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TGTF Guide to SXSW 2013: Rock, punk and metal UK artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

 
By on Tuesday, 15th January 2013 at 11:00 am
 

Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2013 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change.

Carrying on with the genre section of the exclusive TGTF Guide to SXSW 2013 to continue through January each Tuesday, today we’re bringing you the UK bands slated to perform at this year’s SXSW that play rock, punk, metal and every combination in between. (Last week, we brought you the pop and pop hybrid acts list, which you can catch up on here.) Each part of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2013 is a handy resource if you’re wondering which acts to catch at this year’s marathon week of showcases, parties and secret shows. But I hope it’ll also introduce you to the solo artists and bands you haven’t heard of, because that’s the most exciting thing about SXSW: at any one moment, you could walk into a bar, a club, a hotel, a warehouse, wherever…and you might just discover the next big thing in music.

What do all these acts in the rock / punk / metal genre list have in common besides being from Britain? Powerful guitars, punishing bass and drums and in most cases, vocals worthy of idolatry. How they achieve this differs from act to act, as you will read and see/hear below.

Belligerence (added 10/01/13) – heavy metal from Portsmouth. I’m finding it hard to find information on them, as there’s another band – also metal – from Prague with the same name…

File next to: Biohazard, Clutch, Pantera

The Blackout – Welsh post-hardcore band who have been soldiering on since their formation in 2003. Right, that means they’ve been around a decade. How many other bands, no matter what the genre, still exist after 10 years? They must be doing something right. Their next album, ‘Start the Party’, is scheduled to be out on the 21st of January 2013. We won’t post the name of their sweary big hit, but John mentions it in his day 2 roundup of Leeds Fest 2011.

Brutality Will Prevail – This Cardiff hardcore band had been signed previously to Alex Fitzgerald’s Holy Roar label and are now with Purgatory Records (sensing a theme here?), who this year released their latest album, ‘Scatter the Ashes’. Expect something punishing.

Touring with: Cancer Bats and Empress in March 2013 (maybe now they won’t appear at some of the dates on this previous organised tour, since the middle of it is smack dab during SXSW).

China Rats – Leeds lad rock. Legend has it that thanks to the tour bus of Bat for Lashes breaking down on the way to this year’s Benicassim, the band found themselves headlining the Valencia festival. Is ‘(At Least Those) Kids are Getting Fed’ a commentary on the North East, or a wider problem across Britain?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52bv0BorhFM[/youtube]

The Crookes – The Crookes made their SXSW debut in 2011 and when I finally met them in Brighton in May 2012, they were eager to return, so I’m really pleased for them getting another SXSW nod. This time, they’ll have the good time sounds of ‘Hold Fast’ (my top album of 2012) under their belts and I’m sure there will be a gaggle of new American fans of theirs (mostly female?) following their every move. I’ll be catching them as many times as I can, so do come and say hello.

Seeing that I’ve been a fan of theirs since the ‘Dreams of Another Day’ EP in 2010, there is a boatload of Crookes coverage you can read on TGTF, starting here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TppUoY4zpFQ[/youtube]

Crowns – Coming off of their December tour raising awareness of UK homelessness, Cornwall’s Crowns will bring their fun rock ‘n’ roll sound to Austin. I missed their show at the Cornwall Pasty Company at last year’s Great Escape (really kicking myself over this…I mean, come on, that would have been the ultimate party conversation starter, right?) but I’m determined to catch them on American soil.

Read all of our previous Crowns coverage here.

The Enemy – my guess is that the Enemy are to be the younger equivalent of and will act like Kaiser Chiefs at last year’s SXSW: pulling in a good number of fans for their perfectly good but possibly unextraordinary sets in a post-Oasis breakup world. Since they’ve been around for a while (3 albums’ worth) in the UK, they’re not likely to be high on the average UK attendees’ must-see list, but I’ve never seen them before, so if they show up at Stubb’s, I might head on over.

Read our previous Enemy coverage here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lupg5BHzH34[/youtube]

Evans the Death – This band already has a Rolling Stone description (huh?): “This London band mixes post–Smiths jangle and early–grunge sludge, as Katherine Whitaker explores varying shades of bad romance. Her raw emotion blends with slashing, whirling guitars to inject paralysis with weird power.” When you see they’ve been signed to Slumberland Records here in America (‘Allo Darlin’ and the Pains of Being Pure at Heart‘s American home), it all seems to make sense…

Sounds like: the Libertines, if they had a female out in front

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MX8VcqY8qts[/youtube]

Gallops – why do I feel the need to mention Mogwai every time I hear a proggy band? Wrexham group Gallops aren’t nearly hard enough to warrant the comparison, although with titles like ‘Astaroth’ and ‘Hongliday’ their Blood and Biscuits’ debut ‘ ‘Yours Sincerely, Dr. Hardcore’, you’d not be putting experimental band in the pop box anyhow. (Something interesting I found on the band’s Tumblr: the linked to the Kitsune Maison 11 compilation – didn’t see that coming at all.)

Gallows – they’re punks. They deliver punishing sets at festivals, such as at 2000 Trees last year. And Frank Carter left them in 2011 to start Pure Love. That’s all you really need to know, right?

Hawk Eyes – punishing hard rock from Leeds. Their 2012 album ‘Ideas’ got top marks from Kerrang! and Artrocker so you know where this is going…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1szIsuhqcUc[/youtube]

Nik Turner’s Hawkwind – the current incarnation of history’s first space rock groups.

Heaven’s Basement (added 10/01/13) – a hard rock band who has been soldiering on for quite a while (since 2008) and are releasing their debut album, ‘Filthy Empires’, this year. They’ve supported big names like Bon Jovi and Papa Roach, so is this an indicator of their hard rock prowess? We’ll see at this year’s event.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kP1u79wSdDY[/youtube]

The Joy Formidable – what can we say about Welsh rock band Joy Formidable that hasn’t already been said? When you’ve been hand-picked by Dave Grohl as the man’s own favourite band right now, calling them “a killer live band”, ’nuff said really, yeah? The other facts that they are truly some of the loveliest people we have met and are always so happy about our coverage of them? That’s just icing on the cake. I’ve seen them several times now but the only time I’ve seen them at SXSW was on a live stream in 2011, which doesn’t really count, so I’m making it a point to catch them this time around.

Read all our previous coverage of the Joy Formidable here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_t4s-HX3z0[/youtube]

Kassidy – some have called them the Scottish Kings of Leon, but that’s just lazy journalism. We’ve been following the folky rock hybrid band since their early EPs in 2010, and trust us, they’re way better than the Followills.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMiBIHqeoa4[/youtube]

Read our previous coverage of Kassidy here.

Kill It Kid – wow, I don’t have to write a piece on them, because they placed #10 on our 10 for 2013 list and Martin’s already done for me. Revivalist blues from Bath.

Klaxons – they’ve been around a while. They won a Mercury Prize in 2007 for ‘Myths of the New Future’. Their last album ‘Surfing the Void’ released in 2010 “>has a cat in an astronaut suit on the cover. Sorry, I’m having trouble sounding knowledgeable about Klaxons because I don’t really like them all that much.

Read our previous coverage on Klaxons here.

Little Barrie – ‘powerhouse’ is a word that seems to be following this Nottingham formed, London transplanted trio. But if you’re going to call Little Barrie a powerhouse trio, then surely you mean to compare to the greats of rock ‘n’ roll.

Sounds like: a more radio-polished Cream or at least a band that came out swinging in the Sixties, not in the Noughties

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/25333478[/vimeo]

LostAlone – Derby band who have been described as “breathtaking Queen-style harmonies and classic metal bite” and compared to Muse. How is it possible that we’ve never heard about them, then?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47rV458G-f4[/youtube]

New Ivory – according to MTV Iggy, these guys from London are the new knights of British indie rock. I am struggling to find a comparison, except maybe they sound like early Arctic Monkeys or Two Door Cinema Club, but not as catchy? (Yeah, I know. Damning with faint praise, aren’t I? Sorry.) Steve Aoki is a fan, having signed them to his Dim Mak Records. I dunno. Maybe they’ll actually sound better in person at SXSW.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHEJaMTQJv8[/youtube]

Orange Goblin (added 10/01/13) – formerly known as Our Haunted Kingdom, on first glance you have to wonder if the new name was for a cuddlier image. So imagine my surprise that this is a heavy metal band! Having put out their first album in 1997, they’re definitely the granddaddies of the rock/metal/punk group, but having changed their sound from stoner/doom to their current more metal sound proves that they aren’t willing to stand in one place musically. A special live album for their devoted, ‘A Eulogy for the Fans’, will be released in March.

Palma Violets – I’ve refrained about writing about Palma Violets from Lambeth, South London, as what I’ve heard from them makes me think of The Vaccines, who came out of an NME promotional campaign firestorm and their #3 placing on the BBC Sound of 2011 poll with loads of fans clamouring to see them at major festivals. It’s 2013 now and look what’s happened: Palma Violets are on the BBC Sound of 2013 longlist. Overhyped band leads to foregone conclusion…appearing as a support act to headliners Django Django on the 2013 NME Awards tour next month sounds like an NME mistake then…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=poFXWUTEs1k[/youtube]

PAWS – Scottish three-piece banging out tunes in a garage-y, lo-fi style. It should come as no surprise that they have a strong DIY aesthetic, as they’re great fans of bands like Dinosaur Jr and the Pixies, even having a song called ‘Kim Deal’ in their arsenal.

Sounds like: the Cribs or Peace, if they were from far north of the border.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MiDEkoPKCkk[/youtube]

Peace – We won’t waste your time here, since the band have already been tipped on the BBC Sound of 2013 poll. Read our previous Peace coverage, including their 10 for 2013 profile (they placed #5 on this last readers’ poll), here.

Peers – 6music’s Tom Robinson was an early supporter of this Reading band in 2010, the year the young band, then all under the age of 18, played the BBC Introducing stage at Reading and Leeds. The unsigned band cite Bombay Bicycle Club as a major influence, and if you squeeze your eyes real tight, you can hear Jack Steadman’s impact on singer Matt Thompson’s vocals.

Savages – dissonant post-punk via an unusual package – four women from London. Is it their anti-establishment stance that attracted the BBC Sound of 2013 tipsters? We’ll never know for sure but I guess imitating Patti Smith and looking sullen are the highest form of flattery? They could have at least smiled for the photos on their Facebook…

Sounds like: trying too hard to be a 21st century Siouxsie and the Banshees

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6y-cVzbBBQ8[/youtube]

Sharks – usually punk is associated with a lo-fi, scuzzy sound, but this band from Leamington Spa sound remarkably polished, with hybrid punk/pop songs that could have easily slotted in with the music I listened here in America in high school.

Sound like: a grown up Blink-182, or Green Day when they weren’t so political and were still fun

Tall Ships – math rock meets indie rock in an epic way via three high-spirited lads from Brighton. John adored their 2012 opus ‘Everything Touching’ and for a Foals loving nation, it’s a wonder they aren’t bigger in the UK. Foals? Who are they?

Read our previous coverage on Tall Ships here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JYt3eYDQY0[/youtube]

Tango in the Attic – Scottish band from Glenrothes having Two Door Cinema Club-type guitars with reverb.

File next to: Smith Westerns

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ke9eHi6Ze_A[/youtube]

Throne – there’s not a lot known about this London band, except that they’re known to ‘level rooms’ with their bad boy riffage when they appear in the Capital. You have been warned.

TOY (added 10/01/13) – psychedelic rock from a band made up of some members for the group Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong. I don’t feel like it’s really necessary to write about them, considering nearly every friend of mine rates them quite highly. Not really my thing, but I’m pretty sure they will do well in Austin.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcQ2nXDvWDY[/youtube]

Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls (added 10/01/13) – I nearly put Frank Turner’s band in the singer/songwriter category, but since his appearances at this year’s SXSW will be louder and more raucous than his solo turn last year at the Xtra Mile Recordings showcase, in the end there was no contest.

We’ve written quite about the man on TGTF, and you can read all of that through here.

Virals – vehicle for Worcester’s Shaun Hencher, who with his live band have most recently supported #5 10 for 2013 band Peace in the UK. Now Hencher’s looking to make a big splash at their American live debut at SXSW.

Sounds like: a cross between Male Bonding, Two Wounded Birds (RIP) and the Vaccines. Get yer sunnies out!

The Virginmarys – Macclesfield will soon be known for more than Ian Curtis, if this trio have anything to say about it. Their sound? Hard rocking, arse-kicking tunes.

File next to: Kasabian, Biffy Clyro

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8ehThdbXJs[/youtube]

Wet Nuns – even with quite possibly one of the silliest names for a band ever, Sheffield duo Wet Nuns had a spectacular 2012, getting attention not only for their silly name but their punk crossed with blues schizophrenic sound.

Sounds like: the evil child borne from Band of Skulls and the Black Keys

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAe5OFCuLxY[/youtube]

While She Sleeps – is heavy metal more your thing? Then I suppose you should look to Sheffield and a band like While She Sleeps for your jollies. Luke caught them last summer at day 2 of Slam Dunk South.

Young Guns – this band has been around for quite a while, but it wasn’t until summer 2012 that they had an American record deal. Radio-friendly, not too hard rock sound made by youngish, good-looking boys in leather: in short, an American label signing coup.

Read all our previous coverage of Young Guns here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qk3vjIDuy9w[/youtube]

The Zombies – “What’s your name? / Who’s your daddy? / Is he rich like me?” All kidding aside, the Zombies have been around for over 50 years. Fifty effin’ years. They called themselves the Zombies before it was hip to like zombies. Though they’re down to only two original members – Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent – contrary to popular belief, it was they, not Friendly Fires, who put St. Albans on the musical map.

Read Braden’s interview with Colin and Rod from 2 years ago here.

Electronic bands and DJs are up next week. So catch us next Tuesday for the third chapter of the genre section of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2013!

 

Album Review: Tall Ships – Everything Touching

 
By on Wednesday, 26th September 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

Tall Ships’ debut record ‘Everything Touching’ represents the collective toil of three men from Falmouth with exceptional talent, both in the studio and live, as anyone who caught their headline set at Reading and Leeds Festival’s BBC Introducing stage will know.

They’ve been paying their dues since around 2008 and it only seems fair that a chance at the big time is theirs for the taking. The band consists of Ric Phethean on lead vocals and guitar, Matt Parker on bass and Jamie Bush on drums. In this record they have quite obviously just got the book, thrown it out of the window, gone downstairs, stamped on the book some more and then finally burnt said book to cinders. In a valiant attempt to be original, the songs pay no attention to any kind of musical conformity. While some bands around at the moment are doing quirky for quirkiness’s sake, these guys pull it off brilliantly. They haven’t attempted to be original, they goddamn have, and a big pat on the back for them for doing so!

The opening song of the album is a testament to this, in track ‘T=0’. There’s no dogmatic chorus, rinse repeat; no, instead the track is played out over a rattling repeater of a guitar riff that stinks of the kind of DIY ingenuity that this band hammer down throughout the record. Phethean’s vocals creep into the track midway through, but by then you’ve already got your foot stomping so hard to Parker and Bush’s frothing engine room of a bass/drum combo.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JYt3eYDQY0[/youtube]

‘Phosphorescence’ reeks of their math rock credibility. They’re like a Foals before they started singing about “Cassius, it’s over”. The hammering bass in the song moves the track along and there’s even a hint of xylophone if you didn’t feel like you were in a secondary school classroom doing algebra already. ‘Oscar’ brings a groovy kind of funkadelic beat to the equation (see what I did there) and Phethean’s guitar is the centre point of the song, working in a way that makes me think of Mexican banditos. Go figure? This music does mad things with your mind. Mad kind of good though I may add! But then it goes from that to a strongly building crescendo, a really brilliant crescendo.

‘Ode To Ancestors’ is as beautiful as this album gets, with Phethean crooning how a girl is “a triumph of natural selection / every mutation leading to your perfection”. It’s a song more akin to a tribute to the brilliance of evolution and Darwinism than a tribute to a fine female, but it works all the same to make a truly stunning ballad.

A review of this album would not be complete though, without comment upon the 9-minute behemoth that is ‘Murmurtations’. It’s a triumph of the understated. Beginning subtly and building, it grows into the monstrous tune it is. An epic ending, to an unashamedly ballsy, epic and just ludicrously well-created debut album. More of the same, please.

9/10

‘Everything Touching’, the debut from Tall Ships, will be out on the 8th of October on Big Scary Monsters and Blood And Biscuits.

 

Video of the Moment #935: Tall Ships

 
By on Thursday, 23rd August 2012 at 6:00 pm
 

Braden recently profiled Tall Ships for this Bands to Watch feature. The trio are getting ready to release a new single, ‘Gallop’, out on the 24th of September. This is shortly before the release of their debut album, ‘Everything Touch’, on the 8th of October, on Big Scary Monsters and Blood And Biscuits.

The band will also be touring the UK in October.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wa4Y8RO590A[/youtube]

 

Tall Ships / October 2012 UK Tour

 
By on Wednesday, 22nd August 2012 at 1:30 pm
 

Tall Ships, recently profiled by Braden as a Band to Watch, will be heading out on tour this October.

Their debut album, ‘Everything Touching’, will be out on the 8th of October on Big Scary Monsters and Blood And Biscuits; ‘Gallop’, a single ahead of the album release, will drop on the 24th of September. They’ll be playing Reading (Sunday) / Leeds (Friday) this weekend.

Wednesday 10th October 2012 – Cheltenham Frog and Fiddle
Thursday 11th October 2012 – Kingston New Slang
Friday 12th October 2012 – Brighton Haunt
Saturday 13th October 2012 – Norwich Sound and Vision
Sunday 14th October 2012 – Birmingham Rainbow
Monday 15th October 2012 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Tuesday 16th October 2012 – Middlesbrough Keys
Thursday 18th October 2012 – Glasgow Captain’s Rest
Friday 19th October 2012 – Sheffield Bowery
Saturday 21th October 2012 – Manchester Soup Kitchen Basement
Sunday 22th October 2012 – London XOYO
Tuesday 23th October 2012 – Nottingham Bodega
Thursday 25th October 2012 – Falmouth TBC

 

(2000 Trees Festival 2012 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #252: Tall Ships

 
By on Tuesday, 7th August 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

Creeping onto the radars of the underground two EPs ago and raring to break onto the big stage at the end of this year are math-rock group Tall Ships. If you’re a regular at the Old Blue Last’s Pink Mist nights or a Brightonian, you’ll almost certainly be aware of the kind of noises this Falmouth band are capable of making.

With their debut album finally being released on the 8th of October, the band are relentlessly touring and no doubt hitting any festival you are towards the end of the summer; from Hartlepool to Portsmouth, they’re definitely worth half an hour’s worth of your weekend’s attention. Having come through the same touring veins as the likes of 65daysofstatic, the post-rock elements of the band is apparent on tracks such as ‘T=0’, while the lyrical side of the band, which can be rather minimal at points, is equally as interesting. ‘Chemistry’, possibly their most famous track, boasts both simplicity and poignance in its lyrics: “there is nothing but chemistry here and with that in mind we have nothing to fear/ This applies to all I hold dear and with that in mind all is beautifully clear.”

With more firepower than a Team GB cycling team and the aggression/finesse blend of the equestrian team (yes, I’ve been watching a bit of the Olympics), Tall Ships have the potential within the sampler (below) and their forthcoming record to really challenge opinions about whether their style of music can push for the big time. Climbing your festival rosters soon.

 

Camden Crawl 2012: Day 2 – Ben’s Roundup

 
By on Wednesday, 23rd May 2012 at 1:00 pm
 

There’s something unnerving about turning up to day two of any festival showered, with clean pants on and without the obligatory dried coating of mud. It lacks a sense of escapism, but such is the nature of the modern urban festival scene. Camden Crawl 2012 has so far proved itself to be far removed from these trappings and with today’s line up holding just as much promise as Saturday’s, alongside the odd wild card, it’s time to knock back the last of the Alka-seltzer and hop on the Northern Line for 13 more hours of sound, kicking off with Brighton’s own Tall Ships back at the Wheelbarrow.

It may be that they are reminiscent of such a recent revolution on our great spinning top – counting bands as recent as Battles and Minus the Bear among their contemporaries – that it feels like they’ve been around for years. With this subconscious respect for a band’s longevity that has yet to play itself out, it raises question marks as to why Tall Ships have been given the first slot in one of the smallest venues at the Crawl. Luckily, human nature is as predictable as this nautically minded indie three piece are talented, and the tide rises until the crowd touches the back wall in wide eyed appreciation. The sound is soaked in reverb; the bass is metronomic whilst the drums fly off machine gun paradiddles, back to their dynamic roost.

Evidently, hardcore survivors Rolo Tomassi miss the memo regarding ‘Action on Hearing Loss’ that is pasted across posters, pens, lanyards and loudspeakers, all the way down Camden Road. Koko lights up like the ungodly opener to a Luddite horror spectacular, with an incendiary mix of confusion and beauty played out across instruments subservient to the ‘Phantom of the Opera’ synth and blood curdling hardcore wail. Singer Eva Spence ducks and weaves in an interpretive coil as they blast through tracks such as ‘Takes You’, announcing their return to the studio next month with possible single ‘Romancer’, and finishing with the classic ‘Party Wounds’.

General crowd pleasers Kids in Glass Houses fail to fully ignite as they kick off in the wake of Rolo Tomassi’s set at Koko. There’s something not to be trusted about Welsh bands singing in American accents (cough…Lostprophets), and the crowd seem largely disinterested in this Kerrang! friendly brand of alt-punk, much to the annoyance of frontman Aled Phillips, who cries out for some kind of response. They start with the fist pumping single ‘Sunshine’ and (ironically) ‘The Best is Yet to Come’, before moving on to material from their 2011 album release ‘In Gold Blood’. At the front there are signs of life (mainly from people not old enough to be at the bar) that are seized on as Phillips plunges into the crowd after one stalwart female fan. But, looking like the opening scene from School of Rock, the majority of a baffled crowd parts. It’s a shame for such a critically acclaimed live act to endure a performance where both the crowd and the band have noticeably different expectations from one another.

At the far end of Camden, the hotly tipped art rockers Cymbals take to the stage at the Monarch and, in gluttonous royal fashion, the place is bursting at the seams. There are echoes of Talking Heads and Devo in the plucky syncopation of this sunny East London three-piece, with a Kraftwerk synth and smattering of regional charm. There’s just enough time to catch tracks ‘I Don’t Know Why You Bother’, the infectiously harmonised ‘Summer Escaping’ and ‘Jane’ (the closest this smiling trio will get to a ballad), before the trudge back to Electric Ballroom for some more up-and-comers, Dog Is Dead.

The boys from West Bridgford mix folk tinged indie with anthemic rhythms that, fused with panning lasers and backlit cloud of dry ice, temporarily render the Electric Ballroom otherworldly and limitless. Unlike your typical folk harmony of light intertwining melodies, there is a choral, almost Gregorian simplicity as all five members pitch in on tracks ‘Hands Down’ and ‘River Jordan’. Debut single ‘Glockenspiel Song’ is forged from the Arcade Fire mould, with a brave but complimentary return for the much maligned saxophone, and is received rapturously by the on looking crowd. Having gained national coverage on Huw Stephens’ Radio 1 show, as well as supporting acts such as OK Go and Bombay Bicycle Club (not to mention a cameo on Skins), the band are set for a hectic festival season and should not be missed.

Upstairs at the Enterprise, Zun Zun Egui (pictured at top) form a cheeky interlude before the pinnacle of the night’s proceedings. It may be the claustrophobic setting of this damp attic; the lyrics in English, French, Creole, Japanese and pure nonsense; or the frantic pace with which they kick off, but you can’t help imagining some kind of back story. Were these the Bob Dylans of mariachi, exiled for the electronic hoodoo they now embrace? Or, perhaps they learnt to play as a means to infiltrate a South American drug cartel? The reality – I’m sure – is far more sensible (springing by chance from the Bristolian avante garde scene), but there is an undeniable sense of mystery to this up tempo, energetic four-piece. With a capacity of no more than 100, the modestly gathered crowd are infected with rhythm from the complex sweet picked arpeggios and male/female call and response between guitarist Kushal Gaya, and Yoshino Shigihara on keyboards.

And finally, back in the cavernous surroundings of the Electric Ballroom it’s time for post-rock conquistadors And So I Watch You From Afar to call time on Camden Crawl 2012 with bombastic attack of instrumental progressive metal. As the boys from Belfast blast in to their opener there is the first whiff of an old school mosh, before the crowd begins to settle and chant their riffs as if they were lyrics. There is raw energy to this five piece; stabbing electronic connections like a Tesla Coil to their dedicated fan base on the final night of their tour. Almost fully silhouetted by a blood red glow, they dive in to tracks ‘BEAUTIFULUNIVERSEMASTERCHAMPION’ and ‘Set Guitars to Kill’ in triumphant style as word inevitably spreads and the crowd begins to swell. There is something in ASIWYFA that will always desire to be of niche appeal. But, with the room filling ever quicker and compatriots This Will Destroy You and Explosions in the Sky also in the ascendency, it seems that for the moment the fan base they are so thankful for will continue to grow. There is some truth in their track title, ‘A Little Solidarity Goes a Long Way’.

So, there it is. A festival of convenience with an eclectic line up that showcases the benchmark of music today. The skill though, is in keeping that and sense of escapism and adventure that are so integral to the rite of passage that is the ‘festival experience’, but so often lacking at inner city events. Camden Crawl 2012 shows that while the geography of Camden has arguably changed for the worse in recent years; in the tapestry of attics, back rooms, regency theatres and great halls of the borough’s iconic venues, there is still an abstract quality that is spawning our collective musical future.

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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