has long been a hotbed of musical talent, it's rich history turning
it into London's spiritual home for all things Rock. Camden's main thoroughfare
boasts a string of iconic venues from smaller capacity gigs holding
a couple of hundred people like the Black Heart, and Barfly, to bigger
venues catering for a few hundred like The Underworld and Electric Ballroom,
and up to large scale events at The Roundhouse, all along the same stretch
of road. Camden Rocks hasn't taken over The Roundhouse quite yet but
with over 200 bands hitting 20 other venues all in the one day the festival
has certainly become an essential date on the Rock calendar. Opposite
the tube station is the World's End which acts as the main meeting place
and hub for wristband collection. It's an ideal set-up for an urban
In 2014, I had an excellent day photographing some of the shows for
Pure Rawk. Have a look at their coverage here,
(including more of my photos). Some of the bands I had seen before,
some for the first time. Some of my photos of Sonic Boom Six were used
in the official
2014 highlights video too which was put together by ever awesome
Ash TV Music Video.
Check it out to get a feel for the festival's vibe.
I returned again with Pure Rawk for the 2015 event. It featured one
of the best line-ups I've seen for a Rock / Metal / Punk festival anywhere.
Some of my photos were included in Pure Rawk's review of the whole day.
I wrote a bit of blurb too, on The Graveltones, And You will Know Us
By The Trail Of Dead, While She Sleeps, Bullet For My Valentine, and
Skindred. Have a look here.
That's not all the bands I saw though. It was also a chance to catch
Black Spiders again after last seeing them about 3
years ago. It appears Pete "Spider" Spiby has ditched his
guitar and now just sings which does give him much more of the look
of a frontman. With or without a guitar he has always been great with
a crowd and unsurprisingly Black Spiders attracted one of the biggest
crowds of the day (in the biggest venue) and played a cracker of a set.
It was my first chance to see Hyena who I highlighted in FEATURED #1
when they were known as Weatherbird. With a new name
and slight change of musical direction I was keen to check out the new
sound. Frankly, and thankfully, there isn't alot of difference. Their
Indie edge has been replaced with more Rock grit and they suit the slight
style change well. I'm glad it is a progression rather than anything
too drastic as they were awesome before and so are still awesome now.
Their last release "Mental Home" gives an idea as to future
output. Brawlers were their usual energetic selves
making the most of the Jazz Cafe stage (and balcony!). Punk Rock at
its best. After seeing Press To MECO at the Great Escape
Festival earlier in the month I wanted a second look. Their upbeat Punk
tinged Rock and ace vocal harmonies really hit the spot with the packed
out downstairs bar at the Barfly. Great stuff.
A band that was completely new to me that I stumbled across while waiting
for another gig to start was The Bastard Sons. They
hail from York (so many good bands coming from that part of the UK at
the moment!) and play a loud heavy blend of riffs and groove with big
foot stomping choruses. The vocalist has that bluesey gruff singing
voice that adds weight to an already huge sound. He seemed humbled the
venue was so busy for them and amazed at the great response they got.
Better get used to it guys.
Another first for me were Rival State. Unfortunately
I joined the set with just a couple of songs to go but that was enough
to see their quality and get a feel for their music. I've been listening
to their Gutter Mouth EP quite a bit since. Keeping within a commercial
Rock framework there's plenty of vocal hooks and they like to mix up
the tempos, grooves and feel of the music which keeps things interesting
even after multiple listens.
A worthy mention should go out to God Damn who played
a couple of shows. I caught the first one of the day, at the Electric
Ballroom. At last year's Camden Rocks they played the Black Heart. It
was cool to hear this band's glorious racket pouring out of a much larger
PA. With recent appearances at Download and a support to the Foo Fighters
hopefully that's a sign God Damn are getting the appreciation they deserve.
Aswell as those already mentioned, I had time to enjoy seeing Gun
(still rocking as good as they were 25 years ago!), Polar
(savage melodies, getting more and more epic every time), and a couple
of songs from Star Scream (first time I've heard them
- will definitely be checking their tunes further).
For me, as much as I enjoyed all the bands I saw, there were three in
particular that really made my day... While She Sleeps, Bullet For My
Valentine and Skindred. The Skindred show at The Underworld
was one of the hottest, sweatiest gigs I've ever been to. They always
put on an excellent show (remember to bring an item of clothing you
don't mind taking off so you can do the 'Newport helicopter') and were
utterly superb once again.
While Skindred were melting everyone at the Underworld, along the road
at the Electric Ballroom, Bullet For My Valentine were
receiving some serious adulation of their own. This was a real coup
for the organisers and everyone in the room was making the most of it.
Much of the crowd had got there a couple of bands earlier just to guarantee
being in before the venue reached capacity. The new bass player fitted
in perfectly, sounding like he had always been in the band, and there's
a fresh heavier sound to the new music, while still keeping those trademark
While She Sleeps are a band I have seen many times
over the last 4 years watching them grow from a tight powerful unit
with lots of potential to an absolute beast of a band laying waste to
all they roam across. Some bands achieve a level of excellence where
such language and poetic licence can be applied to their reviews...
While She Sleeps are most definitely such a band. Another awesome gig.
Camden Rocks is now firmly established as one of the must see events
in the Rock calendar, selling out for the last two years. With their
proven track record, if there's any festival worth a gamble for early
bird tickets this is certainly one of them. At the very least don't
leave it to the last minute and risk missing out on a cracking good
For more info check the website at... www.camdenrocksfestival.com.
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