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Camden Crawl 2012: Day 2 – Luke’s Roundup

 
By on Monday, 21st May 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

It’s a much slower, hazier start in NW1 today – very much the morning after the night before. But as hard as the hangover may be, London gig-goers crawl on regardless. Sunday starts slightly later than the festivities taking place yesterday, but there’s still a wealth of new acts to discover without letting the on/off showers dampen spirits.

Yet again draught is being poured and shots slammed at the Wheelbarrow as the alternative rockers Tall Ships (pictured at top) take to the stage. There’s a certain buzz in the air as the pub is full from the front to the back before the Brighton trio play a single note…and then the party begins. Launching into a flurry of crunchy riffs, catchy choruses and colossal instrumentals, the indie-tinged three-piece turn one of the smallest venues on the Crawl into their own personal haven. Regardless of what comes out of the speakers during the next half hour, the crowd will lap it up purely based on the beautiful display of quality musicianship. No three chord songs for these boys, it’s a curious but wholly beneficial mash of grunge, post-rock and even a church organ that are played with such passionate gusto the audience are left captivated and enthralled with one of UK’s hottest prospects.

After John Kennedy’s offerings yesterday, XFM are again hosting bands at Koko (today curated by Ian Camfield) but the sound is much heavier. Sheffield’s mathy synth punks Rolo Tomassi enter the realm for a fury-fuelled barrage of screams, electronics and cymbal crashes. Don’t let the angelic demeanour of songstress Eva Spence fool you, though, as her vocal cords hide an unholy force. The guttural snarls and growls emanating from Spence’s tiny frame are just as mesmerising as they are terrifying. Throwing herself around the stage like a demented music box ballerina, the energy on stage can be felt up in the gods. Teasing in elements of doom with ‘Mr. Crowley’ style keys and a disjointed metal breakdown, it’s the beautifully chaotic ‘Party Wounds’ that lifts Rolo Tomassi up and beyond the ‘just another hardcore band’ tag. Stay tuned for the new album.

Outside the heaven’s are contemplating opening but that doesn’t stop 100-ish people venturing to Camden Gardens to witness a band on the cusp of breaking the scene. Akin to Enter Shikari and ‘There Is A Hell…’ era Bring Me The Horizon, Crossfaith look and act the most rock ‘n’ roll of any band at the festival. Hurtling around at 100 mph with Cheshire cat smiles and constant air-grabbing, these Japanese noiseniks are so proficient at their craft it’s a wonder why other bands bother at all. It takes a metal cover of The Prodigy‘s ‘Omen’ to win over the doubters, but once Kenta Koie opens his lungs the focus is solely positive. Ending their metalcore-meets-synth set on ‘Stars Faded In Slow Motion’ the weary crowd is trapped in a crazed mess of windmilling, air-kicking and shape throwing as Crossfaith crowdsurf their way to victory, claiming yet more fans in a journey to mainstream success.

Back at the Wheelbarrow is a local hero. The some-time one man band Beans on Toast is serving up his irreverent social commentaries. In a stark contrast to festival tradition, Beans on Toast aka Jay arrives on stage 5 minutes early treating his loyal fanbase to his upbeat, acoustic tales. Currently in residence at the Wheelbarrow every Tuesday, the cramped pub is packed tighter than a rush hour tube with eager fans queueing out the door. Opening on the crowd-pleasing ‘MDMAmazing’ Jay’s positive stance on drugs is no secret, and neither is his dislike for the Conservative government. He begins ‘I Shot Tupac Shakur and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt’ (an anti-Cameron ode containing the words “Hug a fucking hoodie, and he’ll punch you in the face”) before stopping mid-way – a trait that continues throughout the set. In tribute to his favourite Beastie Boy MCA, Jay leads his band and the crowd in a rendition of ‘Fight For Your Right to Party’ that ends abruptly but keeps the mood high and smiles wide. After a much-craved encore of ‘Rainy Day’ the throngs of music lovers pour back into the streets of Camden for the home stretch of the Crawl.

Down at the bottom end of Camden High Street, the stage at the Purple Turtle is warm for bands at the heavier end of the spectrum. Leeds noisemongers Hawk Eyes are smashing their way through a metric fuckton of metal to a deafened crowd. Hawk Eyes however are an acquired taste (a girl wrote the word ‘Shit!’ on my notepad) and sadly, the crowd thins toward the end of the performance that sees the hardcore-tinged rockers lean on newer material including ‘Kiss This’ and ‘You Deserve A Medal’. Unfortunately despite a stellar performance that sees frontman Paul Astick set up his mic stand in the middle of the crowd and scream bloody murder, there’s a general feeling of ‘meh’ amongst the onlookers.

There’s a lonely mic stand in front of an empty ballroom. A prophetic image and one that can be used for the entire post-rock scene. Tonight, though, the Belfast bruisers And So I Watch You From Afar over half-fill the historic venue with their Mastodon meets This Will Destroy You instrumentals. The supercharged three-piece send wave after wave of hooks and grooves until Camden is drowning in sound. It’s heavy but wholly structured and nothing is out of place, even the tangential breakdowns are a rhythmical masterpiece. Calling on material from their debut LP and latest album ‘Gangs’ the mathy ‘BEAUTIFULUNIVERSEMASTERCHAMPION’ and ‘7 Billion People All Alive at Once’ form the most magnificent soundscape of the entire weekend. Come back soon, boys.

Bringing this year’s Crawl to an end are the new masters of metal, Black Moth. Drawing on Black Sabbath and Alice Cooper for influence, the Leeds four-piece have received praise from the likes of Metal Hammer and Artrocker for their groove-laden rawk. Taking elements of Steppenwolf and Motörhead for a slight biker vibe, Black Moth are the new band in metal. It’s stripped back, dirgy, punky and there are no gimmicks. It’s just a four metalheads on stage in band tees and jeans playing some fantastic music that will see the Moth soar ever higher this year. Frontwoman Harriet Hyde stands firmly at the front with her Debbie Harry-esque vocals flowing out of the speakers and into the minds of the metal masses who have appeared out of nowhere.

As the feedback rings out into the Purple Turtle, Camden can rest easy until next year. There’s been over 100 performances in the space of 48 hours in a small corner of town and as the night buses start to fill with tired, drunk faces, the music capital of London has proved again that festivals aren’t about sitting in fields: they’re about music.

 
 
 

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