The Camden Crawl is a music lover’s dream come true.
50 bands, some up and coming, some more established, cram into Camden’s many gig venues, from the spacious and well decorated to the dingy holes in the wall, with the punters pacing it up and down Camden High Street in an effort to see as many acts as possible within the allocated number of hours.
2005 saw the event return to the live scene after an extended absence, and after the success of this year’s bash, it looks like it’ll be a firm fixture of the alternative music calendar for some time to come.
2006′s line-up was as strong as ever, with the likes of Dirty Pretty Things, The Futureheads, Guillemots, The Pipettes, Larrikin Love and Wolfmother heading up the bill and no doubt causing many a dilemma over who to see. However, the more experienced crawler will know that with a bit of planning and a little bit of luck, there’s no reason why one can’t catch up to six different sets.
And so with that in mind, this reviewer, armed with a programme and a map of the sprawling North London suburb, set out to achieve this very feat. The first port of call was Colour Bar to catch New Rhodes‘ 6.30pm slot. The evening couldn’t have got off to a better start – the Bristol quartet sailed through their 35-minute set with a visible passion, with the guitars as tight and the choruses as catchy as they’ve ever been. A couple of new tracks were aired alongside the old favourites, and in the recently coined I’m Bored Of You, they’ve a potential classic up their sleeve. With their debut album slated for a late-summer release, their time is surely just around the corner.
It was then on to the first of many tough choices of the evening. Was it to be Oxford odd-balls The Young Knives at the Electric Ballroom, or the ’70s speed punk of Louie at the Underworld? A toss of the coin said Louie, and we weren’t to be disappointed – their set proved to be one almighty boot up the backside. Singles Trees and The Curves And The Bends were mile-a-minute highlights, but the entirety of their performance oozed a real Gallagher belittling attitude and swagger. Watch them take 2006 by the scruff of its neck.
The 8.15pm slot belonged only to one band, and that was Larrikin Love. And it was clear that this was a sentiment held by many, as the crowd inside the Electric Ballroom testified – the atmosphere was quite simply electric, and as the young scamps raced through their ska/reggae/punk/folk infused numbers, the roars of approval were no less than deafening. Recent single Edwould provided some real aural pleasure by way of its blistering guitar solos, and suggested that their forthcoming album The Freedom Spark may well be the revelation of the year. In terms of a devotional following, expect this bunch to pick up where The Libertines left off.
Koko was next on the agenda to catch skewed popsters Guillemots, and although taking a couple of songs to really find their stride, we were treated to euphoric renditions of singles We’re Here and Trains To Brazil, as well as their trademark tour de force of a set closer Sao Paulo. This is a band that shouldn’t be confined to a mere 35 minutes, however, and when they left it almost felt like a close friend abandoning you.
Still, that’s festivals for you, and with little time to waste it was up to the other end of the High Street to catch The Pipettes’ 10.25pm headline slot. And for those who were lucky enough to squeeze into the packed-to-the-rafters G-Lounge, the three girls from Brighton delivered a wilding entertaining 40 minutes of luscious, harmony filled, hook laden pop. Some may well cry novelty, but tonight they proved they’ve got the songs to make it big, not one falling by the wayside in terms of quality. When they closed with their rampaging theme tune We Are The Pipettes, it was nods of approval and smiles all round.
It was then time for the ‘special guest’ slots that began at 11.30pm at just three of the venues. The Futureheads were billed at Koko, Dirty Pretty Things were set to play the Electric Ballroom and Supergrass were on at The Dublin Castle, a 150-capacity pub, for what would be their smallest UK show for over 10 years.
With all queues as long as that of a social security office on dole collection day, there was little hope of an encore for many. The tricks of the trade, however, saw me slip into Dirty Pretty Things half way through, to see Carl and co. charging through cuts from thier forthcoming debut album. Closing with current sing-along inducing single Bang Bang You’re Dead, it was a fine end to a night that promised much for the state of the British music scene. If this is anything to go by, the summer’s going to be one to remember.