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In July 2007 I visited the Camden Underworld to see Emilie Autumn play live.
It is in a great location, really easy to find. Even if I had not already known Camden pretty well I would have had no problems to find it as it is so close to the underground station. Its proximity to the station also means that when you leave the venue you can feel safe walking back to the tube and won't be hassled by more than a few drug dealers on the way there.
It is in Camden though, so you do have to put up with crowded streets, traffic, and many people trying to sell you drugs in the local vicinity, although it is a great shopping location. However I did not have to queue to get into the venue, which made a nice change as at other venues you are kept waiting outside for ages as the door staff are so slow at checking tickets. I literally walked up, handed over my ticket, got it back minus the stub, and went in.
I went to the Underground after the smoking ban but it still had the unpleasant smell of club, however it was in fact much cleaner and less sticky than other venues I've been to of similar size and status. It is very small but has two bars so you don't have to wait too long to be served and the prices aren't bad for a music venue/club. The cloakroom has a very small opening, however, and there was a small queue for that. You have to pay per hanger/bag. The toilets are better than you'd expect although they had run out of toilet paper by the end of the gig, and the mirrors are a bit funny. The merchandise stand had a good amount of space, I wasn't too squashed in the crowd.
The acoustics are good, and the intimate atmosphere is wonderful, but the sound quality isn't brilliant. The music always sounded "loud", in that ear-aching, slightly distorted way of low quality amplifiers and speakers.
You can get very close to the stage and so the performers because it isn't very high, but being on the floor below the stage doesn't guarantee a great view because of two large pillars. It is now over a year since I went to the Underworld and I still hate the pillar I was stuck behind for most of the gig with a passion. If there hadn't been such a great, intimate atmosphere regardless those pillars would have really ruined my experience.
The staff at the Underworld were fine until it was time for us to leave. Emilie Autumn fans are rather nice as fans go. EA's music isn't the kind of thing you can mosh to, and it doesn't really appeal to the type of people likely to be rude and badly-behaved. The signing before the gig had been cut short and we'd been told when the band were on stage that there would be signing afterwards, but when we were hanging around to find out what was going to happen, the staff just hassled us to exit, one guy telling us to "f*** off and go", which was really unnecessary as we'd have left the moment he asked us to, no matter how he said it. They did have to set up for the club night following the gig but that's no excuse for being rude to people who had paid entry to the previous event.
I went to The Underworld for the first time last week to catch the regular "Kung Fu" night which is a combination of DJ's and Live Acts playing hip hop. For a start, the Underworld is remarkably easy to get to, when I say its opposite Camden Town tube station I ACTUALLY mean it's opposite it (the left entrance/exit to be precise). Therefore, given the parking situation, it makes sense to travel there on tube. The venue itself is down some stairs and is larger than I first expected it to be. It encompasses a bar area and this is linked to an open area where you stand to see the DJ's and live acts. The area directly in front of the stage is not large but this allows for a better atmosphere. Having said this it does not get too cramped at all. The drinks are reasonably priced and there are areas you can sit down which is always good. The acoustics are not bad, if I had any complaint about the sound it was that the gain was too much towards the music which meant occasionally it was difficult to hear the artists on the mic's but this isnt a constant or serious problem. Kung Fu night was £5 to get in so I am guessing the pricing wouldnt go above £10 for any acts there. I would highly recommend The Underworld as a venune and furthermore when I went there I did not see one fight or scuffle, the atmosphere is fairly relaxed and inoffensive.
The Camden Underworld is a small rock club underneath a pub in the middle of Camden (!!!). Literally accross the road from the Camden Town underground stop it is very easily accessable, from most places on the train line to London Euston. I live about 45 minutes from London by train, and can be at the Underworld within an hour of leaving. The inside of the venue is small, there are two bars, a clockroom (pay-per-hanger), a raised 'balcony' area at the back, with a mixing desk, and a floor area for the mosh pit. The stage is tucked into the corner, almost triangular in shape. As the venue is small you can get to the very front almost whenever you arrive. It gets fairly tightly packed. The setting makes it great for whatever you are into, if you like a bit of a crush and a good ol' mosh then you can do that down on the floor. If you prefer to appriciate the band from a distance, but still with a great view, you can use the balcony, whilst sipping on your pint of (slightly expensive) beer. The only criticism I would have of the inner layout is the massive pillars holding the ceiling up. There is one to the right of the stage, which obscures some of the view if you are right at the edge of the room. There is also one planted right in the middle of the main floor, a few metres from the stage. I'm not sure how much this obscures the view, as I've always been in front of it. ---- Now that I've got a description of the place out of the way, you're going to have to read my wonderful experiences at this place: ---- The first time I went to the Underworld was in late December 2000 to see "Slash's Snakepit" - The solo project of the ex-Guns N' Roses guitarist. I was surprised that such a well recognised guitarist would play such a small club, with just over 500 capacity. Arriving at the club, queuing briefly in the street outside, descending the stairs into the dark and exciting world of rock, I wa
s on a real high. After buying a tshirt to commemorate the occasion I went straight to the main floor. Even though, due to bad-timing, I was fairly late into the place, I still managed to walk pretty much to the front. Within a few hours (or it felt like that) the band was on stage, people were jumping, it was getting hot and very sweaty. Although this sounds like a bit of a nightmare to some, it was really friendly - Something you may not get at larger venues. The crowd was good - No mosh-pit violence, just a good physical jumpin' appriciation of the music. The second time I visited the Underworld happened to be last night (inspiration for this op.). I went to see the "Backyard Babies". I didn't know about this band before they announced they were playing there - I just tried to sample every band booked at the underworld as I wanted to return after Slash, and Backyard Babies was the first that I had the time/money/will to go and see. Yet again it was a great evening, I was right at the front, you could reach out and touch the band in front of you. It was an inspiration to be so close to the creation of such powerful guitar music. The venue really made it, intimate and personal. It rocked. ---- I've stopped rambling now. In conclusion the Underworld is: - Small - Friendly - Loud (approx. 2 days till your ears recover) I would recommend anyone to pay it a visit, as ticket prices are generally cheaper than most other venues that major bands play at. Slash set me back £15 (inc. booking fee) and Backyard Babies £10 (with 2 support bands). Jamie :-P