Koko is reopening in Camden

KOKO is reopening and it’s going to blow you away

We speak to Founder, Olly Bengough, about launching the totally reimagined venue into London’s post-pandemic live music scene

For over three year’s it’s been hidden behind hoardings, yet another spot on the list of London’s once world-beating live music destinations lying dark, forlorn, and uncharacteristically quiet. It hit the headlines when fire ripped through the historic dome, raising fears the celebrated building may perhaps be lost forever – and then came Covid.

Yet next month, despite it all, Camden’s iconic KOKO will reopen as a temple of live music, the likes of which seems certain to raise the bar for top venues the world over. The ambition for the completely revamped venue means it’s going to be a huge deal for the local music and culture landscape, and that makes us genuinely excited for what lies ahead.

Alongside the vast main auditorium, of which many locals will have fond, if rather rough-and-ready memories of cheap midweek beers n’ bands in the crumbling old theatre space of the Camden Palace years, there will be a second 200-capacity venue up in the new Fly Tower, which sounds incredible, plus seven more performance spaces dotted throughout.

At ground level you might find DJ shows in the merch shop, or head upstairs for live jazz at the all-day pizzeria and tap room, or perhaps eat dinner at the rooftop restaurant and cocktail bar. That’s not to mention the addition of a swanky private members club plus recording studio, radio station, vinyl listening rooms and hi-definition streaming facilities throughout the clever customizable designed spaces inside, as previewed in Vogue this week.

“We’re creating a huge platform for new artists with all the venues and spaces within the new building,” says KOKO founder Olly Bengough, “and we’re providing media and distribution for them to be heard. We believe that the behind-the-scenes storytelling opportunities for artists – which allows them to take their fans on a journey with them in a way which hasn’t been done before – is truly unique and the opportunities for creativity are huge. So culturally, we hope our impact will be long-lasting.”

It’s a truly exciting proposition to be opening on our doorsteps, and never more so than in these tough post pandemic times. “We’ll be booking over 1,000 shows per year in the new KOKO,” continues Olly, “and we are proud to remain fully independent. We are protecting a 120-year-old cultural legacy in London which is so important, especially in these times when we need positive momentum.”

The initial shows at the venue have just been announced with many already selling out. Alongside top draw live artists like Lianne La Havas and Peter Doherty, there’s a new electronic late-night club strand, which debuts with Annie Mac, DJ Seinfeld and Honey Dijon in the first month. 

Read more from Olly about KOKO’s plans to supercharge London’s nightlife in the full interview feature in Camdenist Presents The Night, our delayed print magazine that’s finally going to be available free at select venues throughout London later this month.

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