Calvin Harris, Goose, Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man, Shy Child, Ash - My Camden Crawl Part 1.
Charlie Southwell 05/05/2007
I arrived in London the day prior to the Camden crawl. Excited with anticipation I spent it eagerly bouncing, hopping from foot to foot. Met up with a friend, and had some coffee, before heading out to see Ash perform at an in-store at Virgin mega stores on Oxford Street. Armed with my wristband, I hiked down the stairs to stand in wait of my first BIG in-store experience. My only other previous ones were crummy acoustic artists, and some guy pretending he was a trendy 'all this' electro sensation [Tom Vek]. He failed with his tiny keyboard and effects pedal. Back to Ash… I met another friend in the venue area, and proceeded to try and get excited by Ash live. They almost got there with new single but I have to say their old material let me appreciate their song writing a lot more, one feels they are trying too hard to catch up on new commercial trends. Their drummer was going crazy, sweating professionalism, whilst delivering their 'unique' bubblegum-indie. When the whole thing drew to a close, I went to the pub, had a few pints then headed back to Brixton and got drunk with another friend. YEY. Was a crazy little Taco bar though.I Wasn't into the football they were watching in the next room, but nice for what it was.
CAMDEN CRAWL 2007 - THURSDAY 19th APRIL
Upon awaking the next morning. Camden Crawl's first waking morn. I leapt out of bed and hopped onto the tube to get straight to Camden. I headed straight for the queue to exchange my tickets for a wristband, and crikey, it was a long queue. From 11 until 1, I waited, and carried on waiting in the sweltering sun. It was nice though. The Queue itself only proceeded to grow during the hours I was waiting, and there were still remnants of the queue as I left having seen the first act of the Camden crawl. Free magazines/newspapers/stickers/flyers/badges were all thrust into our queuing hands and kept us all entertained until we arrived at the four people dishing out our free CDs and wristbands. Along with everyone else, I jumped into the only venue that had music on at the time, and sat drinking expensive cider awaiting the opening act.
This is where, I thought I'd do a quick yet rambling scout of each venue, as I visit them until I get too drunk to care anymore... Ill chuck these sections in italics so if your not a geek like me, you can skip them.
So, basically the Worlds End is not entirely geared up for your general music event. But it does have a rather random street sign stolen from Prague five hanging above the bar. That's an area, kind of like your W1 post codes in central London. It only caught my attention because it looked so out of place. I love Prague. The venue reminded me a bit of a Weatherspoons minus the abundance of tables, and crap waiters searching for the right tables, whilst holding their misplaced orders. It was rammed, purely because no other venues had anything on yet, and it was a warm atmosphere. A horseshoe shaped bar, (by that I mean it had three sides not that it was curved... although that would have been amazing.) had the toilets to one side, the open space of the rest of the building directly in front of it and a small stage to the other side. The small stage had a balcony that was cordoned off for the bands. It is a really intimate affair, surrounded on the outside by mock shops giving the whole venue a bit of a vintage Charles Dickens theme. I wasn't wearing a top hat. Sorry.
The venues promoter is putting on a smorgasbord of its best bookings this year. Exciting.
The Procession - FOPP - 6pm
A US surf sounding band, they exuded three part harmonies that Brian Wilson would be jealous of. The band had a good laugh with the small but growing crowd. Their brand of cut back folky singing brought a steady flow of people into the venue. People climbed the stairs to get a better view, and between the laid back, but spot on drumming and the easy going keyboard lines, the lads gave a really fun attitude to everyone present even wishing a fan “happy birthday!” They weren't as twee as The Feeling, and held more attention through their larking about with their PA system adding and dropping reverb off the vocals at random intervals.
Me and Tash decided to run off to get a nice spot for Shy Child.
An odd mix of cultures here, in this weird little venue. A pokey little stage pushed into a corner, which is directly in front of the stage, and about 4 people away is the front of house mixing desk. Behind that, just rows of tables in your standard diner fashion, against the wall and back to back. It's a nice venue and drink prices weren't burning a hole in my pocket. Although this I often found that there was little time to drink in between the jumping to bands that were on. Those tables were the highlight of the venue throughout as people trod all over them, whilst jumping around like loonies. Kudos to whoever sussed out the artists for this venue.
Shy Child - Cuban Bar - 6:45pm
Entering their set with a juicy Keytar synth marathon and the obligatory drumstick splintering, cowbell infected danceathon (that you can expect of any of Wall of sounds artists) they interested people into the open backed venue. Not just one cowbell either. But two! High energy electronic synth, with natural beats drilled my head from the start. Single 'drop the phone' is even better live.
Shy child closed with a song that sounded like a surreal mixture of Blink 182 spitting after swallowing a circuit board, or ten. Shy Child have a real tangibility to their sound and an on stage image that provides much entertainment. These guys are well worth looking out for, supporting Klaxons on their sold out tour later this year.
I ran off after those electro demons had climaxed and emerged from the stage to see a band at the small but incredible NW1 venue, which was hosted by Drowned In Sound.
A venue that's no bigger than your standard unsigned bands gigging venue, that is unassigned to a co-operate mess of chains. Maybe a 250 capacity. Here, I partied alongside Peaches Geldof, I knew was in store for a sonic treat, failing that a really “scene” event, either way by ignoring her and co. I managed to have a good time. I didn't bother pushing to the bar to fill my hands with a grimy larger filled plastic glass. Besides those balloons whizzing about everywhere with a little too much excitement would have been enough to empty it everywhere. A well attended stage on the Thursday evening.
Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man - NW1 - 7:30pm
Clambering through the crowd, they launch onstage and rip the crowd into those who dance to the upbeat tunes and those who stand gob smacked in awe of the comprehensive non-rock 'n' roll lyrics. Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man is what would happen if Madness vs. Art Brut became a reality. Hard, fast, catchy, songs, encouragable sing-a-longs and all that with witty lyricisms of an Art rock band. Squealing Theremin sounding guitars remind me of Frank Zappa era prog, although Psychedelic front man, Fred (ex- Les Incompetents) roared his way through the set sometimes on his knees sometimes leaning out into the crowd over the front row of weary heads. (O.E.L.M Whilst possessing, Possibly.The.Coolest.Band.Name.Ever but have been the cause of my computer hating me. Its underlining the world in bright red zigzags for their benefit, I hope their parents are proud.) At their perkiest, a rather catchy vocal based hook echoes from the crowd. 'oooohhh-woooh ooooh-oooh-oooh ooooh-oh' also known as 'A Matter Of Timing'. Closing with a punky polka influenced song that made me grin from ear to ear.
Also now on tour with The Scare. Watch this space.
I ran off as is the norm at the Camden Crawl to the next venue and next artist that intrigued me.
A large venue, its amazing, until beer is thrown at your short clad legs, by the most endearingly stuck up scene 'im only here cos its cool' scenesters. Later on you get miffed as to why you are stuck in a venue that has a faint smell of vomit about it. Ah. Your feet are stuck to the floor. Otherwise the balconies and not so roomy but large amount of floor space add up to a wonderful venue. A theatrical arena to set up some of the bigger names, staggered through the night, off beat to the other venues on the Camden crawl.
KILLA KELLA - KOKO - 8:45pm
This guy has an amazing voice box. Beastly Beatboxing! He's the king of the collaboration. And that guy out of Police academy would be jealous of dis guyz vocal skillz. Kick drum, Snare, Hi hat, Scratching, Bass and Vocals, whilst dancing about he is the truly a one man band. Accompanied onstage by a couple of other fabulous artistes including MC Trip whose crowd free styling around the front line was amazing, dubbing the fat bald guy near me 'Phil Mitchell' and told the scenesters behind me that they “smelled of BO,” before ending his sublime performance with some trash talking about Kate Moss saying she'd “snort his shoes, they are that white...”
After this set both me and Tash ran to see Calvin Harris, and to our surprise running up Camden in front of us was Calvin himself. We didn't mug him, but left him to it. Back to the Cuban bar it was for this new Electro pop sensation.
SCANNERS - Cuban Bar - 9:45pm
We ran back into the venue, as Scanners were finishing up their rapturous, if a little lonely performance. Two guys, two girls, form this meek and yet powerful band. An atmospheric yet angsty mashed up sound causes commotion to my ears but their incessant, we are so 'cool' mood switched when they started flinging themselves off the side of the stage into Tash and I, breaking all their strings. Right. Like your Nirvana or something! * This was the first disappointing performance I'd witnessed at the crawl. Maybe I just wasn't up for them and had missed their good songs at the start of their set?
*NB - If they turn into a cult status I hereby declare I found them first. Nirvana had 3 people at their first gig, and got slated by press initially. But I wonder which ones gonna die… Eeny Meeny Miny mo.
“Acceptable in the 80s” has launched Calvin Harris into the top 10 of the charts, and into a media frenzy. Still pre-album and these guys have an amazing reputation, and that's before I've seen them live. Touring with Faithless and later Groove Armada, before headlining their own tour these guys are destined to take their foot stomping, jive disco all round the country and god knows, maybe even further. Lets hope so. Eeeeeeeeeee.
CALVIN HARRIS - Cuban Bar - 10pm
Their energised electro vibes were almost quashed before they even entered the stage with a drunken and delicious looking scenester* fucking about with settings (by falling) on the keyboards. Calvin's sound engineer sorted her out, and shouted at the security to do his job properly. Which kept me entertained pre set.
*(you couldn't eat a whole one)
Calvin Harris and Co entered the stage to a huge welcome, this was gonna be big. The bar had suddenly been swarmed; a queue formed to get in, one in one out, no one was leaving. Right from the outset, the band held the crowd's attention, making them sweaty with excitement and raw energy. Everyone went crazy and jumped with lead singer Calvin's actions. Seriously these guys are going to be THE summer band. The Cuban Bars tables were seriously under strain as multiple people jumped to gain a better view of the band. No one was left untouched from these disco vibes. All that said, those few stupid scene girls fought for the bands undivided attention. These Scottish electro lads, soon to be legends, could be just the thing to destroy that culture. Hopefully with them all those fashionable groupie ladies killing each out of lust for their heroes will leave just me to chat and drink beer with them. YEY. =D
For the crawl this performance will take some beating. I did take out my pad mid set (whilst jumping, naturally) and wrote 'ACE!' just to show them I appreciated their immediate efforts. I will CERTAINLY be seeing this bunch again. I can't believe how I managed to jump throughout their entire set. It's been a while since a band did that to me. WOW.
BLACK GHOSTS - Cuban Bar - 12am
I stayed to watch these, with the persuasion of good friend Tash, sadly the rest of the venue didn't have such persuasive friends. The majority left for Ex Simian singer Simon Lords new project The Black Ghosts. Most of what I have said before about this bunch still stands really. They have good songs, and occasional brilliance but they are much like a BLT sandwich bought from a supermarket chain. Loaded with the cheap rabbit food and mayo, not enough bacon. This guys need MORE MEATY DANCEABLE RIFFS. Please. I'm glad to note, the cowbell man, despite not playing enough cowbell, can break dance like a beast, and has shaved that monstrous porno handlebar moustache off. He looks better, next for the BG makeover has to be 'Garth' on guitars at the back there. A nice set, but somewhat lacking in the blockbusting tunes one can imagine they have in them. The stage bounced about a bit too much for the guys to have their usual energy, as it was affecting keyboard and laptop stands, which was a shame. Past the singles though, this band could really do MUCH better for themselves.
Next both me and Tash took the hike back to Koko to see Belgian electro gods GOOSE. Not before Test Icicles had a DJ set of which Metronomy - 'You Could Easily Have Me' was my top tune. Shame no one else really knew it.
GOOSE - KOKO - 1am
Keyboardist Dave walked onstage and plonked a key on his keyboard. Cheers bellow around the cavernous venue. Extraordinarily professionally each following member started to pick up their parts until they were ready to launch into the instrumental album opener 'Black Gloves' or that one with the Go-Carts as some of my friends know it. Their electro flurries are superbly intertwined with lyricisms to almost most make you think. But you jump and bounce too high to the beat, for it to sink in. That's what the CD is for. Goose carry you off your feet like you were born to fly. “Koko, Make some Fucking Noise!” Not that we needed any encouraging. Energetic synths drowned out their thirst bringing half hour of power.
After this, and some greasy chips. We attempted to navigate the London night busses to get back to the travelodge. We DID get there. Eventually.
Part Two-FRIDAY TO COME.... with more cool bands, more venues and more bitching.