1st May 2011
Well rested, showered and fuelled by ‘full English’ we set out for more exploits in Camden for day two of the crawl.
Kicking off today’s live music extravaganza was the ever reliable grunge revivalists Dinosaur Pile-Up. We have long been admirers of these boys performances and today was no exception. Their big dropped D riffs boomed out livening the early crowd and treating them to a dose of cheery nirvana-esque rock with plenty of catchy melodies and a tonne of chugging rhythm guitars. We were lucky to be treated to some older gems in the shape of Opposites Attract, new material which sounded great, as well their bigger numbers such as Traynor. A cracking start to yet another sunny day.
From here we mooched over towards the Summer Sundae Special Edition event out on the sun soaked Roundhouse Terrace, only to find Dry The River limbering up. After fighting through a sea of promotional material being thrown our ways we settled and enjoyed what was a mellow laid back folk set. In the sunshine it sounded excellent, the violin especially making an impression. Yet with mellowness comes bliss, and with bliss comes sleep…which is not the greatest asset for a band. One for throwing on the stereo for a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Dry The River
The mood swing between these and our next band was colossal. Somewhat strangely ,the crowd were packed in tight for the emergence of NYC’s latest hardcore punk exports Cerebral Ballzy. Their “I don’t give a flying F**k” brat attitude and a love of black flag et al seemed to cause more headaches than circle pits, with the non-receptive crowd. They missed about as much as they hit as their front man ran amok through the crowds inciting foul language and generally causing havoc. Musically this wasn’t a great performance even though there were a few decent hooks hidden in there. Their lifeblood is to make loud and supremely fast punk to get knotted to…on this count they succeeded greatly.
Indeed the reason for the indifference was plain to see once Cerebral had left the stage. Currently riding a huge over inflated wave of hype are the hip hoppers Odd Future or OFWGKTA (I did wonder what young heavily made up teenage girls were doing at a hardcore punk gig). I departed, but Mr. Flowers stuck around…
Meanwhile…I continued my search for cool new music and found a jazz musician playing what looked like a carpenters saw. I promptly turned around and stumbled by chance into the Vox busking sessions to catch James Page. This young acoustic strummer had plenty of melody in his heart and honesty in his lyrics. Tales of london life and what else…girls, were lively and highly enjoyable. This was a tough/drunk crowd to perform for plus all the while having a multitude of technical difficulties, he showed his spirit and professionalism to battle through admirably.
After a huge trek out to Kentish Town, we were glad to find a band about to begin in the Bull & Gate, this was Five Working Days. A triumphantly jubilant set of rockabilly/ska pop later, we were smitten. It was lively and highly entertaining in this tiny pub corner. It’s a surprise they all managed to fit in really! Stuffed full of a good “cockney knee’s up”, we headed into the Forum for what turned out to be a rather costly mistake.
Five Working Days
Frankie & The Heartstrings failed to appear at their appropriate stage time, we consulted the schedule…yup this is right, we agreed! A quick foray into the twitterati revealed more disappointing news. Frankie & his Heartstrings were at home and were never scheduled to play the Sunday! Bad form Camden Crawl!
Still we had Benjamin Leftwich Francis to enjoy instead. After 10 minutes of boredom inducing folk crooning I departed, more than a bit saddened!
The Phantom Band
Heading back into Camden central (by bus this time), I found myself in an almighty queue to get into the Proud Galleries, for one of the big highlights of the festival. After the floodgates opened I somehow found myself down the front! Sporting a look of bewilderment and smugness, I settled down to watch The Phantom Band after a slightly awkward Q&A session from Radio Ones new music maestro Huw Stevens. A very eclectic set followed with plenty of blips and bops overlaying their already well stacked guitars and melancholic yet purposeful vocals. They made big powerful atmospheric indie rock with effortless ease, without really having to strain. Playing a wide variety of quirky instruments they managed to squeeze out melodies from all angles. Never losing track of the main melody was key to their success, as it was these that formed the heartbeat of their songs amongst their proggy sidesteps. A great little set of diverse rock!
The venue had long been full to capacity, turning away latecomers because next on stage was the true British guitar legend, ex-Blur guitarist and accomplished solo artist, Graham Coxon. Meekly shuffling onstage it was apparent he wasn’t here to mess around as he and his ample sized band quickly hooked up their huge effects pedal boards to their Marshall’s and begun to ring out crunching power chords galore to the delight of the fans.
Sporting his trademark stripy Tee and Glasses, Coxon & Co got quickly into their stride playing brilliant upbeat rock numbers from Love Travels at Illegal Speeds including Don’t Let Your Man Know, Standing On My Own Again & I Can’t Look At Your Skin each teeming with energy and pulse racing urgency. The business of getting the crowd onside was complete, thus the set spiraled into a swarm of new material, many of them debut’s including City Hall, The Truth & a cracking little punchy number Running For Your Life. These new tunes were catchy and enjoyable pop-centric rockers, showing promise for his upcoming album.
He was joined on stage by Shingai of The Noisettes in a striking (and short) red dress, providing vocals for another new tune Billy Says. As Graham himself put it in the Q&A, “I get a lot of stick for my singing…It’s nice to hear my songs sung by a girl, gives it a different feel”. We agree. This bluesy number was ace and vocals were soulful and bright, adding a totally new slant to Coxon’s usual monotone fare. A few more newbie’s later the set was wound up with the euphoric rocker Freakin’ Out to end with a bang. This was a great intimate gig packed with classics and new tracks alike. A very rare opportunity to catch a legend doing what he does best!
Coxon and Shingai
We hightailed it to The Black Cap for our final band of this years Crawl, Johnny Foreigner. Opening with an A Cappella verse from the front pairing of this lively trio, they soon clattered their guitars and spliced riffs with rhythms forming a jubilant racket of insistent indie rock. Again new material took the forefront, but these tunes were like all JF tunes…exciting and exhilarating. The pairing of boy girl vocals is always at the heart of their shows and this was no exception. Highlights came in the shape What Drummer Get (from their latest EP sold as a Frisbee!!), Eyes Wide Terrified & the irrepressible Salt Pepper & Spinderella. Their onstage presence and artistic backdrop (courtesy of a mac, a projector and a white bed sheet) were great, as their bantered with the crowd and produced a livewire performance of the highest quality.
This year’s Crawl far outstripped last years in terms of quality acts, performances and thankfully…weather. Let’s hope they can maintain the trend for next year!