Live Music + Gig Reviews

Camden Crawl 2011: Day 2 @ Various Venues in Camden, London

1 May 2011

The talking point of Day 2 took place before the evening programme had even begun. Odd Future, or Odd Future, Wolf Gang and Kill Them All (OFWGKTA), if you prefer, are surfing a tsunami of hype, the Californian collective’s constituent members unleashing their various projects within what seems like days of each other. Wolf Gang would play the Forum later in the day in his own right, while Tyler, The Creator has signed to XL and releases debut album Goblin just a week after the Crawl is all crawled out.

And what was the hype about? Well, for anyone in the know, it was all about performance acrobatics mixed with unmitigatedly filthy lyrics. What music there was consisted in the main of some beats and bass to rap over. Thus it was that the Red Bull stage, a temporary construction closing out a road in central Camden, found assorted Odd Future members leaping from speaker stacks, invoking the crowd to break past security and invade the stage (which they duly did), and of course a spot of crowd surfing. If you’re 13 it doubtless all looks jawdroppingly rebellious. Older heads held back and folded arms. For certain though, these eyes have never seen a higher leap from a speaker stack.

For a completely different pace we headed to the splendidly civilized new venue the Forge, with its upstairs gallery restaurant and its white tablecloths, and its downstairs rows of seats and plastic plants wall. Guillemots were compering an afternoon, showing off a short film of their own making and playing a short acoustic set ahead of their full appearance at the Forum later in the evening. Fyfe Dangerfield revelled in his surroundings at the grand piano, showcasing choice cuts from the band’s third album alongside exuberant oldies, not least closer Trains To Brazil.

Canadian bands were in showcase mode up at the Monarch, with Young Empires marrying arms-in-the-air female vocals and quiet-sulky-bloke-in-corner synths, while The History Of Apple Pie somehow crammed their DIY aesthetic into the upstairs room of the Lock Tavern. All this and the sun was still ablaze. A timetabling error sadly meant we caught but the last song of pop merchant Bright Light Bright Light at the Monarch; it was enough to make us wish we’d seen much more. Alas, alas.

Peckham MC Giggs gave the impression of having perfected the art of karaoke hip hop, appearing on the Electric Ballroom’s stage alone but for a microphone. Later, at the same venue, up tripped the now Pirate-less Peggy Sue, the folky threepiece who’ve been a fixture on the festival circuit since many of the bands playing today were just a glimmer in their parents’ eyes. Practice doesn’t seem to have made perfect, however, as their set at the Electric Ballroom was a stilted, rather bland affair. New tracks from their forthcoming release were eminently forgettable, and only a couple of choice morsels from debut Fossils And Other Phantoms kept the audience interested.

At Proud just before the queue for a returning Graham Coxon became unmanageable one of the fringe events played host to The Phantom Band, who seemed to want to set the record for most gigs over the weekend. The band are in a long line of experimental, genre-bending Scottish rockers, whose nods to dance, dubstep and even performance art in their set might have baffled some, but many in the sweaty room were entranced whatever it was, it certainly wasn’t predictable.

One of the most upbeat displays of the day came at the packed Dublin Castle from 25-year-old Hackney girl Cocknbulkid, who has undergone rather a dramatic musical shift since her gloomy, idiosyncratic EP Querelle. Arriving onto the stage in a flurry of hand jives and rnb horns, hers was an exuberant pop display, liberally pinched from the Supremes and Michael Jackson, that affirmed Island Records’ investment in the artist. Every song – Asthma Attack, the shalalas of Mexico was expertly tailored to radio audiences, and, unless she goes the way of the similarly shiny VV Brown, she’ll be further up the bill next time round.

Across the street at the Earl of Camden, an entirely less boisterous event was taking place the slow and slightly muted decline of Banjo Or Freakout. In front of a pretty sparse crowd, the three-piece played ear-bleeding shoegaze pop and while, as shoegaze pop goes, it was perfectly fine, you feel that their moment may have passed. A bit more banjo and a lot more freakout would have perhaps rescued them.

At the Jazz Caf, the queue stretched as far as the eye could see for an opportunity for an intimate audience with grime-pop sensation Tinchy Stryder. A very different crowd to the day’s plaid-shirted 21-year-old indie kids made for a raucous atmosphere, despite there being more than enough space at the back to let the freezing queue in twice over. Tinchy himself was an utterly consummate performer, giving his band and backing singers space enough to impress during his chart-baiting hits Number 1 and Never Leave You. While the songs never really varied from upbeat grime-lite, it was a muscular performance from the star time will tell whether he can produce material that can compete with the more interesting Tinie Tempah.

We’d love to have told you how hilariously pitiful Razorlight‘s descent from the arena-playing stratosphere to playing the afterparty here was, but due to some chaotic queuing we beat a hasty retreat to the Black Cap for the last gig of the evening by noisy indie-punks Johnny Foreigner. Combining Pixies-esque harmonies with Sonic Youth grunge and then lobbing in a dose of excitable Los Campesinos! sugar into the mix, they’re a pretty perfect end to a rather uneven second day.

Long into the night the festival continued, with Simian Mobile Disco taking to the stage of KOKO well after midnight. But hoofing up and down Camden for two days in a row – with forays out to Kentish Town, to boot – had taken their toll. It was time to call it a wrap and to wish the Camden Crawl a happy 10th birthday.

  1. Camden Crawl 2011:
    Day 1 | Day 2

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