Sunday, 22 June 2014

Venue Report: Camden Underworld

Recently I’ve been reading a lot about various venues closing down. Recently The Peel in Kingston as closed its doors and The Boileroom in Guildford is currently under threat. One of my local venues, The Twist has opened and closed more times than I can remember. If more and more close down it’s very bad for the underground music scene whatever the genre. A venue is just as important as a band itself in keeping a scene going. Without a venue a band can’t play and without bands there is no need for the venues themselves. We have to keep as many venues open so all the bands have somewhere to play to their fans. I’m going to start writing about all the different venues I’ve been to other the years to help promote them.


The first venue I’m going to write about is the venue I have visited the most time, twenty-two times infact, it’s the Camden Underworld. Situated beneath The Worlds End pub (featured in the Simon Pegg film of the same name). The Underworld is often compared too much bigger venues such as the Brixton Academy despite only having a capacity of about 500 people. It’s situated just across the road from the Camden Town underground station. A big reason of why I like it is its ease to find. It has put on gigs for punk rock goliaths such as Bad Religion, Dropkick Murphys and The Offspring as well as acts such as Radiohead, The Foo Fighters, Fall Out Boy and The Smashing Pumpkins though it mostly puts on gigs from up and coming bands.

Whenever I’ve been to the Underworld, whether I’ve been with people or by myself I’ve always felt a sense of belonging. Where at some venues I’ve felt somewhat out of place I’ve never ever had that feeling at the Underworld. All of the staff are super friendly; the security team especially are among the nicest I’ve come across in my gig going adventures. They’re not really needed at the Underworld. In my twenty two gigs at the Underworld I’ve only seen trouble once, that was only a minor scuffle with an over enthusiastic stage diver and was dealt with so quickly and efficiently I think only a few people even noticed it.

The main room itself is a good size with the stage places in one corner which allows a more floor room. It’s a small stage and its quite amusing watching some of the bigger bands try and fit on it but it works. There is raised area around the stage where people not wanting to have a dance can stand and get a good view of the stage but to be honest you can get a good view of the stage from most points on the floor. The only drawback is a huge pillar in the middle of the floor which can block your view. That pillar is often used my bands to get the crowd to circle pit around it so it has a use other than holding the ceiling up.

One thing that has always impressed me with the Underworld is how well run the nights are. You would imagine that trying to organise sometimes upto nine bands in a day would be besieged with problems. Getting everyone on and off in their allotted time slots must be incredibly difficult. The soundmen have to make sure every member of the bands instrument is sounding exactly how they like it. Luckily most of the smaller bands would be easy to work with, if they come across as hard work venues will not want to work with them very often and word will spread of their difficultness. I can’t remember a single Underworld gig I’ve been to where the bands have been late on or the sound has been noticeably off. Kudos to the staff for that.
The Underworld is a fantastic venue and long may it continue to put on great gigs night after night.

Now Listening To: Should I Stay or Should I Go by The Clash