On Saturday me, the boyfriend and some of my ace chums headed along to Camden for some live music-y goodness at Camden Rocks Festival. For those of you who don’t know London well, Camden is basically the centre of alternative/rock/punk/whatever culture in the city. It may have more dingy toilets than fancy cocktail bars, but Camden has such a great feel to it, and is definitely a place I’ll always look to for a great night out. I feel at home there, and it has a real spirit that’s different to anywhere else I’ve lived or visited.
Music has been a huge part of the area for over a century, with the Camden Theatre opening in 1900 – although with more of a focus on classical, opera and musical theatre. In 1930, the Buffalo Club (better known now as the Electric Ballroom) opened as a venue for Irish folk music and began the area’s rise to notoriety for its gigging scene. Since then, lots of bands have graced the stages of Camden venues in their early days, including Led Zeppelin, The Clash playing their first ever gig, and later on, Britpop giants Oasis and Blur could often be found hanging out in local venues on their visits to the city. Camden Rocks was started in 2009 by Chris McCormack, and the first festival saw performances from The Libertines’ Pete Doherty and Carl Barat, as well as Nine Black Alps, Ginger and Black Spiders, among many others. This year’s lineup was pretty impressive – with around 200 bands across 20 venues, the variety of acts was definitely a great selling point.
The first band we checked out at The Underworld was Verses, an up-and-coming, indie-punk-rock band with some great melodies. Over at The Purple Turtle, Flood of Red played a stunning set with some fantastic vocals (only slightly marred by the fact they could have turned them up a bit!). After bouncing around to Blitz Kids in the Electric Ballroom for a bit, we tried to go and see Gnarwolves at The Barfly, but the queue was massive, so popped into The Monarch to check out The Hype Theory instead. I’ve seen them before at Warped UK, and despite the pub having a tiny stage, they had a great presence, interacting with the audience and delivering a tight performance. If you like female-fronted pop-punk with great vocals, definitely check ’em out.
Our ‘headliners’ for the day were The Blackout, and we got to the Underworld early and saw some of The Howling before hand, who I’d never really heard of but actually really enjoyed – they sounded a bit like Steel Panther, but how Steel Panther would sound if they were actually good. One thing I’ve always known The Blackout for is having consistent live performances, and this one was certainly no different (even though the venue was so bloody hot I sort of gave up moving in fear of sweating out my internal organs. I don’t like The Underworld much…). Having two vocalists without instruments allows for a lot of crowd interaction, and thanks to a small stage, there were a couple of trips into the crowd from co-vocalist Sean Smith. The setlist was a mix of a few older songs and some newer ones, and a pretty good ‘summary’ set of their music.
Camden Rocks is a really lovely little all-dayer – the atmosphere was brilliant, with all types of people from punks to goths to indie kids walking around just having a good time. A huge thanks to Plus One Magazine for sorting us out tickets!