CAMDEN ROCKS! (Various Camden Venues) – 30th May 2015

LE - Camden Rocks 30th May! Running now for 6 years, this was Mark K’s first time at Camden Rocks. A day of rock / metal / indie of some 11 bands from a menu of musical awesomeness with drinks in pubs across Camden. Maybe there are some days to beat such a proposition – but they’d have to try pretty damn hard…
(Twitter links of the highs at the bottom)

Camden Rocks has been in existence as a festival for six years, although this is the first year that I have graced it with my presence. It is essentially a rockier and more metallic version of the now defunct Camden Crawl. Well, I thought: what’s not to like???

First stop is the Jazz Café, where shortly after arrival we are entertained by Goldray and their wonderfully theatrical psych prog. They play five songs, all of which clock in at around five to ten minutes. However, at no point is there even any hint of self-indulgence. All killer, no filler. CPP - CR - Goldray

Next up at the Jazz Café are Broken Witt Rebels. They’re from Birmingham, England not Alabama, and they’re very proud of it, as they remind us of the fact constantly. However, despite their West Midlands origins they sing in American accents.

The singer appears to be a fairly small chap and looks like he works in an office. When he opens his mouth though he proves that appearances count for nothing, as his voice is comfortably bigger than Saturn. The band’s riff-driven blues rock is undeniably impressive, one song having a more than competently executed Zep style stop-start riff. One to watch. CPP - CR - Broken Witt Rebels
CPP - CR - Brawlers The final act that I see at the Jazz Cafe are Brawlers. That’s not a description, that’s the name of the band. I’d previously seen them play an incendiary set at the Beatrice pub during the Camden Crawl last year. On that particular occasion vocalist Harry Johns ended up singing whilst standing on the bar. There is no climbing on the venue furniture this time, but the band have a full house for their kinetic yet tuneful punk. No song appears to be over about 1 minute 30 in length, so they certainly can’t be accused of self-indulgence!
From the Jazz Café we head to the Brewdog, where the acoustic stage is located, along with some damn fine beer! The small basement bar is comfortably full, with an at times annoyingly chattering audience. Kerri Watt’s gutsy acoustic torch songs go over well, and she graciously ignores the chatter, thanking the audience after each song. This is in marked contrast to a later artist at the same venue, as we shall see. CPP - CR - Kerri Watt

After failing dismally to get in to see Ginger Wildheart at Proud, we make our way to see Heel at the Cuban Bar. Heel are purveyors of reasonable heavy rock. However, their vocalist Margarita seems to be only on nodding terms with the concept of staying anywhere near in tune. Maybe her monitors were faulty…

CPP - CR - Lips We escape from the Cuban Bar and head for Dingwall’s Canalside Bar, which it has to be said, is indeed a very pleasant venue. Here we encounter Lips, and their heavy yet tuneful indie rock with occasional reggae and ska overtones. They are certainly not averse to tempo changes and their music is interesting and fun. They’re definitely a breath of musical fresh air, and I very much look forward to seeing them again at some point.
The Canalside Bar is next rocked by Duchess, who are a hard rock band fronted by a bloke in drag. To say that they owe a massive debt to Queen doesn’t even begin to do justice to how big that debt is. However, their songs are good and the band are as tight as a gnat’s duff. So sometimes wearing your influences prominently on your ruffed sleeve can be forgiven. CPP - CR - Duchess

The final band we see at the Canalside Bar are Tropical Contact. They play tight, unremarkable pop metal. There is really nothing wrong with their music, other than a lack of imagination. They need to inject some pizzazz to their music and performance if they want in any way to stand out from the other half a million UK bands playing tight unremarkable pop metal.

CPP - CR - The Graveltones After a bite to eat we head to the Barfly to see The Graveltones. The sweaty, black interior of the Barfly is the ideal venue in which to experience the gnarly blues rock of The Graveltones. An Australian duo formed in London playing American music: what’s not to like?
Next up is the Black Heart where the very impressive Black Moth are playing. This is the third time that I’ve seen them, and no matter how small the venue is, in their minds I’m pretty sure they’re playing a stadium. They always put on a show, they seem to enjoy the gig as much as the audience, and best of all, their material is top notch. Most of tonight’s set comes from their excellent Condemned to Hope album. Surely it can only be a matter of time before they ascend to the next rung of the gigging ladder. CA - Black Moth Twitter

Finally we head back to the Brewdog. They have really nice beer there. Playing in the basement is tonight’s final act (well for us anyway), singer/songwriter Rob Lynch. His material is good enough, but not particularly outstanding, although he certainly seems to have some fans in the audience who sing the lyrics back to him. However, there are also a fairly hefty contingent chatting. Rob threatens to stop playing if they continue. Fair enough I suppose, but he still gets the ‘Diva of the Day’ award. He ought to toddle along and see Kerri Watt sometime; he might learn some useful tips in terms of onstage behaviour.

All in all there was an embarrassment of riches on display today, of which I only witnessed a small portion. Camden Rocks is a more than worthy successor to the Camden Crawl. Long may it prosper.

Mark Kelly


Twitter Links for London Bands:

@Goldrayband – “All killer, no filler” – Jazz Cafe

@Lips_Band – “breath of musical fresh air” – Dingwall’s Canalside Bar

 – “tight” – Dingwall’s Canalside Bar

@Graveltones – “gnarly blues rock” – The Barfly


Twitter Links to UK Bands

@Brokenwittrebel – “undeniably impressive” – Jazz Cafe

@wearebrawlers – “kinetic tuneful punk” – Jazz Cafe

@kerriwatt – “gutsy acoustic torch songs” – Brewdog

@blackmothmusic – “top notch” – The Barfly