One of the most striking and impressive music venues in the city, the vast, round auditorium is both grand and intimate. Originally built in 1847 as a railway turntable, the Roundhouse opened as a performing arts centre in 1964. The natural round shape of the building makes it perfect for live music, with great acoustic and good views from any spot in the place.
Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Rd, London, UK, 0300 678 9222
The Electric Ballroom is the essence of Camden. Hedonistic and a bit shabby, it has been at the heart of the Camden music scene for decades. Hosting legends from The Clash to Sid Vicious, it certainly has the credentials to go down in history as one of the key musical hot spots in the country.
Electric Ballroom, 184 Camden High St, London, UK, 020 7485 9006
Camden Assembly (Barfly)
Formerly known as the Barfly, over the years this place has welcomed all the greats. It’s a Camden institution that peaked in popularity during the 90s. With three floors to it, it’s a cool hangout even if you’re not seeing a gig. A full bar and food by delicious merchants Lucky Chip mean you can settle in for an extended session. Music and food lovers assemble!
Barfly, 49 Chalk Farm Rd, 020 7424 0800
Formerly known as the Palace Theatre, KOKO retains the grandeur from its theatrical glory days and now hosts music comedy and cabaret in style. Set over multiple levels with several bars and a huge dancefloor, it is steeped in musical history, from Prince’s afterparties to Madonna’s first UK performance, it’s right old local legend.
Koko, 1A Camden High St, Kings Cross, London, UK, 020 7388 3222
As the name suggests, this award winning live venue focuses on the jazzier side of things. However, it’s also a great place to catch wall-shaking hip hop gigs and see the coolest American musicians making their first steps onto the UK scene, for instance the unstoppable Francis and The Lights. If you don’t know who that is, find out now.
Jazz Café, 5 Parkway, Camden Town, London, UK, 020 7485 6834
If you’re an up-and-coming band wanting to make it in the Big Smoke, Dublin Castle has got to be one of the stops on your journey to the top. It’s been that way for years. Nothing fancy, in fact, cynics would say it’s downright dilapidated, but the posters covering the walls are a good indication of some of the musical royalty who have played here, including Oasis and Madness.
Dublin Castle, 94 Parkway, London, UK, 07949 575149
02 Forum KT
This beautiful Art Deco building is the place to see bigger acts from around the world. It’s a huge space that can hold around 2,500 bodies. The beer isn’t cheap, but it’s the price to pay if you want to see music’s heavy hitters.
02 Forum KT, 9-17 Highgate Rd, Kentish Town, London, UK, 020 3362 4110
In the basement of the World’s End, this dark and dingy dungeon plays host to the more leather-clad aspects of the wonderfully diverse musical landscape. Expect a heavy programme of metal, punk, screamo and anything that brings darkness, doom and destruction. Sound like some sort of subterranean hell? Guess again: there’s air conditioning. Jolly good.
Underworld, 174 Camden High St, London, UK, 020 7267 3939
A Camden Lock stalwart, Dingwalls brings artist-band intimacy to a whole knew level. Simple stuff here. Big room, bar at the back. Stage at the front. You never quite know who you’re going to get, but why not take a gamble and get up close and personal with what could be the next big thing?
Dingwalls, Middle Yard, London, UK, 01920 823098
The Camden branch of this all-American bar is almost identical to its Shoreditch and Brixton sisters. Think lashings of Jack Daniels, blues, country, rock and Americana music, and piles and piles of greasy Texas barbecue. This may be over simplifying things a bit. There are actually over 50 varieties of bourbon to sip through and it’s not all stodgy junk food dripping in BBQ sauce, there’s a salad too. Bop off your meal to a great live music act.
Blues Kitchen, 111-113 Camden High St, London, UK, 020 7387 5277
Located in Camden market, Proud used to be a sanctuary for sick and injured horses in need of a bit of TLC. Nowadays, despite the cobbled floors and stables (now booths) remaining, it’s a very respectable bar and live music venue. Hay, why not try it out.
Proud Camden, Chalk Farm Rd, London NW1 8AH, UK, 020 7482 3867