Venue…. Koko, London
Formally known as Camden Palace, the central London based venue has established itself in recent years as one of the hottest venues. With this expanding reputation, it has become a desired destination for DJ’s and bands across the land; given the competitive nature of London, this is no mean feat. Naturally, the buildings musical history adds a sense of nostalgia and grandeur to any event taking place. Originally an old theatre that opened back in 1900 and having gone through many guises since then, perhaps now more than ever, the venue is gaining the reputation it truly deserves. The venue’s most recent refurbishment and extensive restoration in 2004, led by the Mint Entertainment group, lifted the grade two listed building out of it’s state of disrepair and propelled it back into the upper echelons of London nightlife. By faithfully restoring the building to it’s former style and staying true to it’s historical roots, they were able to retain the special feeling that is felt when entering. History and the team’s keen eye for high levels of production combine to create a rather unique blend for a modern day venue. It truly is an exceptional use for such a space in the sprawling city of London.
Many a star has graced the Koko stage in recent years. A major coup for the venue was the 2007 album launch of Coldplay’s third album ‘X&Y’ and they don’t come much bigger than Madonna, who not only performed for the first time in the UK at the Camden Palace back then, but returned in 2007 for the launch of her album ‘Confession on a Dancefloor’. More recently, the venue has played host to the likes of The Enemy and up and coming indie star Mac Demarco. Whilst leaning on the side of Indie, Koko consistently has its finger on the pulse of modern musical trends. Opening its doors to DJs alongside live acts has seen the queen of popular dance music Annie Mac bring her Annie Mac Presents tour to the venue, as well as Dubstep big hitters Flux Pavilion and Doctor P. Truthfully, the list of stars that have once played at Koko goes on and on. Kanye West, Lady Gaga, Amy Winehouse, Usher. A quick glance at the list shows that this is a venue of the highest quality and one that is respected across all genres.
Of course, this doesn’t quite paint the full picture of the gigging experience. We’re missing one crucial element, the bar. Yes prices are higher than most venues across the country, however, considering that two minutes round the corner you will do well to find a pint for less than £4, you won’t be set back to badly after a night at Koko. Unlike a lot of venues, who seize the opportunity to make extra cash by raising prices when they know they will have a packed out gig, a can of Red Stripe for around £3.70 seems a fairly reasonable deal.
The venue doesn’t limit itself only to gigs however. In part, their sterling reputation has been down to their regular club nights that always attract a good, like minded crowd. Favourites include the once a month Saturday event Buttoned Down Disco, a night filled with electro, funk and disco focusing on good music, and also Guilty Pleasures which does exactly what it says on the tin; a night full of those sing-along classic that you secretly adore. With entry prices starting from £2 for student card holders, you won’t have to worry about breaking the bank here. Equally the venue’s roof terrace, which opened back in 2009, provides a rare opportunity to soak up some of the London summer sun and is open to all, gig ticket or not.
If you haven’t experience Koko yet, you should. The venue’s opulent burlesque feel acts as a special setting to see some of your favourite live acts. With ample space for exploring the hidden depths of the old theatre on their various club nights and a beautifully restored dance floor to show off your moves, Koko is definitely something you don’t want to miss.
By Jack Evans