Buried in the heart of Cable Street Studios, a two minute walk from Limehouse DLR, Jamboree hardly covets itself in fanfares of publicity. Still, this is how trendy student types do it; and it’s hard to criticise an ostensibly underground venue popping up in a city full of gaudy Champagne-and-short-skirts rah-rah bars. Yet as broodingly Orwellian as its surroundings may be, Jamboree both fits in and stands out.
The tiny club’s drab exterior punctuated only by a small curtained door belies an interior that is both industrial and homely. Cobalt-swathed walls rub shoulders with ex-pub wallpaper and dozens of Tiffany lamps. There’s even a book corner for those too cool to stand and talk. Jamboree is only about the size of a converted garage, which is, in truth, what it is. The performing area (a stage would be far too formal) dominates one half of the room, whilst a bar and a couple of knackered old sofas fill out its opposite end. This leaves about twenty square feet in the middle for cool kids to shoe-gaze and revel in their own zeitgeist – not a problem; there are probably only a few dozen drinkers present at any time. Toilets are predictably hemmed in tighter than Lisa Riley’s BAFTA dress though, and you could be waiting for anything up to ten minutes for the privilege. Still, the place emits a DIY charm rarely found in the East End today.
As much as it sounds cramped, the lack of bravado and fretful swaying of the crowd make for a quietly subdued, friendly ambience in Jamboree. The dusky lampshades and echoing post-punk only add to this too-cool-for-schoolness, shadowed in the incredibly friendly bar staff.
Jamboree finds itself alone in the Studios – a couple of next door neighbours would make for an exciting little cubby hole in this relative backwater at the ‘wrong’ end of Commercial Road. As it is, however, Jamboree unfortunately finds itself sticking out more than Fred Goodwin at a socialist rally. Still, this will never deter students; not least the plucky fellows of Goldsmiths College who have been known to run a fundraising club night here. DJs play a mix of hip hop and drum ‘n’ bass between indie acts worthy of praise. There is occasionally the feeling you don’t belong in this trendy clique; it seems everyone is having a simultaneous conversation about the existential difficulties in Cartesian philosophy. However, it’s difficult to pigeonhole these young guns when the music’s great and the drinks are cheap.
Do not come to Jamboree for a love of drinks. The total drink menu comprises Efes beer (£2.50); spirits (varies according to what’s to hand – £2.50); wine (£2.50) and cocktails, which apparently include tequila sunrises and, erm, not much else, for three quid. So that’s it. In short, treat this like any other gig venue and you won’t be disappointed. In fact, it’s good value when compared to other London shows.
The Last Word
It feels wrong to call Jamboree a club. It is, in every way possible, a gig venue. The choice of drinks is cheap and minimal, the music is excellent and the crowds are so achingly trendy they look like they’ve crawled out of a Vivienne Westwood catalogue. A great spot for Limehouse. Whether is succeeds in bringing in people other than locals will depend on what acts they pull in over the coming months.
Review by Sean Williams