Ahh Koko. Or as we like to call it: ‘Shepherd’s Bush Empire’s smaller, much better looking cousin’. Koko is a gorgeous, theatrical looking venue which remains as popular today as it was the day it opened in 1900. You heard us right, 1900. It was in fact a regular haunt of the iconic Mr. Charlie Chaplin. This Opera house turned clubbing palace is to this day a firm favourite among the capital’s night-loving scene, totting up a musical sign-in sheet as long as a list of Taylor Swift’s ex-boyfriends. There’s even some cross-over actually, Calvin Harris and Ed Sheeran have managed to make both lists somehow. Awks.
Located in rather the quieter end of Camden (the bit opposite Mornington Crescent station), Koko was once a theatre but following an extensive refurb now comes at us as a rather epic and beautifully picturesque club/live music venue. Koko spans a whole 4 floors and consists of three main areas (We know. Massive right?) so you’re gonna need to charge your phone before heading here because you will lose the squad. Not just due to size though- it’s just as likely that one of you became so fascinated with the decoration and beauty of the place that you took yourself off for a little explore. Koko is very grand with a rich cabaret feel to it, awash with royal, majestic reds and golds. The main performance area is on the ground floor- this is where you’ll find the large stage and primary dancing space. Heading upstairs, you’ll find a more relaxed seated area, following suit with an equally decadent boudoir theme. It’s also where you’ll find the entrance to the roof terrace for selfies beneath the eponymous ‘Koko’ sign. See, we told you you’d need battery.
Music: Live, Acoustic, Indie, Rock, Electro, Alt
Dress Code: Smart
Train Station: Mornington Crescent
Address: Koko, 1A Camden High Street, London, NW1 7JE
People head to Koko to see their favourite band play live or for one of their regular indie/electro/funk/rave or Hip Hop nights. Once a month on a Saturday, Buttoned Down Disco (aka. One of Timeout’s ‘best Indie Nights’) invades the doors of Koko and no wonder they’re so good - they’re ‘invite only’ meaning you have to literally ‘request invites’. Previous live music has come from the likes of… well, anyone who’s anyone. Madonna, Prince, Kanye West, Amy Winehouse, RHCP, Ed Sheeran, Katy Perry, Lily Allen, Coldplay, Kasabian, Usher *dramatically runs out of breath* Quite the musical roster then. Beer tends to be the drink of choice at Koko- a can of Red Stripe an essential addition to any night here. You are of course allowed to drink something else, and can choose from the modest variety of wines, spirits and mixers, but we feel by doing so that you’re not fully embracing your environment. Everyone knows you’re completely obligated to pretend to ironically prop up the Leaning tower of Pisa for a photograph when presented with the opportunity to do so, and at Koko, you don a Red Striped accessory. We don’t make the rules.
Anywhere that hands out earplugs from the cloakroom means business. Koko still retains the theatrical excitement of going to a Pantomime at Christmas. You still feel the need to by a light up, novelty wand even now - it must be the the traditional colour scheme or something. Koko offers lovely views of Camden too, which at night when all lit up, somehow looks quite beautiful. But it’s not out the windows you should be looking, it’s at the bloomin’ massive stage, constantly attracting the biggest names on the musical scene. There’s loads of vantage points to enjoy the show too, with stalls all around the stage providing tiered seating like some kind of red velvet wedding cake. Crowds of all ages and all walks of life venture to Koko, as we’re sure you’re aware, Mums love a good sing song too and the acoustics here are sonically spot on. With certain events even having a super late 4am curfew, Koko is a really serious night on the tiles. Having said that, the atmosphere is relatively relaxed meaning if you so wish, you and your light-up wand are free to explore all off the interesting nooks and crannies that make Koko such a spectacle.
One of, if not the best venues of its kind in London. It really is beautiful and has such a regal, grandeur to it that we sort of expected to see the Queen pop her head out of one of the boxes above the stage. A bit like The Royal Variety Performance has gone all alternative. The Sex Pistol’s ‘God Save the Queen’ artwork wouldn’t be so ironic then, eh. Koko is the venue that every agent needs on their client’s itinerary, because in doing so, they’ve hit the motherload - many acts skyrocketing to fame soon after due to the tremendous exposure. That’s great for us as it means we’re only ever getting the very crème de la crème of musical talent presented to us. Feels pretty royal to us.