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OPINION

Crypto platform Luno sponsors Koko

The global cryptocurrency platform is sponsoring the relaunch of a 122-year-old live music venue in London.

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In all the excitement about the metaverse, one of the few practical use cases for augmented reality has been selling tickets to virtual concerts. If you can feel the sound in your living room, maybe better to watch from there than drag yourself out to drink Red Stripe from a plastic pot while listening to idiots talk through your favourite band.

Euromoney fears that this whole Web3, virtual reality, crypto thing might become a serious threat to live music venues still struggling to recover from the pandemic as bands once again cancel events due to Covid.

So, it’s intriguing to see global cryptocurrency platform Luno sponsoring Koko, the 122-year-old venue on London’s Camden High Street famous for residencies from Prince, and performances by Madonna, Kanye West, Stormzy and Dua Lipa.

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Koko theatre. Photo: Sam Neil

The storied venue reopens on Friday with Arcade Fire, after a £70 million restoration that has taken three years. Euromoney missed out on tickets, but we’re on the waiting list.

In a previous incarnation, Koko was the Camden Palace, a vast, high and rather seedy nightclub renowned for the exuberant male and female statues swinging into close proximity on trapezes above the onstage line dancers and ecstatic crowd.

It hosted gay nights before gay nights were a thing.

More than world-famous stars, it was a place for bands on the way up and the way down. Euromoney recalls (just about) a fun-filled evening with Inspiral Carpets, surely the most famous band ever to come out of Oldham for whom Noel Gallagher was a roadie. More recently, we were privileged to catch the incomparable Mark Lanegan, who sadly died in February.

Sam Kopelman, UK manager at Luno, knows the place well. He tells us: “My first ever gig was at Proud Camden and perhaps, unsurprisingly, I don’t remember who was headlining as Amy Winehouse stole the show when she got up on stage and sang.”

That’s the spirit, Sam

“My first night out at Koko, however, was a mid-week student night,” he says. “It was totally sold out, but what struck me was the diversity of people in attendance – it truly did bring together people of all ages and backgrounds.”

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The Luno

The sponsorship deal promises Luno users access to ticket pre-sales and sees the opening of The Luno, a new space at the top of the theatre with its own entrance that will host late-night DJ shows, digital art exhibitions and immersive events.

The Luno, apparently, also promises informative talks and workshops for the public, focusing on decentralizing technology, cryptocurrencies and how they are revolutionizing the relationship between music, artists and fans.

Euromoney will probably wait for The Beat in July to see how the place has changed from the labyrinth of rooms in gilt and deep-red leather that an unimpressed former friend once complained made her think she had been invited to a night out in a Turkish brothel.

Not all change is bad.