Who ever thought that putting a music festival on in London on a May Bank holiday weekend probably thought it was a good idea? Granted that extra days recuperation was great, but with general London transport chaos even arriving in Camden would be a half day mission in itself. Luckily for myself and the team, DoesItRock Towers is handily close by. We wandered down to the Roundhouse to pick up the days schedule for day one, laughing in the face of a weather forecast that would make the Outer Hebrides look like the Caribbean.
After seeing the schedule it’s easy to get swamped under the sheer size and scope of the lineup. 17 evening venues and 27 daytime events…where do you start? This of course leads to a music fan’s worst nightmare, clashes! Then you have to filter in the venue choice, venue capacity, arrival times in order to gain entry and if you have to pay extra stealth charges to see bigger bands. So under the enormous strain of options we did what any gaggle of men would do in times of difficult decisions…head to the pub!
With opinions flying at all angles, a plan finally came together. Hence it was time to get down to the serious business of catching some bands!
We arrived rather chilly and windswept to discover the new for 2010 Outdoor stage was running late. S we ended up catching the tail end of an upbeat set from this Punk-pop quartet. They sounded quite promising and they have decent enough guitar melodies and vocal harmonies, although I am only judging on their final 2 tracks, the rest could have been pants!
Talking of pants, KASMs lead singer was liberally showing off hers as she catapulted around stage in all manner of screwball methods (including powerslides & Japanese schoolgirl kooky leaps). This in fact was a glad distraction from the noise generated by her screechy adolescent vocals. Ignoring the voice the music was edgy and alternative with plenty of sound effects which were largely hit and miss. They have lots of good ideas, outstanding energy and cannot be faulted for effort but today they failed to captivate. An indoor venue would definitely improve their sound, but for the time being, you get an E…more work required!
We had been very lucky with the weather and the rain held off as we dived from pub to pub taking in quizzes, jazz sessions and musical bingo until we were en-route to the Electric Ballroom for the first of the evening performances. When the rain finally arrived, it was ferocious! Driving rain hammered the streets, turning Camden high street into a new canal extension! Drenched like hamsters in a washing machine we gained swift entry and prepared to be rocked.
Camden Lock before the storm
Pulled Apart By Horses
This young band from Leeds are a huge part of the experimental alt-metal scene developing in the city and from watching them tonight you can see why they are at the forefront of the movement. They play with a voracious intensity and skull denting power. An ever changing time signature, stop-start melodies, plenty of epic anticipation building crescendos and technically superb massive metal riffs litter their sound which is unpredictable and compelling to behold.
Pulled Apart By Horses
Almost as precarious is their crazed stage antics which left their bassist sporting a bandaged up knee prior to this evening. Yet he still managed to ascend to stand and leap off a 2 storey stack of speakers, meanwhile the vocalist went on aimless walkabouts through the crowd knocking over fans with his wildly flailing mic/guitar leads. Put simply they are entertaining and totally bonkers!
Ready for a Fall!
Lead vocals are, as one DiRocker pointed out “A bit shouty” & other noted “quite Blood Brothers–esque”, hence not easily accessible but still drive each tune with catchy melodies which demand your attention. Their volume is deafening as is the thump of their drumming but all this combined to form a brilliant set which is not going to be forgotten for some time to come. An essential new band worthy of attention!
That Fucking Tank
Next we trotted off to The Dublin Castle for another slice of Leeds originated alternative rock, this time a little more subdued, or so we thought. That Fucking Tank are an instrumental duo (drummer and guitarist) who play in perfect harmony some of the biggest goove heavy beats of the weekend, despite their minimal stage setup.
That Fucking Tank
Monster drumming and big guitars laced each tune, each craftily setup into an instantly recognizable riff, rhythm, chorus, solo structure. They are one of those catchy bands you can’t help but dance to, no matter how hard you try to resist. Scuzzy electro riffs, progressive trip-outs, heavy muted power chords and classic rock influenced interludes were all present in this great set proving variety is key without any vocalist to liven things up.
Throwing in a couple of classic licks from the likes of Nirvana and Springsteen helped really get the party going as the stage was overtaken by stage divers leaping back into the tiny mosh gathering down front. Their success was evident as the crowd would not be settled until they played an encore. This is a band you need to see live! On record they are good but nothing can recreate the duo’s almost telepathic musical connection and raw sound which is just as ease at the disco or the rock clubs! A huge prospect to keep an eye on!
While Calvin Harris was entertaining the (supplementary ticket buying) crowds at the Roundhouse we were checking out a worthy rival to his electro crown in Alex Metric. His live performance was pretty good with hard hitting bass lines, snazzy keyboards and catchy vocal led dance tracks proving very popular. However the venue was hugely overcrowded and just too tiny, for all the fans that turned up and could not get within 10 meters of the stage, this was a disappointing outing. In a club venue this would have been rocking, instead it was subdued and underwhelming.
Alex (is back there somewhere) Metric
Instead of providing a springboard to the wee hours Teenage Fanclub lulled the crowds packed into KoKo into a sweet harmony of blissful semi-consciousness. Majorly indebted to 60’s folks The Byrds and love for the jangly melodies and high pitched sugar coated vocals were great for about 20 minutes. From which point on the relentless floppy haired mid-tempo acoustic strum-by-numbers became monotonous, tedious and lacking in invention.
Mixed in their set were a few good little pop numbers, but they were only resonating well with the long term fans who seemed to know every lyric. Their performance was mediocre and so it received lukewarm appreciation from the DiR mob as we jumped back in the taxi towards HQ for the night, ready to do it all again tomorrow.