- Fri, 2011-05-20 17:41
The original urban festival, Camden Crawl brings together over 45 venues hosting fringe events throughout the day and a wealth of bands, DJs, MCs and more come sunset. I Like Music went along for the weekend to soak up as many musical treats as humanly possible, resulting in a comprehensive crawl diary from both Saturday and Sunday.
DAY ONE: Saturday 30th April 2011
The King Blues, Red Bull Bedroom Jam Outdoor Live Arena
Squeezing itself down Hawley Crescent, the outdoor live arena forced crawlers to take a carefully navigated journey towards the stage, squirming down a thin road through a tangled mass of bar queues and spectators. Of course, Camden is in no way famed for rolling fields - the festival's charm instead lies within over 45 participating venues, and although the outdoor arena felt a little dis-jointed from Camden's regular haunts, plenty of sunshine and a street party atmosphere (enhanced by three 60+ year olds dancing around in Elvis costumes) meant festival logistics were the last thing on anyone's mind. Born from the Hackney squat scene, The King Blues started our day, tailoring their guirella-gig tendancies into a punchy festival set. Though their politically minded calls to action felt largely lost on the majority, the bouncy punk from their recent album Punk & Poetry set the precedence for the day ahead.
Fever Fever Red Bull Bedroom Jam Outdoor Live Arena
Dedicating a track to recently deceased punk icon Poly Styrene, the choppy call and response chants of Norwich three-piece Fever Fever at times made for an engaging listen. Punk however, is more than the sum of its parts. Front-women Rosie and Ellie lacked the gutsy nonchalence required to carry off the sparse, dischordant three minute bursts that made up their set and at times, were rather awkard to watch - at one point shoe-horning a last minute plug for festival sponsor Gaymers into their brief forray with audience interaction. Monster was easily their best track (watch the video here) and one of the few that demonstrated their own interpretation of the influences that have so strongly shaped them.
Japanese Voyeurs Flowerpot at The Electric Ballroom
Gracing one of the larger venues at the crawl, front-woman Romily Alice spends the majority of the Japanese Voyeurs set head down and Converse-starring. The London five-piece have never been ashamed of their love for grunge and the personal characteristics that go hand in hand with the genre's musical tones present themself in full force today. As a result, we're left feeling slightly voyeuristic as the band swirl into a pit of reverb, ignoring the more accessible tracks of their repetoire and rising only briefly to cover Nine Inch Nails anthem Closer.
Dels Rockfeedback at Jazz Cafe
The intrigue surrounding Dels draws us to the Jazz Cafe, a suitably small and intimate venue for the alternative London MC. Backed with a three-piece set-up including Micachu's bass player, Dels' erratic compositional proclivities elevate what could easily be marked down as a familiar vocal flow. Live looping, wayward time signatures and a constant flux between straightforward spits and ethereal dreamscapes build into a set-closing crescendo (and highlight of the festival so far) of Shapeshift, produced by Joe Goddard, this was the first single taken from his debut album GOB released on the hugely respected independent label Ninja Tune. Watch the video now.
Dry The River Rockfeedback at Jazz Cafe
By the time we've finished the half pint left over at the end of Dels' set, five piece Dry The River have crowded onto the small Jazz cafe stage and announced that they've just returned from Norway, having played a set at 1am this morning... Covered in strange tattoos and looking ridiculously unkempt, they launch into their set, and thus the unplanned magic of festival discovery sets in as they keep us firmly where we are. The chemistry within the group is tangible, as if they've simply picked up where they left off the night before. Their rough-edged take on harmonious folk is a joy to watch, morphing from delicate poetry into thunderous, floor-kneeling guitar solos...(see pic...) The highlight of their set was this track...
Kong Club Fandango at Dingwalls
We arrive at Dingwalls and it is basically empty. And even though I know we're in the right place, I actually double check. Moments later a topless man with a rather large circumference walks onto the stage, drops his trousers and begins to sing 'the meatballs, the meatballs, the meatballs, the meat' in a rich operatic tenor. As he leaves the stage (it appears this was his only duty) Leeds three-piece Kong arrive, donning strange plastic face masks and outfits that leave little to the imagination. Balls-out, riff heavy, barely distinguishable scuzz freak-out rock ensues, where one track begins and another finishes is anyone's guess and it's hard to tell whether Kong are utterly terrible or absolute geniuses. But hey, apathy is for fools. When I got home I bought their album... (Although this is partly to do with the fact that I met them at a cashpoint later in the evening, discussed in depth the inclusion of hash browns in a fried breakfast, found out they were part of the fantastic, Leeds based Brew Records and generally became wholly enamoured in their plight...)
Ghost Poet (Live) John Kennedy XPosure at The Barfly
Ghost Poet is the moniker of late 20's producer Obaro Ejimiwe, whose debut full-length Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam signalled itself out as an early contender for end of year 'Best of' lists when it was released this February. This has clearly rippled into wider consciousness as The Barfly swells with anticipation, holding the most diverse crowd I've seen all day, including Dels, who is stood right at the front. Though Ghost Poet's sound modifications suffer a few technical blips, his sapient delivery and energetic interaction with the crowd carry across a live interpretation of an alternative hip hop album, which proves perfectly constructed for the dancefloor.
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs Club Fandango at Dingwalls
Arriving at Dingwalls, our last stop of the night, we are confronted with a bulging dancefloor, two young Spanish gents who shout 'this is why we come to London!' before running into the crowd and a kaleidoscopic blur of neon lights and 4x4 beats. Donning his standard Dinosaur outfit, TEED takes to the decks. Though we're a little disappointed to find him laboriously mixing a blend of minimal house and familiar electro (I'd hoped, in vain I now realise, that he'd open with an un-released remix of Garden) the crowd seem unperturbed and happy enough to be dancing to a patchwork of beats provided by a man in a dinosaur costume, which clearly, proves everything is right in the world.
DAY TWO: Sunday 1st May 2011
The Hip Hop Shakespeare Company The Roundhouse
We start the day with something a little bit different; The Hip Hop Shakespeare Company. Fronted by UK hip hop emcee Akala, the company seek to draw attention to the cultural, linguistic, social and rhythmical parallels between hip hop and the work of Shakespeare. Today’s performance is a chance for members and friends of the company to showcase a number of songs and spoken word pieces that the work of Shakespeare has inspired them to write. Akala fronts the show and is a consistently engaging presence, his passion for his subject unmistakable. The small clutch of performers who join him include singer-songwriter Angelina Roz, emcee Lori Analytical, and a couple of very talented kids, all of whom help to create a show that both entertains and educates.
Dutch Uncles The Bull & Gate
Manchester’s Dutch Uncles draw an impressively big crowd at The Bull & Gate, given how far the venue is from the main stretch of the Crawl. The majority of their set-list is drawn from their recently released album Cadenza, and the depth of the band’s talent is made abundantly clear from the ease with which they recreate their rhythmically complicated and intricate indie-pop. The star of the show is without doubt lead singer Duncan Wallis, who seems cripplingly shy between songs but when he’s singing dances like Michael Jackson suffering involuntary spasms. It’s impossible to take your eyes off and strangely infectious…
John & Jehn The Earl Of Camden
The energy and intensity of John & Jehn’s live show is incredible. John is the very embodiment of rock and roll as he strikes pose after pose with his bass guitar held aloft, his gaunt features cast in sparse relief by the lighting and his wild stare piercing the audience. Jehn – sometimes behind an organ, sometimes just on the mic – is equally captivating, her brooding vocal delivery and elegant beauty casting her as a dangerous femme fatal. The chemistry between them is powerful and hypnotizing, lending their sinister post-punk a wildly romantic us-against-the-world air.
The History Of Apple Pie Dublin Castle
Riding the wave of the recent early nineties fuzz-rock revival, as exemplified by bands like Yuck, The History Of Apple Pie make melody-rich songs dominated by walls-of-guitar sound. In the true spirit of the genre’s name – shoegaze – the band spend much of their time avoiding eye-contact and staring studiously at the ground, particularly in the case of lead-guitarist Jerome Watson, whose Jonny Greenwood fringe obscures his face as he hunches over his bank of pedals. It’s not a visually arresting performance, but the tunes are sweet enough to keep heads bobbing and punters attentive.
CocknBullKid Dublin Castle
Anita Blay, a.k.a. CocknBullKid, deals in hook-heavy, intelligent pop, and accompanied tonight by a drummer, guitarist/bassist, keyboardist and backing singer her tunes come to life excellently. She is all smiles, clearly enjoying the enthusiastic response from the packed venue, and exuding the bubbly charisma that shines through in her music. With her album yet to be released the majority of the audience don’t know her songs, but it doesn’t stop them from reacting like they’re seeing an established favourite, rewarding the singer with a huge round of applause as her set comes to an end.
Slow Club Electric Ballroom
We saw them at the Jazz Café at last year’s Crawl, and it’s testament to how well their year has gone that this time they’ve not only graduated to the much bigger Electric Ballroom, but have filled it virtually to capacity. The duo play a mixture of old favourites and new material, joined on stage for the latter by a bassist and a drummer. The new songs are typical Slow Club fare, if a little more complex, and they bode well for the forthcoming new album. It’s hard to shake the feeling that Slow Club are a band who are at their finest in more intimate settings, but they still put on a great show, moving between boisterous and melancholy and taking the crowd with them as they do.
Jonquil The Monarch
It is inevitable with such a sprawling beast as the Camden Crawl that the best laid plans will come a cropper at least once, and we are unfortunate enough to arrive at The Monarch in time for only the last song of Jonquil’s set. Nevertheless, their sunny afrobeat-inspired indie is worth our efforts - even if we do get just three or four minutes of it - and judging by the chorus of calls for an encore the crowd deem their show a success.
P Money Camden Rock
Part of the South London OGz grime crew, P Money has been working extraordinarily hard in recent months, dropping release after release and generally establishing himself as a key name to watch. One of a small number of urban acts at Camden Crawl (though there are more and more each year) he still pulls in a decent sized crowd, most of whom are familiar enough with his tunes to know many of the words. Playing a set that sits at the eskibeat end of the grime spectrum, his flow is fast and dextrous and his instrumentals highly energetic. It’s the rowdiest show that we’ve seen all day, and a great way to bring our Crawl to an end.