Top 10: Essential Music Venues
Camden is the centre of the London music scene and has been since the '70s. For most people, the name “Camden” brings to mind the musical surge of the ’80s and ’90s, when Camden Town suddenly became the epicentre of London’s music scene, with artists the likes of the Cure, Debbie Harry and the Sex Pistols rising to fame on Camden’s multiple stages. With a variety of long-standing established and independent venues, you are spoilt for choice of places to see music in Camden.
Please note: This is not a definitive list of music venues in Camden, there are plenty more to explore! Make sure to check out The Underworld, The Fiddler's Elbow, The Monarch, The Blues kitchen and many others!
1. The RoundHouse
This amazing venue has a divine history involving steam engines, gin, trade unions and some of the world’s most legendary performers, but is now plays hosts to a variety of performances including a huge variety of live music. From large music gigs and dance to circus, film, comedy and exhibitions, a visit to The Roundhouse should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Formerly known as the Palace Theatre, KOKO was reincarnated as The Music Machine in the '70s and retains its status as a legendary music venue. The building is steeped in musical history, from Prince’s afterparties to Madonna’s first UK performance; also playing host to both the Sex Pistols and Iron Maiden, with The Clash having a momentous 4-day residency.
The all-new KOKO is a modern, state-of-the-art venue, used as anything from intimate gigs to 1,500 capacity headline rock concerts.
3. Green Note
One of London’s best spots for world, roots and acoustic music, The Green Note is a popular venue for music lovers who like an intimate atmosphere. They serve organic and vegetarian food, and portraits of famous musicians like Bob Dylan decorate the walls. A local treasure, The Green Note is run with passion and love and has everything in store for a great night out.
4. The Jazz Cafe
The award-winning Jazz Cafe presents a live music rota that leans towards the very best in Jazz, funk, hip-hop and electronic music. Expect fresh and upfront music across a variety of genres - from the coolest things in live electronic to soulful jazzy beats.
5. The Dublin Castle
(c) Martin Godwin for The Guardian
The Dublin Castle gained acclaim as a venue on in the late '70s after Madness established a live reputation there. Originally built for Irish navvies working on railways in London; it is now recognised as an important venue in contributing to the early stages of the careers of various musicians, most notably: Amy Winehouse.
6. Lock Tavern
This Chalk Farm Road music venue is something of a Camden institution. There's a focus on indie and dance, but you can expect some boogie, funk, folk, soul and hip hop, too. The Lock Tavern has previously seen gigs from the likes of Florence + the Machine, Adele, Tame Impala and many more! in the mid-noughties, it became a focal point of the 'nu-rave' scene and a pilgrimage for many music fans.
Another musical legend, Dingwalls has hosted performers such as Blondie, The Clash and The Sex Pistols in its early days. When it was first built, Dingwalls had the longest bar in London at the time and used to be a hangout point for members of The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd. To this day it still hosts some of the best live music shows in Camden.
8. Electric Ballroom
Established in the late 1930s, this venue has seen it all, from Sid Vicious to Joy Division, Garbage and many others. It even survived bombing during WW2 and remains dedicated to bringing the best musical performances to Camden. Currently, The Electric Ballroom plays hosts to a variety of musical acts and still draws huge crowds.
9. Camden Assembly
Formerly known as the Barfly and a popular hangout for the youth during the Britpop and grunge years, The Camden Assembly is a musical institution which has welcomed Coldplay, Franz Ferdinand, Bombay Bicycle Club amongst many other bands.
10. O2 Forum Kentish Town
This Art Deco building is where you can catch some of the most popular acts from around the globe. It’s a huge space that can hold around 2,500 bodies. Previous legends who have graced this stage include Prince and Oasis.