Words : Adrian Hextall \ Krishan Singh
Pictures (C): Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media & Krishan Singh
To go totally against what Morrissey believe, not everyday is like Sunday, not everyday is silent and grey. The exception to Morrissey’s viewpoint is the 2nd day at Camden Rocks 2019. The emphasis being 2nd day. Not only are we back in Camden on a Sunday but this is the first time the festival has extended over 2 days. This then is not your average Sunday. The weather is not grey but remains glorious and as for ‘silent’…. haha, come on, this is Camden Rocks, we’ve got another 200 bands playing…. so where to start??
[Krishan] After a good night’s sleep I was ready to take on Day 2 which starts at the Good Mixer with INDYA which to be honest is a new one on me.
[Adrian] – To view Natalie Indya West’s profile on Facebook, she beautifully summarises her style and approach to life as “Rock Musician & Songwriter in #Indya, Pink..Leopard..Sparkles..fluff..Glamour..heels & chaos”
That pretty much sums up the music, the show and the attitude this young woman brings to the stage. Bringing to the table new musicians as well, the band INDYA made short work of the crowd at The Good Mixer and thankfully I managed to avoid a guitar to the face this time.
[Krishan] The band, led by the amazing Natalie Indya West who is a really confident and intriguing performer, spent 30 minutes blasting out the songs with an impressive stage presence. The band is immaculate and it made for an enjoyable performance.
[Adrian] – if we’re going to showcase one song from the band, it has to be this one that sums up INDYA perfectly:
Next up were SWEET CRISIS. Sweet Crisis are amazing musicians who play a brand of blues rock that we don’t seem to hear anymore. Reminded me of early Black Crowes . The Blues have never sounded so good. Added to it were some real moments of pure ‘groove’. The sort of added extra that makes a band like Sweet Crisis really stand out and leave other blues musicians in their wake. Worryingly, they comment on the groove driven songs as ‘stuff we used to play’ which suggests they’ve moved closer to a complete blues outfit. My personal view [Adrian] is that the mix is what sets them apart. The world is too full of pure blues acts right now. Stand out from the crowd, keep mixing it up and give me those totally ‘groovy baby’ moments as they really work!
[Adrian] The Dr Marten’s Boot Room provided the venue for the next band. Never heard of them before but who can resist a band called Snak Dracula? A goodf call as well as the tunes, groove laden, slightly trippy, very unique come from a band that rarely get to perform together. Your support is needed to get these guys out on the road.
[Krishan]. Highly enjoyable set from Snak Dracula. Great energy and fun to watch . The band do not play together very often but you would not have realized that watching them. They were on point musically and had some really good songs. Very enjoyable.
[Krishan] Next up were JOANOVARC an all girl band with hard rock riffs and some cool songs . Never seen them before but found myself dancing and singing to their infectious songs.
[Adrian] putting a new line up out for the first time in front of the Camden crowd was a brave but ultimately successful move by the band. With an eponymous titled cracking new album out, the band have the sound, the attitude, the looks and oh boy… so much leather, to go the distance. They carry all of the swagger and grit of The Runaways and mix it with more than a little Suzi Quatro.
[Krishan] Next up a quick walk up the high street to the Electric Ballroom to see one of the bands that inspired my musical direction while I was growing up ” A”.Great set from A all the hits and had the crowd in the palm of their hands. Jason Perry is a great front man that keeps the crowd enthralled.
[Adrian] Normally Krishan and I agree on a lot. Especially where music is concerned as that’s how we first came to meet. ‘A’ are a band I loved when tracks like ‘Nothing’ and ‘Starbucks’ first came under the spotlight. I remember them being the band of the day when they supported Limp Bizkit at Finsbury Park several years ago. It’s great to see them back and performing again. They tour later in 2019 and I need to give them another go as this set at Camden Rocks just seemed to lack something. I can’t put my finger on it but something felt odd, amiss etc..
[Krishan]Next up Mad , Bad , Crazy but absolute fun from the highly charismatic Ryuketsu Blizzard .
[Adrian] After dipping a toe in the water yesterday, watching a full set from these mad bastards was an absolute must. There is no real way to describe the band , the music , the show other than “you had to be there”. Who else would imitate the actions involved in giving each of the band members a cavity search (up to the elbow) with the appropriate facial expressions from the recipients as if it was really happening? Who else would strip down to a mankini and be carried around the room on a giant cymbal by their band mates? Who else but RB might then crab walk back to the stage before continuing to play again?
What do they play? Punk rock at its best. No idea what they sing about but that’s probably bat-shit crazy as well. A definite highlight of the weekend.
[Krishan] Finally for me Need I say anymore but TOWERS OF LONDON absolutely killed it. Full of energy, charisma and fantastic Rock songs. Always great watching The Rev he really gives everything he has on stage. Highly entertaining .
A highly enjoyable weekend already looking forward to 2020.
[Adrian] I make no secret of the amount of time I have for this band. Having spectacularly imploded after the release of the debut album, a decade later, fresher, wiser, inspired and making a movie called “F**K It Up” after the infamous song, the band put on a performance that others can only aspire to. The experience of what can and does go wrong in music has made them look at what works and they not present the good stuff and only the good stuff to the audiences. A packed crowd at Fest (venue) were up for it, the band were up for it, the end result… fantastique. A glass of celebratory beaujolais awaits.
[Adrian] With Krishan heading home thanks to work commitments the end of the festival fell to me and of the remaining acts ASH reminded me just why I fell in love with them in the 90s. An act that got me through the 90s when a lot of the music around at the time pushed me away, albums like ‘1977’ did everything to convince me to stick with it. ASH along with The Wildhearts, The Manic Street Preachers and others of their ilk were and still are what made music great in that era.
The Electric Ballroom proved to be the perfect venue for the band and although they have now gone back to the original 3 piece set up they started with, the energy with which they flew around the stage was like watching teenagers high on life.
Flagging somewhat after slogging my way around Camden for 2 days straight, the antidote to fatigue was FEROCIOUS DOG. Taking more than a slice from Levellers playbook, the band provided the necessary caffeine shots to re-energise everyone in the venue. At one point, with lead singer and guitarist Ken Bonsall standing on a bench at the side of the crowd playing whilst (I think) John Leonard went walkabout combined with a spot of crowd-surfing from the bar, the set was infectious, uplifting and just what was needed at 9pm at the end of a long weekend.
New album ‘Fake News and Propaganda’ is being taken on tour later this year. Check them out if you can.
And so to the last act (for me) of the day BIG BOY BLOATER & THE LIMITS.
A three piece blues act fronted by the man Jools Holland rates as the best blues musician in the country at the moment, the set and show is a little bit of blues, a little bit of rock and rock, a few drinks with your mates, a bit of cheeky banter and a whole lotta love both from band to crowd and back.
The perfect way to end the day, a heavier set than I’ve seen Bloat play for some time, less Chas n Dave and more crunchy riffs and it was just what the doctor ordered. As he drew to a close and I wandered home from Camden tired but upbeat, it was easy to take a moment to reflect on what organiser Chris McCormack has achieved over the last 10 years. From 40 bands and 4 venues on one day to 400 bands and 20+ venues over a full weekend, long may Camden Rocks continue. Full props to all of the staff and all of the techs who work the 20 odd venues for 12 hours straight on each day. A labour of love but ultimately rewarding and a huge success. It is without a doubt “THE” event for new music that can stand and shine alongside established favourites.