Camden Rocks is a festival known for its liveliness and eccentricity. The one-day festival – which is in its third year – saw over 200 bands perform across 20 venues. Attending the festival for the first time, I was both excited and apprehensive of what to expect, with the festival claiming it to be ‘Most Rock ‘n’ Roll festival all-dayer of the year’, and it certainly lived up to that statement. The World’s End held wristband collections, with the British tradition of long queues taking place, expanding round the pub and leaving festival goers restricted until the live music.
The first live band I saw was Shiva and the Hazards. Having formed in late 2012, I’d heard great things about the Melbourne/London based band and wanted to catch them live to see what they had to offer. Upon arrival, frontman Doug Hind immediately captured the audience’s attention through his charisma and swagger – adopting the style of Liam Gallagher. The gig, held at Proud, had a relaxed feel, as if you were watching a band in your living room, with attendees watching from sofas. It could almost have been an audition for the band, creating a juxtaposition of intimacy and vitality. Audition or not, Shiva played great tracks including their debut single East India Empress, which was kept for the end of their set. The track, which was produced by Chris Potter – who has worked with the likes of The Verve and Richard Ashcroft, featured long guitar riffs showcasing their talent and hunger for music. The song revealed a range of influences, with slick guitars and hoarse vocals making it instantly suitable for radio stations such as XFM or BBC 6 Music. The confidence Shiva and the Hazards had as they played to an audience who were relatively new to their music made them a memorable introduction to the festival.
Crowds gathered outside Underworld with excitement and eagerness to catch punk rock band The Howling live. Their new single, Possessed, which is set to be taken from their debut album The Big Smoke and Mirrors later this year, is heavy metal combined with beats and synthesizers. As with every song, the band gave an energetic performance with fans head banging and jumping around in unison. The Howling have achieved a vast following in a relatively short amount of time, and their passion and determination came through in rebellious track Champion. The frontman, nicknamed ‘Blacky’, had great stage presence as he kept control of the audience whilst loosing himself in the music. The short 30-minute set certainly left the audience wanting more from the punk rock band.
Previewing tracks from every band at Camden Rocks, I was excited to hear blues band The Graveltones playing at the iconic Jazz Café. Being a massive fan of blues, it was great to see the rawness of the two-piece band playing at a predominantly heavy metal and rock festival. Formed in 2011, the band played tracks from their well-received debut album, Don’t Wait Down. The album, which was released in May last year, has been heavily promoted with the band already halfway through their European tour.
The highlight of the gig was The Graveltones’ performance of Forget About the Trouble, showcasing their love of playing live by making use of every single space on the small stage. With a heavy drum beat and slick guitars, instant comparisons to The White Stripes and The Black Keys were made. However, The Graveltones made their mark with frontman Jimmy O’s charisma and charm, not to mention the audience interaction between songs.
Festival goers of Camden Rocks had the tough decision of which headliner to see at the one day event. Bands including The Subways, Get Cape.Wear Cape.Fly and Hacktavist were all performing and overlapping each other’s sets. However, I decided to see Sheffield band Reverend and the Makers, after they won me over in 2012 at the iconic Camden Roundhouse. Fans were elated to see the indie favourites in the small capacity venue of Camden’s Proud. Firm favourites of the gig were the opening track, Bassline, and my personal favourite, Heavyweight Champion of the World, which got the crowd going and the floor shaking. Reverend and the Makers are a force to be reckoned with, so it’s no wonder they were headlining such a great festival.
Twelve hours later and the festival was over. Only the Camden Rocks after party was left, with The Virginmary’s hosting a special celebration, leaving the music festival extraverts to carry on and do what they do best. Camden Crawl exceeded my expectations and it’s fair to say that Camden is the perfect place for live music due to the diversity and eccentricity of the people. Bands of all genres, who are going through different stages of their career, were given a chance to be experimental without being judged or booed. Crowds at the event adapted to the different bands and immersed themselves in the music, resulting in a brilliant atmosphere which kick-started the long summer of festivals ahead.