Live review and photos (C) Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media
Restrictions are slowly lifting, life is returning to normal, indoor gigs without social distancing are once again becoming a thing and we have a plethora of bands desperate to play and only so many venues available to host them all. The solution…? Mini-festivals that run for the day featuring 8-10 bands are becoming quite the thing and who better to host them than the team behind Camden Rocks Festival.
Starting small therefore, allowed for a return to one of the regular venues used by the annual Camden Rocks Festival, the Camden Assembly holds just a couple of hundred people but when full, the walls and ceiling sweat profusely and the atmosphere generated by a room full of sticky bodies flying around in unison was the most ‘welcome’ of feelings and I never ever thought I’d say that again!
Our date, one of several under the ‘Camden Rocks Presents’ banner saw the doors open just after 1pm with a bill and location comprising established, new, and rising acts from our fair capital.
Getting there later than hoped, we missed what I’m sure were great sets from The Routine, Sinka, Jo Jo & The Teeth and Happy Science. However with 6 acts remaining, and a solid audience looking for a really good time, the cameras came out as did the notepad and we settled in for a set from Slater.
Slater are a power trio with one foot in the Ash camp and the other in The Virgin Marys. A radio friendly sound saw the talented 3-piece gain a fair few new fans thanks in no small part to the efforts of lead guitarist, singer and songwriter Harry Slater. It’s refreshing to see talent like this in one so young (I only remember college vaguely – it’s in the dim distant past, Harry is still in college as I type) and it’s even more inspiring that the band’s hard-hitting indie-rock sound appeals to not only the numerous people that had clearly followed the over from Goldsmith’s college but also those (like me) that were at the gig just to see what new music was out there.
Next up were the unusually titled Raven Fangs. To say it was a curveball act would be an understatement. Everything about them felt like a component was at odds with something or someone. Now don’t get me wrong, the set itself was immensely energised, tightly performed and enjoyed by band and crowd. Breaking it all down though, from someone not in the know,
- The name implies they’re going to be a heavy metal outfit,
- The look of their lead singer suggests something slightly more Gothic oriented yet ,
- Their sound is definitely a mix of punk and alt-rock.
If music is art and art is designed to trigger discussion then they win hands down as myself and my reviewer in crime, Krishan remained enthralled, bemused, intrigued and more than a little confused during their short but determined set.
Full marks for impact as I’d quite like a chance to hear them again!
:Cynics followed Raven Fangs and in lead singer Ruby Harpin they have a future star in the making. For those old enough to remember, four piece indie punk band :Cynics reminded me of Crucial Taunt, Cassandra’s band in Wayne’s World. The sassy bass playing lead singer who was as much at home working the stage as a pure singer as she was as a musician. The first and only one to nail the energised jumps throughout the entire night, the rest of :Cynics also brought a lot to the party with the drummer and guitarist switching roles mid set to show off their versatility. All that was missing was a cover of ‘Ballroom Blitz’ to keep me happy.
Introspective suffer from what can simply be described as “a lack of original tunes” whilst still generating the largest crowd of the day. It’s a tough call for this one, there were calls throughout their set for ‘play an original’ yet there is no doubting they brought all the kids on to the dance-floor.
They had without a doubt the best crowd support of the night, the best reaction to their songs (covers) and it perhaps shows a problem with modern music right now. They may well have played, for example, a note perfect cover of an Arctic Monkeys tune mixed with the dancing fans on the floor and put on a real show but they remain a covers band. Whilst there is a market for it, the band do themselves a disservice by pandering to Spotify playlists rather than taking the plunge and writing their own stuff. A shame as the energy and playing chops were there and a set of decent songs of their own and they could have a future.
STAR CIRCUS & THE KUT
The final two bands of the day and the main reason for me being present in the crowd brought their own style, energy and most importantly their own song writing prowess to the mix. First up, Star Circus, an act born out of recognition that sometimes the lead guitarist in a band needs the chance to stand front and centre and lead his own ensemble rather than allowing someone else to steal the limelight. Guitarist for Ryan Hamilton and the man stage left for more bands than I can recall, Dave Winkler has been writing songs for years and finally we got to see him realise his dream of performing many of them live. Recent singles were performed, solos were teased knowingly from Winkler’s blue left hander whilst bassist Sophie Aurelia Young performed on stage with the band for her first live show. Thomas Erbi made up the three… wait… three-piece? This was supposed to be a blistering five-piece live show for the band but the dreaded COVID-19 struck and dropped the five to a three.
To read more about Star Circus, check out our interview with them here:
Thankfully they still delivered and after a run through the singles from the forthcoming debut album were aired, they departed to leave us with headliners The Kut.
An energised set from the multi-talented The Kut closed the show with a mixture of alt-rock numbers with more than a dash of glam mixed with a L7 shaped cherry on top of it all. Like most artists The Kut have been in limbo for the last 18 months. Nominated for Live Breakthrough Artiste 2019 in the Live UK Music Business Awards and with debut ‘Valley of Thorns’ released in 2018, the band clearly needed this and future shows to re-engage with their fans and start climbing the ladder once more. If the passion and energy that was on show is anything to go by, they’ll do very nicely.