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The Old Blue Last is famed for pioneering some of the most weird and wonderful music, from the frantic progressives to the twee electro, this upstairs function room has seen it all. Tonight’s headliners lean toward the latter, although not exactly twee. The pumping synth-pop stylings of I Am in Love are topping tonight’s bill, but keeping the beer-swilling bodies warm tonight are local favourites You and Others Around You.
Although actually a three-piece, tonight the band are without their synth player Layla Kim so it’s down to Dan Robinski and Ed Ross to deliver the goods. The influence of Talking Heads is apparent from the beginning with the erratic, bopping dance beat, that’s powered forward by the new wave drum machine rhythm. Shoreditch laps it up. The performance, though, is stuttering and uneventful. Robinski’s vocals complement the music well but his Ian Curtis impression begins to wear thin with the fixated stare and jittery dance moves. However, ‘Two Twenty Two’ drowns the audience in Strokes-like guitar whilst the infectious nature of ‘Dance Like A Vegetable’ wins over a section of OBL who don their boogie boots ready for the headliners.
I Am in Love’s show tonight was originally a release party for their new single, ‘Palms’, but the release date has been pushed back later this year. Despite this, the electro-laden, indie-pop quartet attempt to get the party started with an array of old and new material. The twinkly keys and deep bass add a necessary pace to the performance that sadly takes a while to kick off. Generally, I Am in Love aren’t a ‘get up and go’ band to throw yourself around to, but there’s the beginnings of gentle bobbing in the crowd.
Unfortunately, though, tonight’s bill-toppers aren’t on top form. Rushing through ‘Fall the Line’, ‘Palm’ and ‘Get a Grip’, an element on ’80s synthpop rears its head but neither those on or off stage are fully engaged. Setting up a tom drum in the crowd sees the eyeline fill with camera phones, but it’s case of style over substance for the Leicester-cum-London four-piece. ‘Call Me An Animal’ fills the room with a huge sci-fi vibe akin to Errors but the passion appears to have been drained. Throughout the night there are elements of something innovative and special heard in the powerful instrumentals and electro hooks, but nowadays a band cannot rely on musicianship alone. If you don’t feel it then the crowd won’t feel it. And tonight there was definitely something missing.
Camden has always been known for music. From the hallowed venues of The Underworld and Electric Ballroom, to the local legend of Amy Winehouse, music has been the beating heart of the Town for years. To celebrate this heritage, the concept of Camden Crawl was produced. Now in its eleventh year, the annual 2-day festival has invaded no less than 27 venues hosting over 100 artists for 16 hours a day. It’s hectic, intense, and eye-opening; what else would you expect?
Kicking off the Saturday are the London-bred purveyors of Rancid-esque ska-punk Imperial Leisure. Almost filling the Wheelbarrow at the unholy gigging hour of 1 PM is no mean feat, but the skankers – young and old – are supporting some of the finest local music on display today. Managing to cram an eight-piece band on the tiny stage, including a three-piece brass section (which, incidentally, the band hasn’t had fully for years), frontman Denis Smith stands aloft pumping out crowd-pleasers ‘Man on the Street’ and the sing-along favourite ‘Landlord’s Daughter’. After half an hour of early afternoon beer chugging and foot stomping, it’s back into the daylight for another round.
All the way at the other end of Camden High Street is the Roundhouse, that today is showcasing an abundance of calmer musical outfits. Winchester’s This is the Kit‘s serene, ambient acoustics float over the 100 or so people gathered in the upstairs room. Initially the shows at the Roundhouse were scheduled to take place outside, but thanks to the lovely English weather it’s been relocated. Although the band are five-piece, today they’re a duo. The delightfully heartfelt, majestic tones fill the room that is sat on the floor soaking up the banjo and guitar like a hippy commune: if a drum circle were to start, no-one would bat an eyelid. It’s a fantastic juxtaposition to the hustle and bustle of the streets below that are just getting started.
Over at Koko, the biggest venue of the weekend, XFM’s John Kennedy is hosting Xposure, highlighting some of the hottest UK acts today. Headlining the first half of Saturday’s showcase are the incredible instrumentals of Three Trapped Tigers. Described by the Guardian as “A garage band bashing their way through Aphex Twin”, the London trio power their way through an 8-bit tinged, bass heavy assault. Reeking of dubstep dirt undertowed by rib-shaking bass, Three Trapped Tigers blast through 30 minutes of new material before uttering a single word to the pumped crowd. Sounding like the bastard child of Sabrepulse and 65DaysOfStatic, the futuristic noise and blinding strobe lights are reminiscent of the rave scene in The Matrix: Reloaded. As the three-piece keep lashing out on their keys and effects pedals – to the tune of Sonic being bitch-slapped by a subwoofer – the music suddenly stops and the house lights come up. It’s over, leaving Koko in a dazed but wholly satisfied state of deafness.
After a much needed break for food and yet more beer, Camden is ready for the evening. Taking to the stage at the most metal venue in town – The Underworld – Brontide are serving mesmerising post-rock opuses to hundreds of onlookers. The darlings of Holy Roar move seamlessly between twinkly soft sections and ball-busting, heavy breakdowns – they even throw in a few bars of ‘No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn’ during ‘MFBT’ for MCA. Flirting with ideas of metal and prog, the driving force behind the three-piece is the drummer Will Bowerman (who also moonlights for La Roux). The big, pounding drums ricochet off the walls of The Underworld as the guitars drown the audience and prove the London favourites still have more to offer.
Down the road at Dingwalls, one of the most hyped bands of the day are treating the three-quarters’ full room to a half hour of light-hearted, Caribbean vibes. Theme Park‘s dancey tones flow with a summery feel akin to ‘English Riviera’ era Metronomy. Despite having four string-players on stage, the delicate nature of the London quintet sounds as though only one guitar is playing. Combine this with the minimal drums and you’re left with a soft, yet uplifting sound. Strumming their way through the likes of ‘Milk’ and ‘Wax’, set-closer ‘Two Hours’ leaves a smile on everyone’s face.
Ending the first day’s festivities are the Japanese purveyors of psychedelia, Bo Ningen (pictured at top). Since moving to London, the erratic J-rock meets hardcore quartet have been carving a niche for themselves across the city for the past few years. Tonight their domain is a packed-to-the-rafters sweatbox called the Monarch that has bodies crammed into every corner vying for a view. Merging the styles of Deep Purple and The Mars Volta, with hints of everyone else in between, Bo Ningen highlight the versatility of Camden Crawl.
Delayed Japanese vocals echo over the frenzied guitar and drums that are thrashed out with all the intensity of a car crash. The band have a real adoration for their craft and aren’t in it for the fame – it’s a very niche audience. As the ethos of chaos leaks from the stage to the floor, the beer-drenched pit full of shape throwers and party goers get the floor bouncing. The performance culminates in a flurry of free jazz, prog, metal, kraut-rock and funk that transcends into a hypnotic breakdown that never knowingly feels like ending. But for Camden it has come to an end, for Saturday at least. Tomorrow brings on another day of new music from varying ends of the spectrum to devastate venues all over the music capital of London.
Stay tuned for Luke’s review of Sunday at Camden Crawl coming soon.
Last week the music world lost a pioneer – Adam Yauch, better known by his Beastie Boys moniker MCA, died on the 4th of May battling cancer.
An outpouring of fan (famous or not) tributes quickly ensued, including this one from Coldplay covering a Beasties classic that was a little surprising. Watch it below.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 10th May 2012 at 6:00 pm
Stealing Sheep‘s new charming DIY video below is for ‘Shut Eye’, a single taken from their forthcoming debut album ” to be released in August in Heavenly Recordings. The single will be released on the 28th of May in 7″ and digital formats and will be backed with exclusive track ‘We Like The Dark’.
The trio will be performing at the free Something Nothing and Republic of Music showcase at Marwood Coffee House this Saturday (12 May; read more about it here), as well as in their hometown of Liverpool at Sound City from 21.00-21.30 on Thursday the 17th of May at the Red Bull Studios Live at the Garage. For a taste of their live performance, read Martin’s write-up of their support slot for Field Music back in February here.
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 9th May 2012 at 4:00 pm
Damon Albarn appeared on Jools Holland a couple nights ago. What did he perform? Tracks off his new album out this week, ‘Dr. Dee’, specifically ‘The Marvelous Dream’ and ‘O Spirit, Animate Us’. Watch both clips below.
Festivals are great, aren’t they? Sitting in the sun, sipping on cider, catching a tan/burning your skin off or just watching all your favourite bands in one place in the sunshine.
But wait a minute, you live in Great Britain. A country known for the fact that its festivals can easily turn into a flood of epic proportions. Solution? Well, that’s easy, head abroad! With a cornucopia of festivals on the continent, offering more of a guarantee of more favourable weather, it seems the only logical place to go.
One such of these bountiful foreign beauties is the Heineken Open’er Festival (the 1st to 4th of July), which offers a huge selection of talent on its stages. The Gdynia-Kosakowo Airfield is a 75 hectare space that screams out to be explored and contains seven stages, and it’s the largest Polish open-air music and performing arts festival.
Festival specialists Mumford and Sons (pictured at top) will be bringing their eccentric take on bluegrass to Gdynia, Poland, and they’re joined by a host of international lauded talent, from cult indie heroes Franz Ferdinand to the newly re-formed titans Bloc Party. Further down the bill there are the talents of those lovely Dry the River boys, joined by the simply mad faux gypsy styling’s of Gogol Bordello, the chillwave of Toro Y Moi and Mercury Award-winning the xx.
So as you can see along with the chance of some lovely weather, the bands on show are not to be sniffed at. A 4-day camping ticket is priced at the simply ridiculous £84 (410 PLN) while a day ticket will set you back £33 (165). More information on tickets are here.
After the cut: the list of bands scheduled to perform as of 7 May 2012.
Continue reading Preview: Heineken Open’er 2012