20 bands you need to see at Camden Rocks 2015
The line-up for Camden Rocks 2015 is killer. Year on year, the team behind this festival keep thinking of ways to grow the festival to reach new audiences without alienating those who have seen it from the start – this year is no exception.
If you’re a newbie to Camden Rocks, welcome to the party. It’s not just a ‘Camden Crawl’ type affair – it’s a hell of a lot more than that. Favourite gigging venues in the alternative Mecca will be taken over for the day by the team behind the Jubilee and Club Kamikaze.
The mix of new, underground bands with the larger (in some cases arena-filling) bands on offer, you’re not short of something to see. If you’re as obsessed with the independents as we are, you’ll probably know a fair few on the bill.
In this list, you’ll find 20 of our top picks from the festival which takes place on Saturday 30th May. Words by Nix Cooper, Dave Ashworth, Grieg Clifford, Dan Stent, Andy Close and Steve Brixey.
It’s rare for a new band to come along and hit with a debut album that sounds like it could be the work of a band with several records under their belts but Scottish rockers, the Amorettes have done just that with their album, “Game On”. The lazy comparison would be to early ’80s bands like Girlschool and Rock Goddess but a more accurate way of seeing them would be a female version of first album Airbourne – big chantalong choruses, killer riffs and hooks and attitude in spades. (AC)
Oh, how we’ve missed them. Back after a seventeen year break (SEVENTEEN YEARS! Surely not!), Baby Chaos have lost none of their fire. Their recent show at the Camden Barfly was a timely reminder of just what an incendiary live act Chris Gordon and co. are, while new album “Skulls, Skulls, Skulls, Show Me The Glory” is already a contender for album of the year. Easily one of the best (and most underrated) bands to emerge from the nineties “Brit Rock” scene, catch ‘em at Camden Rocks and remind yourself why. Boys, it’s good to have you back. (SB)
If you like your stoner rock sound infused with some very British wit, then Sheffield’s very own Sons Of The North, Black Spiders, are the band for you. From the tongue-in-check humour of tracks like KISS Tried to Kill Me, to full-on hard rock anthems like Stick It To The Man, the Spiders are a great live band who rarely fail to deliver. (DA)
Image: Mark Latham
The Dictators NYC
The Dictators were arguably the original NYC punks. CBGB regulars, their debut album “Go Girl Crazy!” actually predated the Ramones’ first album by a full year. Two further albums, “Manifest Destiny” and “Blood Brothers” cemented their reputation as one of the best punk bands in New York but for some reason while most of their contemporaries went on to chart megastardom, Handsome Dick Manitoba and his crew never quite managed it. However, some 40 years on from that debut they’re still going strong and last year saw the band make a triumphant return to British shores for the first time since 1977. (AC)
Recently in Camden at the Underworld supporting the rather excellent Glamour Of The Kill (who incidentally are also playing the festival and who you should definitely see playing live), EofE made an impressive statement of intent. They’re young and naturally gifted musicians with a singer who can hit the high notes. Their sound is one that fans of Mallory Knox will instantly connect with and their songwriting has a maturity that can stand the test of time. They are a tight live band that look set for a very bright future indeed. (GC)
There really couldn’t be a better time to see Yorkshire’s premier exponents of rocking pop, Eureka Machines. Riding high on the success of their recent Pledge campaign and hot on the heels of the official release of career best new album “Brain Waves”, reports from the current tour suggest that this brilliantly entertaining live band are on incredible form. Last year at Camden Rocks, EM’s set in the Electric Ballroom could easily have been a headline performance. Expect it to be busy. Get down early, you won’t regret it. (SB)
Feed The Rhino
Recent Camden shows include their demolition of the Underworld at last year’s album launch event and a typically intense show at the Roundhouse which turned into quite the riot, caught on video for the band’s latest single “Finish The Game”. They play at The Barfly, a much smaller venue, so get there early as this is one gig that is sure to reach capacity quickly. (GC)
Fresh from the first leg of his ‘Songs & Words’ tour, the prolific Ginger Wildheart will be taking to the stage at Proud. The Wildhearts frontman is one of the most consistent (and consistently under appreciated) artists of the past 25 years. Alongside a wealth of Wildhearts material, Ginger has produced some fantastic solo albums and projects including Hey! Hello! and Mutation. His most recent endeavour, ‘GASS’ (which saw Ginger release a single every month for a year alongside a whole host of extras), was a huge success – giving subscribers unparalleled value for money with Ginger penning some of his best solo material to date. Expect big sing-along choruses, catchy riffs and a packed venue. His performance last year resulted in people being turned away, so arriving early is essential. You have been warned! (DS)
Gun’s latest release, “Frantic” is laden with powerful, anthemic rock n’ roll. The Scottish rockers have slightly mellowed, becoming less riff-heavy – but what they haven’t lost is a knack for hooks and solid songwriting. We love Gun, Word Up. (NC)
They must have played just about every venue in Camden during their rise to becoming one of the UK’s leading Rock bands, always delivering the big performances whether in a small club or bigger venue. Expect a high energy show with plenty of sweat and showmanship… and of course a whole bunch of fist-to-the-air stadium filler tunes! (GC)
Image: Jeff Antebi
A change of name (previously called Weatherbird) marks a welcome progression for the band into the world of full-on four-to-the-floor Heavy Rock, something their songwriting always seemed to be crying out for. Their first release “Mental Home” gives a satisfying taster of the riffs to come. They have dates supporting Ash around the UK in June and have been confirmed for Download too. For people using Camden Rocks as a way to discover some excellent new bands Hyena are a must see. Catch them before they explode. (GC)
Originally releasing three and a half albums during the late 80s / early 90s thrash boom, Lawnmower Deth were judged too silly to stay dead, and have been playing sporadic reunion shows since 2008. Fronted by lead singer Qualcast Mutilator (or Pete to his mum), their biggest hits were a thrash cover of Kim Wilde’s Kids In America, and the incomparable Seventh Church Of The Apocalyptic Lawnmower. Expect to headbang, bounce and giggle in equal measure. (DA)
You can’t escape the feeling that Love Zombies are going to be very big, very soon. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, the glorious noise they make is a happy reminder that putting “punk” and “pop” in the same sentence doesn’t have to be a terrible thing; think of the Ramones at their catchy best and you get the idea. Secondly, in singer Hollis Mahady, LZ have a compelling frontwoman who absolutely screams star quality. Her upcoming stint as vocalist with Hey! Hello! will undoubtedly earn Hollis a new legion of adoring fans, so catch Love Zombies now before the enormodomes beckon!. (SB)
With a reputation as one of the UK’s best emerging rock acts, Max Raptor are back in Camden following their awesome set at last year’s Nightmare festival. Their brand of socially-aware, riff-laden rock makes for a frenetic live show. Frontman Wil Ray knows a thing or two about working the crowd so expect this to be a lively one! Not to be missed. (DS)
Image: Marianne Harris photography
A true rock legend, the Finnish multi-instrumentalist is hitting the stage at Proud for a rare UK performance. Best known as vocalist for glam punks Hanoi Rocks, Monroe’s career has recently been revitalised following the outstanding 2010 ‘Sensory Overdrive’ album. The follow-up ‘Horns And Halos’ was just as good and the band have been back in the studio recording a new album due this autumn. A top live performer with a back-catalogue full of crowd-favourites, this is sure to be something special. (DS)
The Pure Rawk award winners have gone from strength to strength recently, with their latest Pledge funded album hitting it’s target within hours. Now in their 20th year, the Six perform a unique brand of theatrical pop-rock which is perfect for a live setting. As happy crooning as they are shouting, expect one hell of a ride when they hit the stage at the Black Cap. Do yourself a favour, check ’em out. (DS)
The mighty ragga metal machine is coming to Camden Town, bringing many “Newport Helicopters” with them. Frequently referred to as one of Britain’s best live bands, Skindred will be taking over the (700 capacity) Underworld. That is going to be one hell of a sweatbox set, but pretty intense. Don’t miss them, get there early. (NC)
Sonic Boom Six
“The Boom” return to Camden Rocks once again following last year’s excellent show at The Electric Ballroom. After the very recent departure of drummer, and founder member, Neil ‘Macca’ McMinn they play an acoustic set at the Brew Dog stage, an ideal way to hear a different stripped back sound. Pledgers to their successful latest album campaign will already have an insight into what to expect. If you’re looking to fit in a break in the day from all the noise and chaos, this should be worth a look. (GC)
The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing
Formed by comedians Marc Burrows and Andrew O’Neill and goth/punk veterans Andy Heintz and Jez Miller in 2008 (or was it 1858), The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing found the genre of steampunk, and took it literally. I mean, REALLY literally, writing punk songs about steam, the Victorian world, and its heroes and villains, such as Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Charles Darwin and Queen Victoria’s well-known royal zombie, Prince Albert. Hilarious, and catchy as hell, to be seen to be believed. (DA)
Now this one promises to be fun. As anyone who saw them at Camden Rocks last time can attest, it’s pretty much impossible to watch Tropical Contact live and not leave with a massive grin on your face. At the Pure Rawk awards earlier this year Tropical Contact walked away with the “New Breed of the Year” award, voted for by PR staff. This is your chance to find out why we rate ‘em so highly. Wit, showmanship, MASSIVE tunes. Good times are guaranteed. (SB)
Image: Ewan Cawood
Tickets available now
Visit www.camdenrocksfestival.com for tickets, events and more information on the festival. Tickets also available in person from The Jazz Cafe box office (5 Parkway, Camden, London, NW1 7PG). Opening hours for their box office are: Mon – Sat, 10.30am – 5.30pm (correct at time of publishing).
Camden Rocks is an 18+ event due to venue restrictions. Tickets will need to be exchanged for a wristband on arrival at the festival, before you head to any of the venues on the festival circuit.
The wristband exchange and ticket collection will be located at The World’s End pub (174 Camden High St, Camden Town, London NW1 0NE).
Header photo: Grieg Clifford