The Rumblestrips, The Whip, Bonde Do Role, Kate Nash, Tiger Force - Camden Crawl Diary 2007 Part 2.
Charlie Southwell 10/05/2007
My Camden Crawl Diary Part 2.
CAMDEN CRAWL 2007 - FRIDAY 20TH APRIL
I wasn't sure what to do on Friday, after heading into Camden. Shopping? See the sights? Sit in the worlds end listening to the smörgåsbord of sounds? Or maybe a trip to the Bar Vinyl to see the final of the Red Stripe Indie Idol? I volunteered for the latter after the constant momentary indecisions I'd been encountering throughout the whole event.
The bands are fighting it out to play a set at the Underworld in Camden at midnight as part of The Camden Crawl. The panel of judges - which consisted of XFM's John Kennedy, eminent journalist Mark Beaumont, Paul Harris from B-Unique and Richard O'Donovan from Universal - vote to put their favourite band through.
This isn't so much a venue, as a record shop with a bar attached. Nice idea!!! It's long thin and narrow. Art prints being sold as they hang on the walls like a gallery. This is true culture I love it. The PA was at the bottom of the shop as were the bands and judges. I sat near the bar at a table, drinking the fabled red stripe. Kinda odd. But hey. Its all cool.
Edelweiss Pirates - Bar Vinyl - 1:30pm
These rebellious 'indie punk' reprobates are probably in real life, a little geeky. The foursome name themselves after, a German scout like organisation, these guys paid a little attention in their history lessons. The Pirates were an underground group set up to keep some of the youth out of the Nazi party's 'Hitler Youth'. Anyways. These lads sound to me rather like what would happen if Razorlight covered The Sex Pistols. That's right. And what's more is we know Johnny Borrel is the best singer in the world. So how else could they cover a legendry band such as the pistols, besides just playing it in Razorlight's generic boring dull indie way. In all honesty their set got better, Foo's influences were there and started to really get into it later on in their set. Especially at their punkier moments but they keep rolling back into what they think is cool instead of what they all clearly enjoy more. Please. Leave those harmonies alone. And learn more interesting chord progressions. But what do I know? These guys probably know they are the best thing since sliced cheese portions. Or not.
I have to admit I became disillusioned with this great little bar, as the music wasn't really doing it for me, so I left before 35 Seconds [who went on to win the competition] played.
This truly is a tiny little pub. A nice local looking pub that Id spend time in if I wanted a Traditional English hangout in the middle of Camden. I came here looking for a 'lecture' about the music industry, where they told all there that you have to be dedicated, really interested in what you do, and be willing to work for nothing and live in a box until you get a breakthrough. It sounds to me quite Student life to be honest. So that's all good. And it has spurred me back into my writing.
Jim Gibson - Oxford Arms - 2pm
A singer/songwriter played before the informal but rather interesting talk. Bob Dylan styled deep lyrics although I don't think he gets close to the iconic sound he produced. It must be the lack of harmonica. He has an amazing voice, not a huge range, but he hit a few high notes without straining like Justin Hawkins. I could imagine some of Jims songs easily fitting in on a Foo's acoustic album. He played an amazing song called Revolution which really captured my imagination. Two thumb up. Given a full band I think he could be massive within the pop scene.
I couldn't find this guy on the interweb which is a real shame, but whilst looking I found this other guy, and his cover of the killer smile like you mean it is amazing you must check it out.
Sol Devious - Worlds End - 2:30pm
Oasis style singing over a slightly electronic blaze. To be honest. It didn't really jump and grab me, and I became tired and a little angry with them after a few songs. Definetly NOT ball grabbing. Nor detestably lame. But I did leave in search of the Rumble strips.
Opposite the Mornington Crescent tube station, this bar is a rather trendy and swish, despite being a bit manky on the outside, its an open bright and great bar. Only problem is you'd play to about 8 rows of people until the bar staff at the bar aren't dancing or interested in the music on offer. The Bar extends around the entire room. But it had a nice comforting atmosphere.
Illustrated Youth - Crescent Bar - 3:30pm
As is the case at many venues on the early crawl, the bands climb through the crowd to get to the stage. Now I was expecting Rumblestrips, but they were much later apparently. Ill be back I noted mentally, in a very un heroic non-Arnie way I hasten to add. There was duck tape on the drummers hi-hats, just from that I knew they were going to be loud, and he was going to be a bit good.
After the initial cymbals beaters on the ride cymbal to create a huge soundscape for their opening song. They bobbed into post-shoegaze tunes. There was a definite nod to 80s bands like the cure. Joy division, whilst still maintaining the modern mod sound that is all to popular if a little wishy washy right now. They held everyone's attention with their jumpy brand of indie-pop. Although past the standing drummer, to be honest it was pretty standard trendy music. But they did give out free CDs. Which endeared them to me, a little.
I took a stroll up the Camden High Street tried to buy a bacon sandwich but the breakfast had finished at 12. what do they know? Pssscht. So I ended up going elsewhere and buying an Almond Coissant and a pie. Mmmm. I briefly Met Calvin Harris and band outside the Black Cap. They were enthused and recognised the man with the sign as they put it. Upon complimenting each others clothing, we departed company. Them off for considerably cheaper [free] beers than me, and I to wonder back to the worlds end.
BONDE DO ROLE - Oxford Arms - 4:15pm
Getting distracted I went back to Camden's favourite local pub. To witness a stripped down performance from Brazilian Trio Bonde Do Role. An amazing spectacle. I wanted to dance but the pub had too may tables to do so sensibly. I just stood in awe at the fantastic performance and the surreality of this sight. Electro backing and shouts towards Kraftwerk appear now and again. The bouncing trio, one man, one sexy lady turned this pub into their stage. Catchy tunes but invariably not head implanting on first listen. With a bigger room full of sweaty people I can imagine the French would steal these lot to sort out their problems with nuclear power. Mmm sweatshops.
Definitely recommended though!!
People's Revolutionary Choir - Worlds End - 4:30pm
I'd been looking forward to seeing this bunch for a while now, I wasn't as impressed as I'd have liked to have been. Maybe it was the dingy dark atmosphere. The laid back attitude of everyone there. A Heaving crowd yet, little participation and a general lack of interest. I'm not sure. But the dirty six piece come across better on record. The bearded guitarist looks odd with the rest of the band. That aside there is a nice use of the posing female keyboardist. The mix was too bassy and the vocals got lost. A huge disappointment for the build up I had personally given it. A real shame as their single is great.
I left and ran down to see if the Rumblestrips had started yet.
Rumblestrips - Crescent Bar - 4:50pm
So I sauntered down to the venue. Ah. Huge queue. Little did I know this would be how the rest of the evening would fare. With little troubles last night with queues, I was very surprised to see this and a little gutted. But from my previous knowledge of the venue, there was a window behind the stage. Its not clever [well maybe a bit], its not big. It's certainly not cool. But I got to see the band, from a roadies POV. Albeit shoved out in the sun behind a pane of glass.
But these guys kicked off a huge amount of energy the brass stabs, a left handed drummer exuded so much energy himself I thought the French may come and steal him for their sweatshop too. Luckily I was there guarding the back door and window. Had the window have been open-able I'm sure I would have done the roadie thing and chuck him a towel. But he wasn't quitting a thing, not dropping a beat. The Rumblestrips sensation has been propelled by their somewhat ludicrous attempt at publicity with their 9 ft bass drum that had been sitting at the end of Camden for the two days opposite the venue.
A really amazing band that I'm gutted I hadn't been there to smell the alcohol off their breath, that's the real beauty of the Camden Crawl. Such intimacy with these bands is something you just won't get at festivals later in the year.
After a brief queuing intermediary, where I was thrust a free magazine, preview. I was so annoyed I made it into a plane shaped thing and threw it. It didn't fly. So it really was the most disappointing thing that happened to me in London. Not even French power-slave snafflers could have made me more disappointed. After all the annoyance you get with free papers being thrust into your hands at least they have words and stories about real life. The cheek of this though, its just a sample of the magazine, telling you to go buy it, I got so vitriolic I cant even remember the name of the magazine for worry of I may one day end up reading it mistakenly, or god forbid buying it.
Kate Nash - Electric Ballroom (FROG) - 6:15pm
Anyway we eventually shuffled into the gig, past those bag searching demons on the doors. So Thorough. JOKE. Kate Nash will probably never get rid of this comparison so let make it quick. Lily Allen. There I did it. Kate Nash has a unique repetitive talkative and chatty performance. A really charming character and seemed nervous to be playing her biggest London show to date. Her chatty lyrics are well thought out whilst still being almost pub mate talk. Story telling and emotion provoking song 'Birds' really shined. Whilst not my usual electro shenanigans, there were beautiful moments of synth. Her set boasts expletives and a trendily constructed songs. Her nervousness makes her seem more down to earth than the cockiness of other pop stars which I like a lot. I doubt next time I see her there will be that feeling. These songs will embed themselves in your head. 'Caroline's a victim'. Even chance for a litte dance to those 'killer killer killer killer killer killer beats'.
I really enjoyed her set and wondered out into the Camden air, humming tunes to myself. Looking at my program Foals looked like a good go. Sadly the underworld was already packed. I could have stayed in the queue but I thought nahhhhh.
So went to see if I could get into Calvin Harris. That was a funny funny thing. Longer queue still. No chance. OK… so I gave up on the possibility of seeing a band at this time. Who did I want to see next? Cajun Dance Party? I Am Kloot? Fear Of Flying? Frank Turner? I Say Marvin? The list went on. Yet another decision to make. Garn.
I stupidly thought. Hmmm Barfly is reasonably big. Cajun Dance Party are supposed to be cool. So I walked to the other end of Camden.
Between my wandering I briefly saw a wonderfully clamorous song by a band playing at the Fopp, who I thought were called Pilotscope. But I think I am wrong as I can't find anything on the internet about such a band. *shrugs*
To see an EVEN BIGGER BLOODY QUEUE. Now it was entertaining, to an extent. Had some drunk nutters behind me, I seem to attract them, absolutely crazy. They were kind enough in fairness to wait with me until we squeezed into the doors, before deciding they couldn't be bothered at the sight of the queue winding all round the bottom floor. I didn't really want to wait further so I milled about a bit and jumped in with a rather friendly guy who told me to fuck off. I went to the toilets and re-joined the queue at the bottom of the stairs. A bit cheeky. BUT no way was i waiting another hour to find my feet were horribly stuck to the floor of the now legendry floors that adorn any chain venue. Anyone would think that drunk people must find themselves stuck to the floor and in desperate attempt to free themselves of the dreaded venue pour their beer over their feet in an attempt to get away. I think I Digress. Again.
Cajun Dance Party - Barfly - 8pm
So after dodging a couple of those lengthy queues and joining that larger one. And then avoiding half of that, I attempted to order some drink. Another queue. I could cry. Honestly. Now don't get me wrong Cajun Dance Party played well, and with some authority as a band that are becoming rather popular so quickly. Just I cant help but think. Kooks. A bit happier. Maybe even more attractive with a lovely polka dotted lady to capture your attention.
Now the most attention that this band attracted was the scene girl who invaded the stage. She grabbed lead singer Daniel, who just didn't want to be manhandled. Her friends took pictures of her dancing onstage with an unwilling CDP. After they finished that song all the band members walked off to the edge of the stage, whilst she pronounced to the crowd. ' I am in the house'. To a rather overwhelming, given the nature of the bands music, rapturous booing. She was removed. The band carried on. But nothing was really going to beat the enthusisasm for that booing. The songs weren't inspired and the band looked tired out.
I left in search of Friendly Fires. A short walk across the way was the Cuban Bar. Where there was the smallest queue id been in all night. I got conned into signing upto a mailing list of a band I hadn't heard of before for some badges. Then the girl told me she run out. Thanks.
Born Ruffians - Cuban Bar - 8:40pm
Another of these folk/indie rock loving bands greeted me as I galumphed into the venue as fast as my weary legs could take me. (I love that galumph is a real word… I thought id made it up. Ha ha.) This powerful three piece were Born Ruffians. Wild looking hair, they could be lumberjacks, and they're ok. They produced a rather catchy tune 'This Sentence' and the chorus goes like this.
'Hey Hey Hey Hey Hey Hey Hey Hey'
They finished with a new tune. This is a band with a little investment of time could become your favourite band. And if Larrikin were up your alley you might want to take these home with you too.
After this set I met a lovely lady who was writing and called herself Erika. Nice girl and we hung out for the rest of the evening. We stuck about to see Friendly Fires as was already my plan.
Friendly Fires - Cuban Bar - 9pm
Infectious Riotous Disco party animals Friendly Fires blasted through a set of incidents. Tripped the power. Ooops. Broke the smoke machine. Fell off the stage. Knocking the samplers off their table. In between the accidents Drum and percussion fillers were incredible especially as the power went down. Lights out. The band up close and personal just bashed the living crap out of everything on stage. Except each other. They have just about every percussive instrument you could ever dream of. Bar your kitchen sink. But I'm sure they'd give that a once over if you brought one with you. This bass driven rabble were LOUD. FUN. And out to Party and hard as they could. The singer during frustration after everything had broken ripped a speaker (albeit accidentally, as he tried to swing on it) off the ceiling. This bunch I will certainly being seeing again for their sheer amount of noise and trendiness.
With a 16trk sampler, an 8trk minidisk player obligatory synth, guitar and bass, you cant really ask a lot more from a bunch of warm hearted guys. Awesome.
Now leaving this venue I wasn't sure where to go. Was tempted by Warner's brightest new signings Hadouken! But the queue was a complete joke. Thought about maybe seeing Travis, but their new single is DIRE. The Charlatans don't really do it for me, and I was too tired to trek down to see BRMC when it was already probably packed.
So. Tiger Force were the obvious replacements. If I could find The Camden Tup… And I tell you what. That map is lies. Absolutely rubbish. We did get there eventually but it took a while. Walking into the venue I heard Metronomy bouncing off the walls. Yey. I do love those lads.
Normally this is probably a fine venue. But walking in when I did, to an almost empty bar. Floor filled with plastic cups. It was a disappointing scene. Messy Ugly. No monitors on stage. I mean Air Traffic had just played there, so that must have been a bit busy. But now it was dead. Everyone in the queue for Hadouken! Probably. Losers.
Tiger Force - Camden Tup - 10:30pm
Now this was a weird position to be in in the middle of about 10 people watching a band 'headline' an evening stage in the middle of Camden during a festival. Apparently this duo are exciting so say some of the magazines I read. Now. I would quite like to shoot whomever had said these things. It was just painful. Two out of tune shouty drunken yobs with duel vocals singing over each other. It sounded like a fight for attention. I don't think I've ever heard polite applause for a band before, not even the horrors. And they were disappointing, even when I had no hope they would be any good. The guys had no arrogance to pull off a slutty night time performance. They were on a hip-hop grime helterskelter that they slid down, dirtily, trashily and with no dignity. Had some Tango voice distorters, that made little difference except they looked a bit more silly. Sadly on the CC2007 CD Syntax Error is actually one of my highlights. But live I was wanting to tear off my ears in protest. But the hobo stood behind me could have been their father. I didn't want to offend outright. Uncomfortable. We left mid set in an attempt to see if the Hadouken! Queue had disappeared. It had actually gotten bigger. Mental.
Its fine I thought. The Whip are playing at The Barfly so my legs carried me there. I didn't want my Camden Crawl to end on that disappointment.
The Whip - Barfly - 12pm
The sweaty Barfly, was reduced to a jumping hollering mess, for the finale of the live acts, this end of Camden. They band played furious electronic disco breaks. The women drummer caused a stir amongst the student clientele. 'Trash' has an immense electro-clash vibe and easily a track that should appear in discothèques around the country. It just builds and builds, until there is nothing to do but jump and shout the anthem back at the band. Just an amazing end to my Camden crawl!
I didn't fancy hanging around for anon. guest DJs. Yeah, you heard right. A little pet hate, I don't get this craze with cool people doing DJ sets. Its ace if you know them, but your just listening to their taste in music. As cool as that is: It could just be anyone. Especially when bands end up playing in four different clubs on the same night, and there are a few that end up doing it. It's just not cool. I realise there is money in a brand, and it's a great floor filler. But Argh! Let us know who they are at the least. *shrugs* Camden's venues need a year to recover properly from the havoc created. But I doubt they shall remain empty like Glastonbury Last summer.
I had fun missing my tube stop because I was so hypnotised by the inside of the tube train, that I had to mess about on night busses for ages. And I forgot that Travel lodge cards get reset daily, or by each use or something. Ooops. Making noise getting confused as to why I couldn't get into my room. And it was my room. I wasn't mistaken or ought. Was entertaining though.
I just can't wait to see more gigs this coming year and hopefully seeing some of the aforementioned bands growing into something grand. Thanks for reading my lengthy diary.
Wait for later diaries. Brighton great escape and Glastonbury are both on the cards.