LIVE: Camden Rocks 2014, London 31/05/2014 – Part 1/2
Camden Rocks has expanded year on year taking in the very best venues that Camden Town has to offer and putting on a mix of the most exciting new, alternative talent and a wealth of big-name circuit acts in rock, metal, punk and indie. We’ve been lucky enough to see Camden Rocks right from the start and every year we’ve found new bands to check out and got up close and personal with the big guns on the bill.
Unlike a lot of all-day events, people were getting their money’s worth by starting their day early which was great news for a lot of the newer acts on the bill. Before noon the queues for the day wristbands at the Underworld went right round the block and punters had pints in hand.
Reviews by Nicola Cooper, Andy Close, Tom Mimnagh, Greig Clifford, Louise Delahunty and Rhiannon Lane. All photos by Greig Clifford.
New Device opened up the Electric Ballroom, the main stage of Camden Rocks to a pretty decent sized crowd. Powerhouse frontman Daniel Leigh gave it everything to get the dedicated bunch at the front singing and clapping along. It was hard to resist as they chugged through a high energy set with the highlight singalong of “On Fire”. Great choice for ‘openers’ and did pretty well given that they had such a big space to fill so early on in the day. (NC)
The Jazz Café gave a wonderfully moody setting for the dark, Western inspired, dirty rock n’ roll from Saint Agnes. Their tunes wouldn’t be out of place in a Tarantino movie. Jon (Lost Souls Club) and Kitty (Lola Colt) have a wonderful chemistry on stage and their vocals are equal parts raw and beautiful. Having been enchanted by Jon’s previous bands, Plastic Toys and The Lost Souls Club (and still playing both on a regular basis), Saint Agnes have set a new standard for independent bands on the circuit to aspire to.
Throughout the whole set, I could feel the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. They’re devilishly good. Check out their new single “Old Bone Rattle” now if you still need convincing. (NC)
Unfortunately at the Canalside Bar, Dingwalls where Healthy Junkies and Los Pepes were to playing had an issue with the amps. Both bands standing around outside the venue looking less than happy – it turns out that the amps are late arriving to the venue and nobody seems to know what time proceedings are due to kick off. Off to see the Peckham Cowboys at the Electric Ballroom. It’s a bit weird to see the booze-fuelled South Londoners in these surroundings (to be honest, it’s weird seeing them anywhere that isn’t a less than salubrious boozer south of the river) but they give a good account of themselves with Marc Eden shimmying menacingly around the stage while the band slam out tunes such as “Not Guilty” and “Painkillers” with their usual shambolic charge. (AC)
A quick amble over to the Black Cap sees us catching Stereo Juggernaut (click for more photos) for the first time in many moons. It’s safe to say that this is a very different SJ from the one that was doing the rounds a few years ago – the synth has been ditched and an extra guitar brought in and there’s a new thrash element to their sound which recalls a ‘gothed-up Motorhead’ in places. Not expected but it’s definitely good progress for them. (AC)
It’s over at the Brewdog where the overselling of tickets at this year’s festival first becomes apparent. Despite arriving a good ten minutes before he’s due to sheer luck that we bag a spot downstairs bar to see Chris Catalyst‘s acoustic set. But it was well worth it as he strums through Eurekas classics like “The One Who Wouldn’t Change You”, “I’m Wasting My Time (Yet Again)” and “Wish You Were Her” before finishing on a cover of A-Ha’s “Take On Me” and regaling the audience with his trademark witty banter. This was a fun half hour. (AC)
At 2.30pm on a sun-drenched Saturday, whilst Camden was abuzz with bands, booze and revellers, cyber metallers Protafield brought the depths of the blackest night to the fore in the Electric Ballroom. The blackest night, that is, with a world of strobes and dramatic back-lighting. Watching the band take to the stage, I was only mildly alarmed by the menacing-looking drummer with a thick white stripe painted across his face. When the music suddenly exploded into the room in a glorious onslaught, thick and heavy, I was sold. I silently prayed for vocals that would complement rather than battle with the solid wall of sound – and I was rewarded with Jayce Lewis’ robust tones.
With skill and strong musicianship, Protafield put on an impassioned performance and drew a respectable, eager audience to this mid-afternoon show. The highlight was perhaps the current single ‘Severe Server’; a powerful, punching anthem of a track guaranteed to transform any alternative clubnight crowd into one sweaty, undulating beast. (LD)
One of Pure Rawk’s most anticipated bands of the day were Tropical Contact (click for more photos) (aka “Huddersfield’s best kept secret”). After various members of the PR team became addicted to their self-titled EP and seeing their insane video for “Dain Bramage”, they had to make our must see list. It seems their recent Ginger Wildheart ‘endorsement’ helped make their debut London show at the Black Cap a packed out affair.
The six of them crammed on to the tiny stage and Frontman Ben Janet heckled the sound man to turn off Alice in Chains over the PA so they could start and rolled with great banter between songs. They chugged through tracks from their self-titled EP (debut release) such as “The Wheel”, “Dain Bramage”, “Dirty Motherf***er” (lovingly dedicated to drummer Ash’s newborn son) and “Nightmare Baby”. Just before they finished off with a singalong to Huey Lewis’ “Power of Love”, Ben pulled one single party popper to celebrate their first show in London.
They’re daft bunch, but they have the tunes and the talent to back it up. Think Andrew WK (I Get Wet) sized anthems, the intelligent humour of Terrorvision and the funked up vibe and quirkiness of Electric Six and you’re close to experiencing a Tropical Contact set. A wonderful highlight. (NC)
Over the road for our second appointment with Chris Catalyst of the afternoon, this time with the Eureka Machines (click for more photos). It’s heartening to see them playing to a two-thirds full Electric Ballroom and they effectively run through what feels like a Greatest Hits set with old favourites like “The Story Of My Life” and “Champion The Underdog” rubbing shoulders with songs from last year’s “Remain In Hope” album like “Pop Star” and “Affluenza” before an epic run through the nine minute “Zero Hero” to finish things off. Yet another great Eurekas’ gig to add to the others we’ve seen down the years. (AC)
Exit International (click for more photos) chugged through an absolute monster of a set at the Purple Turtle down in Mornington Crescent. Like an angry three headed beast, they ploughed through an extremely loud set to a fired up crowd featuring the likes of “Chainsaw Song”, “Nitro Zoo”, “Weird Card” and “Black Jesus”.
Breaking ‘rock band’ convention by opting for two basses and drums, they make up the highly melodic and catchy elements in their tunes with a heap of emphasis on vocals. Noisebeast / frontman Scott jumps in to a crowd at the end of the last song gets battered around by the affectionately titled ‘wankers’ at the front. Their live show is aggressive, unplanned and all over the shop. It shouldn’t work – but it does and that’s what makes E_I such a fucking exciting band to watch. (NC)
One of the best discoveries at the festival was Dolomite Minor, a two piece Southampton based rock band with an element of doom and stoner metal playing at The Monarch. Sadly they had to play a shortened set because of travel delays but what was on offer was great. For a band that is so young in age, they sound incredibly mature and like they’ve been playing together far longer than they have. Tracks worth checking out are Girl of Gold and Talk like an Aztec. For those of you heading to Glastonbury this year they are playing the BBC Introducing stage. Go and see them. (RL)
Sonic Boom Six (click for more photos) played the first Camden Rocks back in 2009 at Camden Underworld quite early on in the day with it being pretty easy bumble down to the front and dance in front of the band. Fast forward to the present, their hard work has paid off and the SB6 massive have increased somewhat resulting in just about being able to get near the back bar of the Electric Ballroom.
The vocal playoffs between Laila K and Barney Boom have always been what has set SB6 apart from the rest of the pack. Their distinct brand of electro reggae tinged punk-rock gets bodies moving and hands up in the air all the way to the back. The setlist included highlights such as “Karma Is A Bitch”, “For The Kids Of The Multiculture” and a new tune called “Joanna” – a taster of their PledgeMusic campaign which was to launch after that festival. (NC)
In the cramped, sweaty setting of the Good Mixer, The St Pierre Snake invasion snarled with a deep sense of punk spirit, and razor sharp lyrics, taking on all manner of subjects. Singer Damien has a raspy howl which compliments the white hot guitars, and pounding drums throughout their set. One of the things that really stands out about TSPSI is how much audience interaction there was, at times with the band finding themselves on the edge of mixing with the people their playing with, and in many ways that willingness to get stuck in is indicative of the attitude of the band.
TSPSI are not a band who shy away from controversy, and this is no more obvious than during the song Hey Kids, do the choke stroke, a song about auto erotic asphyxiation, as the whole audience sang along to the words ‘you bring the knife, and I’ll bring the rope’. It’s a gloriously surreal moment, but the assembled crowd, myself included, ate up every second of it.
It’s difficult to pick a highlight of TSPSI’s set, just due to the sheer quality of what was on offer, but “Say No to Stop Motion” was particularly glorious in person, as was the balls-out, bluesy swagger of Call the Coroner. The St Pierre Snake Invasion may not be the most conventional sounding band in the world, but I for one cannot wait to see them play live again. A major highlight from of the day. (TM)
The Underworld was packed out for Hounds’ electro/industrial punk rock performance and if you like Blue Stahli, Crossfaith or even The Prodigy then they were your bag. Favourite tracks included “Monster” for its heavy sound and “The Wicked Witch” for the creep factor; however they also did a great cover of the Ministry tune, “Stigmata”. (RL)
Without having any prior knowledge, we caught Legend in Japan at the Black Cap. While they started promisingly enough, with a an almost all female line up and a style that initially evoked that of The Distillers, or even some of Tsunami Bomb’s back catalogue, and while it became clear very quickly that they were still a band developing their sound, it was certainly not unenjoyable. As a band they clearly have a good understanding of each other, and are tight musically, especially across their rhythm section, with drummer Martin Woodward doing an excellent job of holding everything together, and allowing bassist Eloise and guitarist Pyro to get on with the job at hand. Lead singer Shabby LaRat also should be praised for her audience interaction, essentially leaving the stage to perform amongst the assembled crowd.
There is certainly an element of aesthetic hipster-esque tendencies, all while colliding with a grungy, alt-punk style which make Legend in Japan a very unique proposition, and it’s easy to see why they have amassed a cult following. One to watch. (TM)
All photos by Greig Clifford.