psychedelic club. The flyer, left, is from 1985 - note the enticement to 'Be early - people are dying to get in'. Run by Andy More, the club was more like an indoor festival featuring regular appearances from free festival favourites like The Ozric Tentacles and The Magic Mushroom Band. It became known as a place where people could drink and smoke dope all night without having to worry about the police - I am sure this had nothing to do with the promoter being an ex-policeman.

Born2Rant has posted her memories of club there on her interesting hippiecounterculture blog: 'with the dope smoke , the fantastic lightshows, the colourlful drugged up crowd dancing like maniacs, and of course the amazing music , it became a magical place. There were very few public places in London you could smoke dope safely... The Ozrics were playing and the vibe was amazing. All these girls were on stage and dancing with them... the place was packed solid and everyone was doing mad psychedelic dancing and bumping into each other under the strobes' (she also mentions there being a separate gay night in the Crypt).

Bands who played there included The Ozric Tentacles, The Magic Mushroom Band, Treatment, The TV Personalities, The Invisible Band , The Cardiacs, Space Pirates, Wooden Baby, Nukli, Mighty Lemondrops, 1000 Violins, The Trogs, The Pink Faeries, The Shamen and The Stone Roses (I was surprised by the latter but its confirmed here).

Reggae Sound Systems

In his Short History of Music in South London, John Heathcote mentions reggae sound systems playing in the Crypt. This is confirmed in William (Lez) Henry's excellent What the Deejay Said, which includes a detailed account of an early 1980s soundclash there featuring his own Ghettotone sound system, Revolutionary Hi Power and Frontline International (the latter apparently victorious after turning up with a truck load of speakers to literally blow away the opposition). He says: 'a popular venue at the time was the 'Crypt' in Deptford... where the spirits of the dead were regularly replaced by the spirits of the living-black, tomb-ravers'.

Other clubs

The Band of Holy Joy played some of their first gigs at at an early 1980s club called The Stomach Pump in the crypt. Johny Brown from the band recalls that 'the club was run by two extremely groovy guys called Slug and Chin and some of the best times of my life were had in there'. Charles Hayward's Camberwell Now also played at The Stomach Pump in November 1983, so I am guessing it was a fairly leftfield kind of place.

There were also punk gigs - anarcho-punks Virus played there in 1986. Then in 1998 there was an early acid house club Boomshanka on Saturday nights. The picture - of a Psycho's Mum gig in 1988 - gives a sense of the space.

Tell us more if you have any memories/flyers etc. Also, I believe scenes from Interview with a Vampire were filmed at St Pauls.


Chris H said...

If I'm not mistaken Chin was Vic as in Vic Reeves although it's hard to believe that Jonny Brown wouldn't know that, given that Vic was in the video that the Band of Holy Joy shot in the Rivoli Ballroom for...

Mikus said...

The killer JA soundsystem of Ray Symbolic played it too...

"Ray Symbolic HiFi was run by a man called Ray who was from Chishol Avenue, Waltham Park, Jamaica. Originally the Sound System was a soul sound but in 1977-1978 when Ranking Joe and Jah Screw had joined it started becoming more a rub-a-dub sound. In 1980 the sound was crowned Champion of the year and in the late Summer/Autumn of the same year they were the first Jamaican sound to tour abroad doing an all sold-out tour in the UK. Including dates at Acton Town Hall with Fat Man Hifi and Frontline International, Studio 54 in Wolverhampton and St Pauls Crypt, Deptford and the Newland Club, High Wycombe."

Anonymous said...

The Purple People Eaters played their regularly in the 1980's and played with The Magic Mushroom Band, Ozric Tentacles, Omnia Opera, etc. Here is a video of the crypt in 1985 with Whiz's light show and DJing :