Camden Crawl (20-21 June '14) // Words: Saam Das
The Camden Crawl took an unexpected rest last year, returning this year in a new slot in the calendar, rebranding itself CC14. Much was the same as previous years however, with a strong selection of bands across multiple venues in the Camden area - although arguably somewhat reduced in scope. Headliners of the stature of Atari Teenage Riot and The Field being the contradictory evidence. I've always preferred checking out the smaller bands, however, and here's my take on day one of the festival.
First up was a jaunt to Camden Town Brewery, one of the less central venues - located by Kentish Town West overground station. Aside from recommending it outside of a musical context, with its strong range of craft beers, I can also say that it was worth popping along there to catch some bands. Having tipped them prior to the festival, I finally caught CYMBALS - their New Order-meets-Talking Heads style sparkled best when drizzled with a Balearic, dancey tinge.
CYMBALS' sounds were perhaps equally complemented by Thumpers frontman Marcus Pepperell amusingly conducting his vocal warm ups/imitating a bee to my side ahead of their forthcoming set. Whatever he was up to, it worked. THUMPERS stormed the appropriate sun-adorned outdoor setting with their euphoric efforts. Running through a series of anthemic singles, accompanied by an abundance of handclaps and some cheeky brass action, they shift CC14 into first gear - despite the early hour.
Mausi unfortunately pulled the handbrake on proceedings - even more so than standing at the bar and watching the finale of the Italy-Costa Rica game, which sent England out of the World Cup - taking the longest soundcheck of the festival. They did, however, open up with a series of upbeat tunes, partially making up for their earlier indiscretions.
Unfortunately, I had to evacuate the Mausi set fairly on, in search of the Camden Eye for Van Susans. Part of the Fringe programme, any old punter could stumble into the pub to catch the band - certainly, a double edged sword. As evidenced by the drunken arse who kept telling the band to "play The Pogues". They didn't, and gallantly carried on - their earnest violin-laden, pop-rock efforts deserve a finer stage next time around.
Wandering across the road to an old favourite venue of mine, The Underworld, I took in Mancunian quartet PINS. Not a band that I've ever been particularly enamoured with on record, but one who I'd been recommended to catch live at some point. Their percussive, visceral garage punk sound and confident attitude demanded attention, without necessarily changing my views on their music more generally.
Nonetheless, day one (and indeed, the rest of the festival) was a success - busy without causing arduous queues, no hassle getting into venues from bouncers, and fine beers on offer. (I imagine I'll be returning to The Underworld for their Underworld Pilsner, even though it did cost me something like £2.60 for a half.)
Find more info at thecamdencrawl.com.