Water Rats, King's Cross

Our rating: FAP Rating 2 - Click for an explanation of our ratings      User rating: Community Rating 3 - Click for an explanation of our ratings   (6 reviews)
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FancyaPint?'s review...
FAP Rating 2 - Click for an explanation of our ratings
Having played host to the debut UK performance of Bob Dylan in 1962 and more recently one of the first headline gigs for Oasis, the Water Rats has a strong musical heritage. Its commitment to live music continues to this day with the small, often sweaty, venue at the back showcasing bands every week. This provides the overriding reason to come here, but the regular pub at the front, although basic, is not an unpleasant spot for a drink. If there is one criticism, it would be that on a previous visit the staff were overzealous in their attempts to get us out within seconds of the night's final beers being ordered. Perhaps it'd be a different story for members of the Grand Order of the Water Rats, a charitable organisation comprising 'entertainers' such as magician Paul Daniels, who have their HQ on site.
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Reviews (2)
16 Sep 2011
Rating 5 - Click for an explanation of our ratings
Water Rats deserves a longer review because there are thousands of London establishments with "bar in the front, music in the back," yet few nail it as they do. They took the time to understand how to be better than everyone else at it.

Music venue: create a venue that sounds great, and you're likely to draw bands that sound great too. This is how they generate a whole that's greater than the sum of the parts (often drawing bands that tend to play larger spaces). The sound, which can be tricky in a room that small, doesn't sound like it's banging against a garage door. The room is also as wide as it is deep, so it's generally easy to work your way horizontally to get a good view of the band on the stage.

Bar: basically a cool square room. This is particularly clever, because anyone that has ever thrown a party knows that bodies avoid large open spaces and drift towards the comfort of narrow areas. It's wide enough to walk through, but skinny enough to avoid feeling awkward in any one spot. Also, the music doesn't blast into the bar area, so you can easily talk at the bar / fail at picking up a boy / girl, if you're so inclined.

Water Rats had an unexpectedly friendly, neighborhood-y vibe. The bouncers warmly greeted and chatted with my friend, a regular there. And after the opening set, the bassist simply hopped off the stage to hang with his friends in the audience.

The crowd was also great- no obnoxious haters, just a bunch of energetic music lovers. Looking forward to seeing more shows here!
Reviews (2)
23 Jul 2011
Rating 0 - Click for an explanation of our ratings
Last night (a Friday) was the first time I'd been to the Water Rats in many years because the previous experience had been really poor. Trading on the fact a few famous people once played there doesn't alleviate the fact I found the 'front' pub area with its vile dark decor, filled with a cacophonous barrage of live band and DJ.....AT THE SAME TIME....singularly unpleasant and unnecessary. Eventually, I had to stand outside in the street to escape the completely mis-matched and inappropriate DJ. I couldn't hear what she was playing or the bands thrashing away through closed doors.

The first pint (£3.90 at the bar) worked out at £10 with the entry fee charged at the pub door, not the doors to the rear 'venue'. Which means this isn't a 'local pub' at all. The clientele essentially shuffled in groups in and out of the back room when their friends band came on for their short sets.

Like many I'd come to see a specific band, who were due to play at 9:30pm, but eventually made it to the stage at 10:22pm. Their set was terminated by an overwrought stage manager/sound engineer at 10:49pm. Twenty seven minutes for a set is an absolute disgrace. Many people had travelled from the south coast to see this gig.

Morose, miserable bar staff and the urine-stinking gents toilet by 8pm (this after walking through the 'building work in progress'corridors) didn't exactly make this a great night out....There are many other similar venues in London who manage do this so much better....Barfly, Nambucca and The Enterprise just to name three.

Not to be totally negative, the PA and sound/acoustics were not too bad once the band eventually played, but there are just too many downsides to this shabby, behind-the-times venue to make it worth visiting again, not least the sound engineer who pulled the plug during the last song.

Maybe see you again after another couple of changes of management, because believe me I won't be back again in a hurry. Trying to pack in too many bands in one evening will just p**s people off eventually and leaves everyone with a really negative experience. The way it's run at the moment I wouldn't recommend this dump to anyone. Even if you're young and desperate to play my message is PLEASE find somewhere else !
Reviews (2)
23 Jul 2011
Rating 1 - Click for an explanation of our ratings
Last night (a Friday) was the first time I'd been to the Water Rats in many years because the previous experience had been really poor. Trading on the fact a few famous people once played there doesn't alleviate the fact I found the 'front' pub area with its vile dark decor, filled with a cacophonous barrage of live band and DJ.....AT THE SAME TIME....singularly unpleasant and unnecessary. Eventually, I had to stand outside in the street to escape the completely mis-matched and inappropriate DJ. I couldn't hear what she was playing or the bands thrashing away through closed doors.

The first pint (£3.90 at the bar) worked out at £10 with the entry fee charged at the pub door, not the doors to the rear 'venue'. Which means this isn't a 'local pub' at all. The clientele essentially shuffled in groups in and out of the back room when their friends band came on for their short sets.

Like many I'd come to see a specific band, who were due to play at 9:30pm, but eventually made it to the stage at 10:22pm. Their set was terminated by an overwrought stage manager/sound engineer at 10:49pm. Twenty seven minutes for a set is an absolute disgrace. Many people had travelled from the south coast to see this gig.

Morose, miserable bar staff and the urine-stinking gents toilet by 8pm (this after walking through the 'building work in progress'corridors) didn't exactly make this a great night out....There are many other similar venues in London who manage do this so much better....Barfly, Nambucca and The Enterprise just to name three.

Not to be totally negative, the PA and sound/acoustics were not too bad once the band eventually played, but there are just too many downsides to this shabby, behind-the-times venue to make it worth visiting again, not least the sound engineer who pulled the plug during the last song.

Maybe see you again after another couple of changes of management, because believe me I won't be back again in a hurry. Trying to pack in too many bands in one evening will just p**s people off eventually and leaves everyone with a really negative experience. The way it's run at the moment I wouldn't recommend this dump to anyone. Even if you're young and desperate to play my message is PLEASE find somewhere else !
Reviews (1)
02 Jun 2011
Rating 4 - Click for an explanation of our ratings
If you don't like going to clubs, and enjoy music, then this is a perfect night starter for you. We ate at the bar then headed back to watch the bands. The night we went there were 4 bands playing and our tickets cost 7.50 GBP apiece. The mixed drinks are fairpriced but the beer is relatively cheap...especially if you get whatever's on tap. The bands play in the back room and there's a bar there as well. You'll get the chance to be nice and cozy with the locals as it's standing room only. I think the bar closes at midnight though.
Reviews (1)
17 Mar 2010
Not rated yet! - Click for an explanation of our ratings
Doesn't seem to have changed since the first review.



Noisy. Expensive. Bands not on time & then their sets were cut short. Bar closed before last band finished, and customers shooed out very soon afterwards.



Not one to visit again until their attitude changes.

Contact details
328 Gray's Inn Road, King's Cross, London, WC1X 8BZ
0207 837 7269
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