The ancient city of Lincoln has experienced something of a rebirth in the 11 years since the University of Lincoln first opened. The wasteland that used to be home to a load of decrepit sheds has been redeveloped in a £75 million scheme and is now occupied by a big shiny glass university campus that is visibly growing by the month, occupied by a student population of over 10,000 across three sites. As the newest university in Europe for 25 years, it has bought with it a lot of students with loans burning holes in their collective skinny jeans. You’ll get to meet a lot of swans if you become a Lincoln student – they reside in the Brayford Pool next to the uni and have been known to pay a visit to the library and even wander into the bar next to the main buildings for a swift half. True story, that!
Dogma (High Street) – The nicest bar in Lincoln. Pricey, but the cocktails are second to none, served by devastatingly attractive bar staff. Just be wary of the precarious stairs to the toilets after that third Lynchburg Lemonade. Kind is a contemporary bar at the top of the High Street, at the bottom of Steep Hill. With regular live and acoustic night as well as the odd stand up gig, it’s hard to find a night in bad night at Kind. Lloyds (Brayford Wharf North) down on the waterfront, has a great view of the uni across the water. They do some superb deals on drinks and is always packed with students on Wednesdays. The Slug and Lettuce (High Street) has replaced the Yates Wine Lodge, banishing all the chavs elsewhere and away from decent society. This is a chilled-our bar, ideal for a quiet night out and is worth a visit for the fab food alone. Tap and Spile (Hungate) is an absolute must for musos and fans of real ale. The tenants of the Tap and Spile are passionate about music and cram this small and cosy pub with live Blues bands every Friday and a legendary music quiz on the second Wednesday of each month. This isn’t a particularly studenty hang-out, mostly occupied by the local indie-ites but with a welcoming atmosphere and circular chess, what’s not to like? With its diverse choice of beers and ales, foosball table and its individual beer garden, The Jolly Brewer is a great place to pass the odd evening. It also hosts regular live bands from rootsy backgrounds. Now that the smoking ban is in place, it has become apparent that the Stags Head (Newport) smells of beer! But it has friendly staff, huge portions of grub and live indie bands on Fridays. You can buy a Tube map style cartograph from this pub, directing you to every other drinking establishment in Lincoln – there are a surprising number of them! As a chain pub, Quayside (Brayford Wharf North) has splendid offers on food drink, especially if you sign yourself up for a loyalty Yellow Card. The Varsity (Guildhall Street) could have been made for students, particularly on Wednesdays for Student Night. Cheap drinks (averaging at £1 per shot), fellow students and music - what more could you want? It can become a bit of a meat market when the Townies come out to play at the weekend but it’s great as a stop off on the way to Scream. It’s a hell of a trek up Steep Hill (yes, the name gives it away. It is fucking STEEP) to The Lion & Snake (Bailgate) but worth it for the quiz night and for the Sunday roasts. You will be missing your mum’s cooking, so head on up t’hill.
Scream (Brayford Wharf North) is the best club in Lincoln for indie kids where there is a great, trouble-free atmosphere. Head down to Yo-Yo on Saturday from 8pm for the best new and vintage tunes, fellow indie-ites and comfy leather couches. Plus, they now sell Brothers Pear Cider – if you’ve ever been to Glastonbury you’ll know how important that is! Make sure you take out your student card for discount entry. Pulse/Ritzy/Jumpin Jaks (Silver Street), Lincoln’s three-tiered supposed “superclub”. Wednesday is student night and is always good for a laugh with a great student-centric atmosphere. It’s had a bit of a refurbishment of late but it’s still best to steer clear of any carpeted areas if you have become particularly attached to your shoes. Take your student card along to get in a couple of valuable pounds cheaper. Sugarcubes (West Parade) was formerly a haunt of the entire county’s 14 year-olds, but now attracts students who usually frequent the main clubs and pubs but are trying something “different”. It does resemble a juvenile detention centre from outside but it has some truly eclectic club nights including metal, pop, indie and alt-rock. Tuesday is Student night with bargain £1 entry. Cheap and cheerful!
The opening of the £5 million Engine Shed (Brayford Wharf East) has been quite an exciting prospect for little old Lincoln. This is the new location of the Uni Student Union bar and offices but is also the newest and biggest music venue in the East Midlands. The Engine Shed opened in September 2006 and comprises 3 bars, the main concert hall, shops and café’s. The Zutons, The Charlatans, Dirty Pretty Things, British Sea Power, Cooper Temple Clause and The Beautiful South among others have already played this sparkly new venue with Ian Brown, The Human League, Stiff Little Fingers and Athlete due to play before Christmas. It’s only been open a year and there are already plans to extend it. Exciting stuff for students and locals! Drill Hall (Freeschool Lane) is an old hall dates back to 1890 but was tarted up in 2004 to serve as an arts centre. It holds band nights regularly like The Pioneer Club which is dedicated to new music. The Subway’s sold out a night here a couple of years back of the Drill Hall’s nights are taken up by tribute bands alongside folk, jazz and classical collectives. There is something on almost every night ranging from plays and films to literature recitals that nicely complement the live music. The second Thursday of every month sees the Red Herring comedy night which is, naturally, good for a chuckle. The fact that it’s on a school night shouldn’t put the students off much. The Bivouac at The Duke of Wellington (Broadgate) – Playing at the Bivouac is something of a rite of passage for local bands but it has also showcased a lot of bands who toured before they made it big. British Sea Power, Biffy Clyro, The Others and even The Killers have all played here over its 7 years. As well as having its own record label, The Bivouac also acts as a much needed incubator of local talent by encouraging anyone willing and vaguely able to get up and play live. The Cell (Mint Street) is an eclectic venue, only open at night. Its Friday night events including Choobe, Audiojak and Moda attract some of the world’s best-known DJs. Thursday’s Jam indie night is well worth a visit, as is the Drum and Bass night on Saturday should that be your cuppa. It’s a popular place essentially there is booze and music to be found which should appeal to even the most discerning of students. The Mezz (Ruston Way) is student bar nestled in the Pavillions Student Village that is home to a few pool tables and some comfy seats for most of the week but The RaW night on Saturdays has bought The Mezz to life with a great mix of live indie bands, local and from other territories, and DJ Martin’s superb sets in between. Travellers Rest (Canwick Road) is the place for anyone of the punk persuasion. Most of Lincoln’s punk (and sometimes metal) bands have played here at some point in their existence and they always get a good reception. It’s a little out of the way but a worthwhile the trek away from the Town Centre for a likeminded crowd.
The aged clientele at Jumpin Jaks (Silver Street) make it seem like an over 40’s dating club every night of the blessed week. It’s a lowly little grief hole with crap music, shite décor, a dance floor is full of lecherous cretins where the staff are miserable, the drinks are expensive and the bouncers have wandering hands. Genuinely foul.
Lincoln doesn’t have a huge number of independent clothes shops intended for anyone under bus pass age. However, a few exceptions include Spinning Wheel, Ego, EQVVS and Yak (which sells Engine Shed tickets as well as clothes). These shops are all tiny but you can find some nice individual pieces as well as branded gear. Hunky Dory (Guildhall Street) is formerly Sonic Sounds record shop, run by Lincoln scene stalwart Jim Sonic. Here you can find hundreds of band and film t-shirts as well as skinny ties, posters and other assorted indie necessities. In the respect of High Street fashion, there’s a lot to choose from with more chain shops opening on a fairly regular basis. The likes of Topshop, New Look and Primark have all recently relocated to bigger stores within the town centre to accommodate the growing number of shoppers. The rest of the other omnipresent High Street standard shops like French Connection, Debenhams, TK Maxx, Burtons, Envy, Oasis, River Island and Dorothy Perkins can of course be found. Planet Of Sound on the High Street is a little-known outlet houses Lincoln's largest selection of second-hand records, videos and CD's. It boats sock of over 30,000 items. They also have an online record store that stocks their wares by record label. Fancy!
The best known band spawned in the land of Lincs are the 22:20s, who have now sadly disbanded. But that has left room for a lot more of Lincoln’s unrivalled talent to emerge. The local music scene has flourished in the last few years, seeing a lot of young lads and lasses picking up guitars and miraculously throwing together a raft of ace songs while showing you a saucily good time. There is a strong punk scene but the alt rock/ indie contingent is just as healthy with some of the best being The Rays, Vinyl Collide (although they have relocated to Leeds over the past year – the heretics!), The Idlers, Starter, The Jubilees, I Was A Cub Scout, The Small Print, TV Kicks and The Lipstick Entourage. All excellent bands that it would be worth getting to know upon moving to Lincoln. Check out www.lincolnbands.co.uk for more local band info.