Happy Birthday Banquet Records

By Maryam Hassan

Banquet Records and I share a close birthday, so I may be a little late on this due to partying like I’m 30

When I was 18 years old, I moved to Kingston to go to University. I remember the day I went to Banquet Records–it was still called Beggars Banquet then and my friend Anna and I had stopped outside, excited by a poster for a show (I think it was for Hell is For Heroes but my memory isn’t exact here).

Some dude came outside and convinced us to come into the shop. I think it was the first record store I had ever been in, and it turned out to be far less intimidating than I thought it would be. Banquet Records was a big part of my life when I was at University. New Noise, their punk club night at Bacchus, a dirty basement club, was our fortnightly ritual, as was Planet of Sound. We went to shows, more than I can count, at the Peel and saw so many local artists do in-store appearances.

I remember the day Dave House launched Kingston’s Current. I remember the first time Set Your Goals played. I remember discovering my favourite band, Say Anything, at New Noise and going to the shop to buy “that album with the carrot on the cover”–Is A Real Boy… I know it’s a nose now, okay?!


I think it’s so important to have a place that helps you discover new music, and whilst I was in Kingston, there was a constant stream of it to me. I would go into the shop tell whomever was working what I liked and they would suggest to me about 10 other things I might like. That’s how I started to get into Set Your Goals, how I listened to Bane for the first time (and discovered that hardcore really isn’t my cup of tea), and it was at Banquet that I first saw Frank Turner, when he played an in-store for his Campfire Punkrock EP. Having a space where I felt free to ask questions helped me see how much punk music had to offer me, and it’s attributed to how I feel about music now and my constant love of finding new bands that make my heart skip a beat.

Banquet Records was something that shaped the person I was going to become, I guess. It taught me to care more about the local scene I was in, and then when I started to take photos of bands and work at Punktastic, it gave me opportunities that I could have only dreamed of as a beginner live music photographer. Through Banquet Records, I have seen so many bands I loved growing up play in a shop and some of my favourite bands play tiny venues to insane crowds. My favourite show I’ve ever seen was Against Me! at the Fighting Cocks–that was a Banquet Show and I am still of the opinion that shows at that venue are always far more fun to be at and shoot than anywhere else.

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Watching Banquet grow from being just a record store to becoming this really amazing part of the London music scene has been incredible. Everyone there has always been friendly and awesome to me, even when I was being totally stupid. I’m always super proud when a band I got into via the shop or a club night comes over to do an in-store or to play a Banquet show. I’m such a big believer in the ideas that being nice and helping others makes the punk scene an incredible place. It gives smaller bands opportunities to support massive bands when they play super special shows, it helps photographers by giving them passes to shoot these shows even when they’re just starting out (or by putting things on in venues where they don’t need a pass!) and by being friendly all the time to people who come in make Banquet what it is, they’ve cemented their place in the community.

Talk to anyone around you who goes to shows in London and they will tell you something awesome that has happened at Banquet Records. If you ask them where to go buy records they’ll suggest there first. When I go to America I look for record stores that do as much as Banquet does, I look for in-stores and shows and people ready to suggest a million things to me that I might like. They’ve set a standard, at least with me, of what a proper community-based record store should be.


Happy 10th Birthday Banquet Records–to Jon and all the team. We all look forward to what the next 10 years brings.