It’s been the backdrop to sweaty students, be-drainpiped indie kids and dodgy fringes for 12 sozzled years, but Club NME at Koko is no more.
The club night is set to be replaced by BURST, a new weekly Friday party playing hip hop, future beats and everything in between.
It's something of a shift for an area with a historic association with indie, rock and punk. The Sex Pistols and The Clash made The Music Machine (as Koko was then called) a hub for the emerging punk movement. Nearby venue The Dublin Castle incubated Amy Winehouse, The Arctic Monkeys, Coldplay, Blur and The Killers.
For a decade, Club NME was to fans of indie what Saturdays at The Nest or SNEAK at XOYO are to ravers and house-heads: a cheap, dutty free-for-all with an emphasis on bangers you know and love – and a guarantee you'd be covered in cheap lager come closing time.
In fact, yours truly has fond memories of playing live at Club NME seven years ago, in Southport's now deceased Underground club.
But, like music itself (and sharks), clubs must keep moving or die. House music has well and truly crossed over into the mainstream, whilst grime has moved a whole generation of young people, who might otherwise have picked up a guitar, to don a tracksuit and reach for the mic instead. Koko has assured us that there will be Club NME specials throughout the year, but its migration from weekly fixture to one-off night signals another spade in the ground for a genre that has seen its relevance decline in the face of recent changes in music.
But Camden’s music scene is as lively as ever. The iconic Barfly has become Camden Assembly, but the venue, a stalwart of the Britpop and grunge scenes, remains one of the best in the capital for live music. Now BURST promises forward-thinking rap from emerging talent Kadiata and dancefloor beats courtesy of Radio 1Xtra regular DJ Cable (Fri Jan 13). Then next month Toronto’s much-hyped Jazz Cartier returns to London for only his second UK headline show (Fri Feb 10).
We’re sad to see Club NME go, but the future’s definitely bright for live music in Camden.
In other news, there are plans to build a swanky new hotel connected to Koko.