Camden Assembly is the revamped and rebranded Barfly. Back in it’s heyday, and not one known for throwing around the niceties, Noel Gallagher said of Barfly, ‘Ten years ahead of anybody’s time.’ No doubt it’s just a thinly veiled self-compliment – seeing as Barfly plucked Oasis from obscurity way back when – but, all the same, nurturing new talent has been Barfly’s speciality since 1996, and as such, puts over 1,000 bands on their stage each year (with live music daily), and not without some kind of Midas touch.
Pedigree rock bands (Blur, Stereophonics, The Strokes) all cut their teeth on its small, dingy stage. That they’ve since opened heaps of branches nationwide (including at the University of London Union, Malet Street, WC1; 020 7664 2000) is proof that polish and pretensions are not requisites for rocking live music. Expect talent scouts to be lurking in the standing-room-only space (arrive early for a good view), alongside other musicians and musos, all sporting scruffiness and prog-rock hair and affecting couldn’t-care-less cool. Sticking around in the downstairs pub after the gig to buy the band a beer is as good a start as any to a night of rock’n’roll mayhem.