LIVE: Camden Rocks – 6/6/09
Coverage from Camden Underworld, The Prince of Wales, The Barfly and The Monarch.
This event was jointly covered between Sexy Dave and Nix. All images courtesy of Trudi Knight.
Dave: “It’s true – The Underworld still smells that bad, even during the daytime. Still, brave souls that we are, we soldier on, and are rewarded by an excellent set of sexy rock n roll from Dirty Harry. I was a bit worried by the synths and laptop when they set up, but no its not gone all electro, just a few FX on what is otherwise still a ballsy rockin’ show, with Harry herself, dressed seductively in just thigh-high boots and an oversize shirt, throwing herself through the songs and around the stage, despite obviously being a bit confused by playing a dingy basement at 3 in the afternoon. I heard after that they’re doing another show over in Hoxton the same night, I have to say I was very tempted.
A pleasant surprise up next, a young four piece called Sharks. I can’t find any info on these guys (seriously, how many bands called Sharks / The Sharks etc are out there), but their brand of melodic punky rock was certainly worth hanging around for. They do however seem to be suffering a little from lack of experience – as the second guitarist jumps around and pulls shapes, he manages to pull his guitar lead out on average several times a song. I’d suggest perhaps a wireless kit might come in handy.”
Nix: “My first band of the day are Sonic Boom Six. I’m not particularly a cross-over fan by any means, however SBS prove to be a really brilliant outfit. The small but mighty Laila K bounces around the stage like a pixie on speed to a rap, punk rock, hip-hop fusion that goes down very well with the London crowd. Considering its only 4.30 on a Saturday afternoon, they had their work cut out for them. Particular highlights being ‘Bang Bang Bang’ and ‘Strange Transformations’ … mainly to hear sober people howling and bouncing around. Top stuff.
The Black Spiders, all the way from the Steel City. No stranger to playing in the smoke, the ‘Spiders launch into a set of bass driven, low slung guitar action. Pounding out tracks such as their latest release ‘Stay Down’ and ‘D&B’, the room starts to fill up quite healthily. Thankfully, unlike the last time Pure Rawk caught these guys at the Underworld – you could actually hear everything. Then trouble strikes, we have a bass problem – during a very bass heavy song – “St Peter”. Spider drags the opening chords out and the band chug along through the song like pros. A fantastic set from The Black Spiders, they’re turning heads and striking chords in numbers of late. Rightly so.
Little brother of a certain band in the ‘Gallows’ fronts the next act, Blackhole. These boys from Hertfordshire bring a small pull of folks down to watch them. I’d hate to be any band following the Black Spiders performance – it was unlucky it was these lads. Frontman Rich belts out screamy vocals over a mish mash of hard rock then calls people hanging on the balcony posers for not coming to the front of the stage. The audience seem slightly bemused and quite frightened. Its good stuff if you like that sort of thing. Off to the Barfly.
The Barfly downstairs was packed with a DJ getting the punters up on their feet. Heading upstairs I was a bit worried for Slaves to Gravity – all of about 4 people there with 5 minutes to set time. The room gradually filled up and STG took to the stage. Confession time, I did like The Ga*Ga’s before they died out a few years ago. STG’s songs on record have a fair bit more depth in them and possibly veer more to the bands original influences. Music wise, the performance was good – playing a lot of brand new tracks as Tommy put it ‘got tired of playing the same set for almost 2 years’. Fair enough. The older material struck more of a chord. What I found let their set down is the silence between songs – no banter and hardly any interaction. It was like watching a sound check.
Back to the Underworld. Ginger took to the stage with his usual band of merry men. He heckled the audience and they heckled back – whether it was to call them gorgeous or comment on the intense smell of weed in the air. Ginger going solo or with the Wildhearts, you can always expect a bit of natter between songs – but he was more intent on ploughing through the songs for this set. The place erupted when he announced ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah’ and the audience were in full chorus. Set list regulars such as ‘This is only a Problem’ and ‘Drinking In The Daytime’ closed a rather chilled out set from Ginger.
We did try and stay around to catch part of Pete Doherty’s set to see what the fuss was about, but the place became a bit too packed out for comfort. So much so, the Underworld had to try and quickly put in place a ‘one in one out’ system which left a lot of enraged punters outside. It just became a bit too much with about 70% of the crowd for Ginger taking part in a mass exodus.
Trudi, our intrepid photographer caught some snaps of Mr D but reports that his performance was rather overrated. The crowd seemed to enjoy it, but here at Pure Rawk HQ – it’s not our bag.
Dave: “As I pass through the mainly empty downstairs bar at The Barfly, there are some good tunes being played by Pete of the Black Spiders, sadly losing out a bit from Exit Ten playing upstairs. Exit Ten in turn, are losing out being billed at the same time as Sir Pete of Doherty, who with the other ex-Libertines has (fairly or unfairly) been dominating the day. Still, the lads certainly make the most of it, the crowd at first wary of their take on progressive modern metal, but rapidly being won over. By the end, the front half of the room have their feet moving and heads banging, and set closer Technically Alive gets a huge response.
All that’s left of the day now is a solo set from another Libertine, Carl Barat. But, being at the Monarch (hardly spacious), and all other shows being finished, and with the Libertines reunion rumours that have been flying around all day, its one-in-one-out. Bugger that, it’s off to the pub for me.
Oh, and then there’s the small matter of the aftershow at Dingwalls. Exemplary of the poor organisation and choices that have dogged today’s event, this is not only one-in-one-out, but someone has made an executive decision not to admit anyone ‘obviously intoxicated’, backed by a police presence. Have you ever tried to tell a line of drunk people they can’t come in to somewhere? It takes forever. Not sure how, after a day-long festival with bars open from 12 noon, you expect to have enough sober people to fill a nightclub. Inside, it turns out to have not been worth the effort – a fairly standard Camden Saturday indie club night. Still, kudos to the DJ for sticking on a bit of Elvis and Chuck Berry.
It’s been said of Camden Crawl, and it applies to Camden Rocks too – a great idea, but lacking the bands and organisation to make a great day.”
Nix: “My only complaint of the day was the lack of organisation with security at the Underworld when Pete Doherty started his set. The place was over capacity and punters outside were literally forcing their way in. The Underworld holds approximately 700 at maximum capacity and it seemed everyone wanted a piece of that set.
However, the thing I like about festivals and things like this is you get to ‘pick your own’ festival by wandering to different stages. For twenty quid for the whole day – with it also going to Trekstock, a teenage cancer charity – you can’t really complain.
Lets see what Camden Rocks 2 brings us – its early stages yet and it is a great idea.”