PREVIEW: Camden Rocks 2014
We chuck our collective hats in to the ring and pick our favourites from this year’s festival.
Camden Rocks Festival 2013 was embraced by the casual and die hard giggers alike last year for the variety of quality on show. The main thing we love about the concept of Camden Rocks is that it mixes in heaps of established names with a lot of cherry-picked new acts. In one small pub you could catch PR faves, Electric River and then stumble a few minutes up the road and see Therapy? ripping the Barfly a new one.
The 2014 festival sees a great growth in size. Last year there were 12 venues with over 100 bands.
This year, they’re completely taking over Camden Town with 200 bands taking over 20 venues. It’s at a ridiculous price of £25 too so worth snagging a ticket as soon as you can.
Picks by Nix Cooper (NC), Rhiannon Lane (RL), Andy Close, (AC) and Tom Mimnagh (TM).
With his two day bands (Terrorvision and Laika Dog) currently on hiatus, Camden Rocks provides an opportunity for those present to catch a very welcome acoustic set from Tony Wright. Expect a mix of old classics and new songs from his forthcoming solo album to keep the fans happy. (AC)
These guys are really a big thing at the moment. Go to any festival they’re at and you hear people over and over saying you’ve got to check them out. They know how to tear up the room and get a party started! The Nottingham based boys describe themselves as ‘general extreme noise’ and I can’t expand on that much more, possibly ruthless hardcore, but if you like Zoax and Turbowolf, then Baby Godzilla may be your cup of tea. Their current EP, Knockout Machine is available now for free and worth downloading based on track titles alone! Trogloraptor is the one to watch out for. I’m excited and scared to see which venue will be brave enough to host them, again another band that will have a packed room so don’t hang about! (RL)
These Cumbrian rockers hit the headlines last summer when they took the place of diva (or should that be div) rapper Wiley at CockRock festival and turned in a storming headline performance which saw them land a deal with Visible Noise Records. If you’re the sort of person who has fond memories of mid-’90s Britrock like Therapy?, Baby Chaos and the Almighty then you owe it to yourself to check them out at Camden Rocks. (AC)
Cypher 16 are an amalgamation of genres, but for the purposes of explaining why we recommend them, they are primarily alternative metal with electronic elements. Mixing new with the old, they are very much a unique and hugely talented UK band. They have toured extensively with a lot of big names in metal, leading me to believe their experience will make their set well worth seeing. Happy to hear anything from The Metaphorical Apocalypse album. (RL)
These London rockers see the very welcome return to the music scene of Mark Keds, latterly of Twickenham’s finest the Senseless Things. Aided and abetted by ex-Skuzzies frontman Jerome Alexandre and Wonder Stuff bassist Mark McCarthy, you’d expect them to have a raw scuzzy rock sound but that’s only half the story – mixed in there as well is a dark broody Goth element that hints at prime time Jesus & Mary Chain. Give them a listen at the festival and see for yourself. (AC)
Scuzzy pop-punk shenanigans from a bunch of veteran rockers headed up by former Vibrators bassist Robbie Tart, the DeRellas are about to launch their second album on the public and if it’s anything like their effortlessly singalongable debut “Hollywood Monsters”, it should be well worth a listen. (AC)
Leeds based outfit who have been making waved in the UK, as well as overseas in the since 2007. Their debut album growing pains has a number of catchy tracks which caught the attention of the UK music press, but it is with their second album Nature Nurture that they have really grown in stature. Although their sound skews perhaps more indie than would normally be to my taste, they have a readymade stadium rock quality to them, as particularly demonstrated on Arizona Waiting, the stand out track from the new album. They have recently been touring the US with brand new, which should give an idea of the potential trajectory of Dinosaur Pile-up, and why much like their dinosaur related counterparts, are a band who you should see in this more cosy setting while you still can. (TM)
Believe the hype. Electric River have been on an almost frighteningly steep upward curve in the last few years for a good reason – quite simply, they peddle music with guts, heart and energy. Their forthcoming second album looks set to carry on the progress of last year’s “In Your Name” EP with tracks such as “Keep The Engine Burning” and “This Garden Will Grow” show that they’re among the best songwriters in the current crop of new bands. Go see them at the festival before they hit the big time where they belong. (AC)
Perhaps one of the best bands never to crack the mainstream in the UK, Eureka machines have been wowing crowds and amassing fans up and down the country for a number of years, with catchy pop punk melodies and an anarchic sense of fun. Former (and sometimes given their recent reunion tour) Sisters of Mercy guitarist Chris Catalyst has an incredible vocal range, oozing stage presence and personality, but is also an amazing lyricist, managing to imbue his songs with a sense of manic vigour tinged with slight melancholy, but without ever detracting from the song itself . With crowd pleasing hits like Champion the Underdog, Do or Die, Affluenza, and a whole host of others form their three excellent albums, Eureka machines are the embodiment of fun, with tireless energy and a real sense of crowd engagement. A hidden gem, who hopefully won’t stay hidden for too much longer. (TM)
Two bassists, one drummer and a shitload of aggressively addictive, high energy tunes. Their second album “Our Science is Golden” was the result of a fan funded project via PledgeMusic which took only two hours to meet 100%. From the huge vocal rise in “Weird Card” to the angry “Sod off Punk” shouts, Our Science is Golden has all the ingredients to create the creepiest, angriest, noisiest album I’ve had the pleasure of listening to in a long time. Previous tour buddies include the likes of Ginger Wildheart, Hawk Eyes, Baby Godzilla, Castrovalva and more. The trio are working on their third album. In our top three most-excited-to-see at Camden Rocks. (NC)
Perhaps one of the most underrated, and underappreciated artists on the UK music scene, despite being incredibly prolific and continuing to produce an astoundingly high level of output; Ginger Wildheart takes the stage at the Jazz cafe at Camden Rocks. Although probably best known for his band The Wildhearts, Ginger has carved out a huge following in his own right via his tremendous solo work and side projects including Hey! Hello! and Silver Ginger 5, a personal favourite of mine. Always on the forefront of, or at times slightly ahead of the musical curve, Ginger has continued to consistently release challenging, evolving albums without losing the big choruses, catchy riffs, and unique vocals that attracted so many to his work in the first place, without ever stagnating. A true icon of the past 25 years, any Ginger Wildheart live show always guarantees big sing-along’s and a raucous, but ever loyal army of fans, and his set at Camden Rocks will be no exception. Get down early as this is sure to attract a large crowd, and rightly so. Not to be missed. (TM)
Not to be confused with the French metal band of the same name, God Damn are gathering pace and amassing followers with every gig. With a sound that incorporates influences of grunge, stoner rock, and metal Thom Edwards and Ash Weaver have cultivated one of the most unique live acts currently touring the UK, and from all reports this duo need to be seen in person. (TM)
Possibly one of the hardest-gigging bands in London, the Healthy Junkies are now on their second album (last year’s “Lost Refuge”) and arguably sounding as good live as they ever have, the Healthy Junkies are always a worthwhile band to check out in the live arena. If you get the chance, go and give them a listen. (AC)
Ferocious raw garage punk in the Jim Jones Revue mode featuring ex-Winnebago Deal man Ben Perrier. Their debut EP was a tight as you like six tracks of full throttle rock ‘n’ roll and they should be well worth checking out live at the festival. (AC)
If there is one band that you want to see in the fairly intimate setting of Camden Rocks before they hit the big time, it’s Max Raptor. Having seen them headline the Barfly in Camden a few months back in front of a rabid audience, it was clear to see that this is a band that has both the talent and the look to be a big deal. Lead singer Wil Rayhas a powerful vocal style, able to shift from gravel-like screams to melodic high notes with ease. The lyrics of songs such as England Breathes or Obey the Whips are tinged with the sort of political and social commentary that you would expect from a band with a much bigger platform, reminiscent in tone if not style of the work of bands like the highly regarded and well missed Million Dead. The riffs are big and bold, and the choruses are instant ear worms, while the band carry themselves with the sort of stage presence that suggests a big future, catch them while you can before they are headlining arenas. (TM)
Funked up, pissed off Huddersfield noisebeasts. You liked them so much you voted for them in the Pure Rawk Awards and they won ‘Single of the Year’ for their two minute spitting ditty, “No Prophecy”. You can snag their new EP “God Hates Mr Shiraz” by naming your price on Bandcamp. Highly recommended for fans of The Bronx and Rage Against the Machine. These buggers need to be huge. Please make it happen. Go see them. (NC)
Out of everyone on the line up, I think Orange Goblin are by far the veterans of the rock and metal scene. They’re about to reach a metal milestone, celebrating 20 years together and it’s safe to say they know how to show you a good time. In those 20 years they haven’t declined or weakened one iota, they adapt, change and grow and this keeps them current and relevant. They are hard rock, they are metal, they are stoner, they are doom and they are even time travelling blues. They are currently working on their 8th album, so we may well hear a nice mix of from their back catalogue at Camden Rocks. Catch them playing the Barfly, where I will no doubt be down the front hoping to hear Stand For Something and Quincy The Pig Boy!. (RL)
Latest project from one Mr Jon Tufnell of the Plastic Toys and the Lost Souls Club fame. If they’re up to the standards of those efforts then these folks should be well worth a listen. (AC)
London based hard rock band who think deserve some more attention. They very much live up to their name (meaning hard sound), by giving high powered, strong performances of melodic and catchy anthems. Personal Favourites include You Remain, Wasting and Falling Free. (RL)
SONIC BOOM SIX
The genre-bending five piece have been building up a loyal and diverse fanbase for the past 12 years. Their high energy performances laden with catchy choruses always seem to win over the doubters (or those stuck in one genre). Top banana. Want a real mix-up of tunes to check? Grab their self-titled album. (NC)
THE ST PIERRE SNAKE INVASION
When it comes to unusual and eye catching names, The St Pierre Snake Invasion certainly chose well. My initial curiosity with the band came about as a result of that name, which as a big MMA fan immediately made me think of UFC fighter Georges St Pierre. Whether this is related to the name at all remains to be seen, but what I can say for certain is that theseBristol basednoise-sters demand your attention from the first chord they play. TSPSI have a unique punk sound, and their debut EP Everyone’s entitled to my opinion has the snarl and the swagger to match, while still incorporating an almost Garage rock element to proceedings. Although they are still developing as a band, TSPSI are clearly one to watch, and if nothing else we defy anyone to find a band with a better name performing at Camden Rocks 2014. Go for the name, stay because they will blow your socks off with aggression and vigour, while still sneaking in a few catchy choruses just for the hell of it. (TM)
Energetic London electro-rock trio who would be at home on a huge stage with a tonne of pyro and glitter cannons. For Camden Rocks, you’ll have to just content yourself with the tunes, but it’s a thought for the future. If you’re a fan of Rachel Stamp you won’t go wrong by going to see this lot. Top tracks are “Kill Me Kate” and “Scenester”. (NC)
There was a time a couple of years ago when we were tipping Stereo Juggernaut for pretty big things around here. Rest assured that despite a few line-up changes, they are very much still out there and continuing to pick up steam despite the lack of recorded output of late. An album is due soon apparently and you could do a lot worse then give them a listen at the festival to see how it’s coming along. (AC)
Long-time denizens of the London rock underworld featuring ex-Daisy Chainsaw and Queen Adreena man, Crispin Gray on guitar and occasional vocals. If you like feral tribal drums and vocals sounding as if they’ve been spat in your face with acid then you’ll like this lot. (AC)
Two piece, attitude driven rock n’ roll. Despite having a simple set up, their rough and ready sound is HUGE. The band released their debut album last year and have netted high profile tours notably co-headlining with The Cadillac Three and support for both The Temperance Movement and Rival Sons. They’ve recently been added to the Download and British Summer Time festivals so catch them before you pay top dollar to see them. (NC)
At a first glance, The Howling look like an average metalcore band and not what you would expect. Their stage presence is immense and they play songs that send a definite message with their unique brand of punk rock. Camden will very much be their home turf as they are frequently playing in and around London. Expect a generous crowd for their set, so get down in plenty of time if you want a good view! The song to listen out for in my opinion is Hole In My Head, it has great catchy backing vocals with a beautifully emotive and raw performance from their singer, Blacky. (RL)
One of the Camden Rocks Festival headliners. This scuzzy, fuzzed up rock trio have been an underrated name in rock for a fair while. They’ve got the tunes, the attitude and the tools to make a real dent when their fourth album materialises – hopefully we’ll hear a fair bit of it in their set. (NC)
The three piece rockers pack an almighty punch. Their groove laden noises have landed them on a fair few high profile tours over the past couple of years (notably Slash, Terrorvision, Skunk Anansie, Eagles of Death Metal, Ash, Queens Of The Stone Age and We Are Scientists). They’ve got three sets at Camden Rocks (The Forge 4.30PM which is an acoustic set, Dingwalls 10PM and Underworld 1AM for the Camden Rocks aftershow) so there’s no excuse to miss them. Check out the video for “Just a Ride” or better yet, their debut album “King of Conflict” for a neat taster. (NC)
The band we like to refer to as Huddersfield’s best kept secret are finally dipping their toes in the waters further south, and I for one couldn’t be happier. From the first listen of their debut EP Go Getters, Jet Setters, Heavy Petters I was instantly hooked by the unique sound of Tropical Contact. Ben Janet has a unique voice, and is backed by a fantastic group of musicians. If their live show is anywhere near the quality of the EP, and anywhere near as fun as the video for Dain Bramage suggests it might be, they could be one of the bands of the festival. (TM)
Angry, noisy, feral rockers with the ability to make a crowd go apeshit after one song. We don’t need to say anything else about them because they’re that good. Check out their new video, “Solid Gold” if you don’t believe us. (NC)
These guys have nailed that classic and southern rock sound down tight, and they always put on a high octane show. If you see them live, you’re not allowed to loiter near the bar, they demand you all come in close and really be a part of the show. The Rise of Jimmy Silver is their current album; it delivers no nonsense rock and roll, whilst almost being an ode to the rock and sleaze of the 80s. (RL)
The venues include: Electric Ballroom, Underworld, Barfly, Jazz Cafe , Proud, Purple Turtle, Dingwalls, Black Heart, Hawley Arms, Monarch, The Good Mixer, The Enterprise, Camden Head, Lock Tavern, The Cuban, Brew-Dog, Devonshire Arms, Record Club, Dingwalls and Lockside Bar.