This year’s Camden Rocks Festival saw over 200 bands come together to play across 20 venues around Camden, marking the start of the summer festival season. The one-day event, now in its fifth year, had attendees chaotically running around to catch as many bands as possible, whilst also soaking up the rare sunshine and general excited buzz in Camden.
Proud hosted a gig for The Graveltones, a band who have a residency at the festival and were playing for the third consecutive year running; I had to see the band again to make it a hat-trick performance. The duo are heavily blues inspired with an added edge of rock and roll, drawing comparisons to The Black Keys and The White Stripes. The Graveltones’ enthusiasm shone through their thirty-minute set, with frontman Jimmy O giving it his all in the small setting. Catch Me On The Fly in particular oozed sophistication and a sultry sound from the band – who are currently based in London.
Yuck played the 500 capacity venue Dingwalls, with their laid back attitude exuding over Camden. Forgotten indie track Get Away was a highlight from their set, with its subtle, melancholy Sonic Youth influence and heavy bass overpowering the music hot spot in the best of ways.
Camden as a whole was vibrant with a great atmosphere and the great British summer arrived just in time for the festival. There was tremendous hype surrounding Young Guns, who played the 9:45pm time slot and lived up to the great expectations. The general buzz from the crowd built up the band’s set, as they played latest single Bulletproof. It was charismatic and fun with a confident sound.
Carl Barat & The Jackals played before headliners The Cribs, with a venue full of hard-core fans. Carl Barat headlined the established Camden Rocks festival in 2009 with fellow band The Libertines, and this time around fans were hoping to catch a surprise guest appearance from one of the members. Sadly it was a no show but that didn’t dampen the crowd’s festival spirit.
Barat is a great songwriter with positive, lyrically strong skills; his song Glory Days is the epitome of what Camden Rocks is all about – bringing rock, metal, indie and punk all together for one day. He also played A Storm Is Coming, which took the gig down to a slower pace, toning down the atmosphere but still managing to keep the audience engaged and in awe of the frontman.
Headlining Camden Rocks 2016 was the trio of brothers The Cribs, who played the packed out Electric Ballroom. For The Cribs’ followers it was a chance to see the band up close and personal, with a set spanning their back catalogue. The Cribs last played the Ballroom last year in support of their last album, but this was their first time playing the Camden Rocks Festival, making a refreshing change for the attendees and organisers.
The band played Mirror Kisses, which is an early Cribs song with scuzzy guitar riffs and a gnarly sound that showcases their development as a band – their sound evolving from indie-punk to indie-pop. The track got the crowd into a frenzy as they bounced along and sung the lyrics back to the Wakefield band.
As the band’s most mainstream and successful track to date, Men’s Needs got the crowd into a small mosh pit, whilst Come On, Be a No One and Cheat on Me showcased their rawness and carefree attitude. The highlight of the set was Burning For No One, which is taken from their recent studio album For All My Sisters, released last year. The track is a fun, upbeat and punchy indie-pop song that’s perfect for a festival headline set. As a devoted The Cribs fan, it was a treat to see the band play together again; having not seen them perform for 4 years, I’d forgotten how great they are live.
Every year, for a single day, a variety of rock acts come together to play across Camden but with The Cribs headlining, this year’s line-up felt more adventurous and proved the organisers aren’t afraid of taking risks and expanding their audience. Camden Rocks lived up to its title, making it the best music line-up to date.