Live Music + Gig Reviews

The Camden Crawl 2010: Day 2 @ Various Venues in Camden, London

1 May 2010

Red Bull had thrown a party of sorts together on a closed road during the afternoon. Rolo Tomassi, whose Diplo-produced album is imminent, spent some time at it, alternating between screamy vocals and jazz noodling in one of the quirkiest sets of the Crawl so far.

By contrast, the first of the Roundhouse’s sets tonight was also screamy, but rather less quirky. Blackout were effectively the warm-up act for Lostprophets, with black the de rigeur colour of attire on stage. When the cartographically incapable preachers showed up there was plenty of audience interaction; a burly barechested blokey moshpit formed in the centre of the audience. A Roundhouse first?

In the Jazz Caf, amid the Crawl’s most sophisticated environs, Casiokids got the early evening punters dancing. The Norwegians’ set of bouncy, clever electropop closed with Fot I Hose, and by then everyone in the room was dancing with wide grins plastered across their appreciative faces.

Across the road at the Dublin Castle Alan Pownall was smart and welcoming, looking every inch Nick Clegg’s long-lost twin brother. Slightly worryingly. His brand of inoffensive, cheery coffee table music was a light addition to a bill otherwise focused principally on rock and its subgenres. Meanwhile, Villagers was again MIA.

Further north, the Barfly was enforcing a one-in-one-out policy as hot-to-trot tipster recommendation Gold Panda fired up. Donning a panda hat with baubles, he lost himself in his intricate though propulsive beats, moving easily to 16-beat/15-step moments as a rapt audience – at the front, at least – nodded along appreciatively. We would happily have stayed for more.

Having avoided it on Saturday, we finally succumbed to the horror of the Black Cap for Chew Lips. The band released a genuinely exciting debut album earlier this year but you’d have been hard-pressed to guess that today. You were hard-pressed in any case, mainly by other people’s elbows. Vocalist Tigs just about held the attention of the room as the audience struggled for air. She’s a teenage Karen O, which is to say awkward and not quite yet fully formed, but well worth keeping your eyes on. They’ll surely go on to bigger and better things.

After serious overcrowding on Saturday, the Dublin Castle was being drip fed a crowd today. This was bad news for the many people waiting in vain to see Lonelady, and for Lonelady herself, for whom the venue could only have been half full. The good news for those who missed out is that they didn’t miss much. She whipped through her set with two band mates, all showing the sort of enthusiasm you’d expect at a sound check.

Having missed them yesterday we made a call at the Jazz Caf for Skepta; only to witness what passed for a Chippendales tribute and a bout of fisticuffs at the audience’s stageward end. Clearly they’d stirred something up, even if it was mainly a ruckus.

Babybird have been enjoying something of a revival of late. Singer-songwriter Stephen Jones is his own chief revisionist, playing the hedonistic rock star while carrying an albatross the weight of 1996’s Number 3 hit You’re Gorgeous around his neck. He is in antagonistic mood tonight. He bristles at the rumours that Johnny Depp might join them on guitar for the show, and when one drunken punter yodels You’re Gorgeous at him he tells him he’s at the wrong gig before threatening to put on a balaclava and kill him. In the eye. With a stick. He turns his ire on the entire audience when they fail to complete a lyric for him, shouting “You don’t even know who we are, do you?” It’s a strange way to win friends and influence people but his nihilism adds an extra spark to a powerful, driven set of wittily written rock’n’roll songs. Let the revisionism continue apace!

As we move towards the late shift, the crowds in Camden show no sign of dissipating. The promise of a Bank Holiday Monday, coupled with today’s merciful lack of rain, means that the parties keep on long into the night. Taking the stage at midnight, DFA’s YACHT should be perfectly placed to capture that mood, but something doesn’t quite click. Claire L Evans throws some serious shapes but the audience aren’t quite sold. When she asks “Do you like punk rock?” they reply with ambivalent shrugs. The band had played a support gig for LCD Soundsystem in Bristol earlier in the evening; their commitment couldn’t be faulted.

Drums Of Death finish KOKO’s line-up in much more direct, energetic style. Colin Bailey has expanded to a full band since his last Crawl performance, and that frees him up to interact more directly with the audience and they responded with adoration. Their only complaint was that KOKO seemed intent on quieting him down. Their sound system never quite matched his ambition.

In 2011 the Camden Crawl expands further, becoming a three-day event. It’s deservedly a fixture in the festival schedules, growing inexorably since its days as a one-evening affair, but closer attention needs to be paid to the scheduling. Staggering sets would allow more acts to be seen, with less hanging about. Organisers should also do a sundance. It still has the potential to be really special, with a bit of luck and some refinement.

  1. The Camden Crawl 2010:
    Day 1 | Day 2

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