Festival Preview: Camden Crawl 2008

01 April 2008

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the Camden Crawl should be flattered indeed.

The Shoreditch Crawl, christened the Stag & Dagger Festival, launches this year. One wristband gets you, the audience member, into all the participating venues, subject to capacity. This is how NW1’s little event began.

For 2008, the Camden Crawl’s seventh year is more of a Camden Sprawl, taking up two days and nights, 25 venues and showcasing something like 130 bands and artists.

49.20 is the increased (and rather startling) charge for a wristband for the two days (29.70 for one day passes) this time round, but Camden Council has still not built a monorail between Mornington Crescent and Chalk Farm. So if you’re going, make sure you have comfortable and durable footwear. Walking backwards and forwards from KOKO to the Enterprise is not something to be undertaken in heels. Or flip-flops.

Kicking off on Friday at noon, once you’re wristbanded up you’ll have a choice of unsigned band showcases, forums, acoustic sessions and, new for this year, comedy and film elements. As the clock ticks towards evening, you’ll already have decided which venue you’re heading to first from the guide you’ll have picked up at the start. You might even have made something like a loose plan of which bands you want to see where in order of priority. If you haven’t, be warned – you run the serious risk of spending a frustrating evening in queues and seeing very little. But with a little planning you can have an experience to cherish.

While most of the venues are of limited capacity, helpfully, several acts are playing on both days, giving you more chance to view rather than queue. Don’t be surprised if you can’t get in everywhere whenever you fancy – if you turn up to see a headline act at the Dublin Castle 15 minutes before they’re due to start, the queue will speak volumes for your chances. Amy Winehouse played this inimitable boozer the other year, and it was one-in-one-out all night, hours before her alloted stage time.

But you have 24 other choices. If you don’t spend too much time walking up and down Camden High Road, you’ll hopefully be able to mix and match between bands you’re aware of, and bands you’ve yet to hear of. If you’ve not seen at least one act that’s new to you by the end of Saturday night, you’re doing this all wrong. Think of the Camden Crawl as a way to discover new music.

So, what of the bands and artists? There are the inevitable “secret headliners” to spice things up, but there are plenty of names on the bill who are already achieving fame and fortune. At the time of writing, Sam Sparro‘s hook-laden electropop stomper Black And Gold was sitting pretty at number two in the UK singles chart. He’s playing both days. And for those so spoilt for choice that they’d prefer something basic and reassuring, there’s always The Fratellis.

From an electronic background though sounding not a bit alike, new Modular signings Ladyhawke and Swedish chart-busting bombshell Robyn both play Friday, while Ms Carlsson’s compatriots Slagsmalsklubben and France’s M83 will polish their synth collections on Saturday. And if you’ve yet to see Canadian duo Crystal Castles (and portable strobelight), where have you been?

Plenty of guitar-led indie is on offer too of course, ranging from acts who’ve been around a while – Jeremy Warmsley, The Noisettes, Metronomy, Los Campesinos!, Eugene McGuinness and the excellent The Shortwave Set – to debuting acts from the UK and beyond.

We’ve recommended six acts for each day below. But if all this sounds good bar the price, why not get into it all for free, on us? Throughout the year musicOMH will be giving away pairs of tickets to festivals, starting with the Camden Crawl. So if you fancy saving yourself nearly 100, check out the ticket giveaway page. Don’t say we’re not good to you.

Six Of The Best: Friday

Agaskodo Teliverek Myspace
Hi-NRG weirdness allededly from Hungary that they claim is “screamo/happy hardcore/surf” but which sounds like a big bag of fun, whatever it is.

Esser Myspace
Ben Esser claims to be pop. He’s a laptop kid and his music sits somewhere between The Streets and a Fisher Price playgroup.

Tronik Youth Myspace
Stabs of cheap-n-cheerful electro from remix artist Neil Parnell, whose beats are quite irresistable.

Soko Myspace
Unfairly labelled France’s answer to Kate Nash, you get two Sokos for the price of one, with an acoustic set at the Spread Eagle in the late afternoon in addition to her main set in the evening.

Yoav Myspace
International jetsetter with cheekbones that can kill, Yoav makes dance (specifically trance) music with an acoustic guitar, his voice, some pedals and a sampler.

Youthmovies Myspace
Inventive prog-pop from the bits of Youthmovies that didn’t become Foals. Not easy listening, but worth the effort.

Six Of The Best: Saturday

The Bookhouse Boys Myspace
The missing link between Muse’s mariachi tendencies and Nick Cave’s fire and brimstone, this nine-piece have a horn section and rawk.

Slagsmalsklubben Myspace
Bonkers 8-bit Swedes in neon colours tour with Hadouken! later this spring.

Effi Briest Myspace
Seven women from Brooklyn named after a novel published in 1894. What more do you need?

Kode 9 Myspace
Dub meets grime in an act that sounds like nothing else in this festival.

Circulus Myspace
For a touch of the psychedelic, you could do much worse than these boys from Michigan.

Jay Jay Pistolet Myspace
Cutesy folksy whimsical goodness.

Take Your Pick Which Day

Sam Sparro MySpace
One of the first UK gigs for Australian-born LA resident. One for lovers of the poppier end of the music spectrum.

Thecocknbullkid Myspace
Her real name is Anita Blay and her debut album is co-produced by Metronomy. She lists M.I.A. and Madonna amongst her influences. The UK’s answer to Santogold?

Ladyhawke Myspace
Modular-signed Antipodeans remind curiously of Blondie, with their fusion of electro and classic rock.

Lykke Li MySpace
Stockholm starlet Lykke Zahrisson’s debut album has been produced by one third of Peter, Bjorn And John, namely Bjorn Yttling. She tours with El Perro Del Mar later this year.

The Camden Crawl takes place on 18 and 19 April 2008 at various Camden venues. Two-day tickets cost 49.20 and one-day tickets cost 29.70 and are available from here.

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