Standing outside The World’s End in Camden the excitement is building for the day ahead. Indie, rock and metal lovers are crowding the bar collecting their wristbands and checking the band schedule. Plans are being made and everyone’s eager to get things started.
Kicking things off at The Good Mixer is Fallen to Flux (7.5/10). The venue is small but the crowd are excited and there are a few FtF t-shirts walking around so they clearly already have a loyal start to their fan base. It’s busier than expected for a first band of the day situation and this clearly pleases lead singer Oli, who thanks everyone for being there. Luke throws out some meaty baselines for Outside, Looking In that get the audiences attention and while the band play it’s clear this is a bunch of very talented musicians who work well together. Oli has a cheeky smile and the charm that every frontman needs to win a crowd over and it isn’t long before the place is moving.
Everyone claps along to Playing with Fire and even when the mic falls of the stand a few times during the set it’s met with a casual air of humour and a professional edge to keep going. As the set continues more people come in as they pass by, filling the room which is no less than these boys deserve. Plans for a debut album and tour mean this is just the beginning, we will be seeing a lot of this band and they evidently have an exciting future ahead of them.
Down the road at The Stillery, EofE (7/10) are playing to a modest crowd. With its blacked out walls and large open spaces it’s a very dark room and you can almost forget it’s sunny outside. The band acknowledge some fans who they clearly have seen at shows before, showing how important their fan base is and how much they want to stay connected to them. This West Midlands five piece casually say a quick ‘Hi’ before bursting into Bridges. Lead singer Tom is softly spoken but has a clear clarity to his voice that makes this band a good crossover rock band.
Their sound, whilst fitting happily into the rock scene, allows for fans of other genres to come and enjoy. It’s good clean rock, no growls or screams that some would assume come hand in hand with this music. The crowd join in the claps through Save the Night which is catchy and has people singing along through the chorus. Drummer Nicky absolutely smashes through the set with a passion only found in someone who truly loves what they do. The set is well put together and goes off without a hitch. This performance has more energy and feels more driven than when they toured with Glamour of the Kill recently. They seem focussed on the future and building the EofE army.
Heading into the Underworld it’s already packed out wall to wall. The last time Glamour of the Kill (8/10) played the Underworld there were some evident technical issues that left lead singer Davey hard to hear but luckily this time that wasn’t an issue. The band steam into Out of Control from their latest EP but it feels like the crowd are lacking energy, even with songs as hard hitting as Earthquake – this may be because it’s a festival so not everyone in the room is a hardcore fan. The band also took things back to their first album Savages which saw Davey take to his bass for Second Chance and let Mike really open up on the guitar riffs.
As they slide effortlessly through their set, the sweaty bodies of the audience finally seem to appreciate this bands talents as they blast out popular live choice Break. Finally we see some action from the audience as they break out a mosh pit. It still feels a lot tamer in the room than when they toured here last and even Davey references to the crowd being somewhat asleep. Even with this feeling the band crack out some more gifts from the After Hours EP and then jump back to previous hit Freak Like Me. This is a crowd favourite and Davey gets everyone to raise their glasses and drink with him and gets everyone screaming Fuck Yeah. Things got wrapped up with a wall of death kicking off the final song Feeling Alive. This band never disappoints, they always give everything they’ve got, even though they admitted to being worse for wear from the previous nights drinking fun. It was a polished performance that resonates the professional attitude of a group serious about delivering the best performance they can.
Right down the other end of Camden we step into Belushi’s and Voodoo Vegas (7/10) are about to hit the stage. Stepping through the archway into the tiny room at the back of the venue, it already feels like this venue is not big enough for this performance. It’s completely packed but feels slightly like someone’s garage. There’s no room to move and the crowd spills out through the arch into the bar, proof that after doing Camden Rocks for the last few years, they deserved better. This aside, in true VV style it’s all about having fun. As soon as they begin the audience is dancing along, trapped in frontman Lawrence’s grasp. He’s a true showman and knows how to get a crowd going. Their sound is big, almost too big for this room but everyone laps it up and cheers wildly after every song. It’s easy to see that everyone in this room is a fan already, once again ready to witness something great.
With an effortless talent, female guitarist Meryl Hamilton shows that in a mostly male dominated genre, girls can kick arse too. She puts on a fun and flirty performance, and appears to be having fun as she gives her best ‘rock chick’ pose for the photographer. The stage is small with little room to move but the band manage well with the space issue, and pull off a fun, light hearted performance. Lawrence, dressed in what seems to be his favourite red shirt, works his harmonica during Killing Joe and has everyone throwing out a series of ‘yeah’s’ at his command. This band are really great to watch and when King Without A Crown finishes it’s clear no one is ready for this set to end. Chants for one more song echo throughout the room until the band agree to play requested song Bullet. A well put together performance with all the flare expected from these rising stars.
Heading back to the Underworld for Heaven’s Basement (8.5/10), the queue is a mile long outside. The downside to such a festival is there is still a capacity rule and it was clearly maxed out. As soon as you enter the venue the heat is unforgiving, I’ve never seen this place so packed, it’s a struggle to even make it to the stairs that lead down to the stage floor let alone get down them. As the time rocks up, everyone is eager to get started. Finally, just a few minutes later than scheduled, guitarist Sid walks onto the stage followed by bassist Rob. Drummer Chris settles on his stool, and the room is ready, the crowd are raring to go, and then frontman Aaron bursts onto the stage straight into Executioners Day from their album Filthy Empire.
The whole room is moving and after fans in London missed out on the few shows they did further north with Glamour of the Kill earlier in the week, they were more than ready to see this band doing what they do best. Sid shows us his exceptional guitar skills right from the off and gives the vocal support to Aaron to flesh out the songs. Aaron has an incredible energy on stage and a distinctive vocal tone that is unmistakeable. It’s not long before he dives into the hands of the front rows during I am Electric, which is something he’s well known for doing. He’s still the only performer I’ve seen do a handstand on top of a gig audience!
The band tear the roof off with Can’t Let Go, everyone is going crazy, the whole place back to front is a mass of sweating bodies jumping around. We get a taste of Sid’s raspy vocals during Lights Out in London and he really cracks out some impressive guitar solos. While Aaron steps off stage for a bit, Sid takes to the mic for Paranoia and shows that he’s just as much a star of the show. In the absence of their frontman the band rock out together and seem to enjoy having the stage.
On Aaron’s return they slow things down with The Price we Pay. As lovely as this song is, it didn’t seem fitting to the set and the atmosphere of the day and it’s clear the crowd felt it too as they seem to get distracted and lose interest a little, with a lot of chatting going on and checking of phones. Luckily as soon as they launch into Jump Back everyone’s attention is again on this awesome band. In true Aaron style he leaps into the crowd once again, only this time managing to not just crowd surf at the front but right to the back, up the stairs and round again back to the stage! These fans love this group, and as soon as Welcome Home starts it’s a firm favourite. The guys finish their set with Fire, Fire, a hard hitting rock tune to cement themselves in the hearts and minds of everyone there. This bands shows are second to none, every time.
It’s been an awesome day, the sun has been out and spirits high for all the great bands playing. As we head into the Electric Ballroom to see headliner Bullet for my Valentine (9/10) the atmosphere is buzzing. It’s so busy you can hardly make it to the bar at the back of the room. With a career spanning well over a decade this band have a loyal following. Every age group seems covered as you look around the room – everyone here has been waiting all day for this, and expectations are high. Before the band are even due on the chants are filling the air, making it clear that there are a lot of eager fans present.
Bullet burst onto the stage straight into No Way Out to roars of the crowd. As the stage lights bump out to the machine gun fire rhythm of the guitars BFMV seem happy and chilled and they sore through the set with the professional excellence we’ve come to expect from these stars. Their obvious and exceptional musical talents are evident in how clean and sharp this performance is. Heading straight into Your Betrayal followed by more from their back catalogue of work, it’s clear that they are having a good time. Frontman Matt stands listening to the chants of ‘Bullet’ coming from the crowd between songs and simply says “It’s good to be back”. The audience is familiar with the song choices and sing through The Last Fight and almost sing the whole of All These Things I Hate.
The foursome let the fans in on an exclusive of new song Broken from their upcoming album, saying that they’ve been working hard the last few months on it. There seems to be massive excitement about another album offering from the Welsh metal heads. After the departure of bassist Jay earlier in the year it was good to finally get to see his replacement live and new guy Jamie fits perfectly into the band. It’s been seen from social media and from a few fans I spoke to on the night that he’s been well and truly accepted by the bands army of followers.
As expected BFMV went out on a hugely popular tune. Tears Don’t Fall is very much known by most rock and metal fans even if you don’t follow the group’s work, it’s been played on every channel going and is one of their most famous songs. The crowd happily sings along, with no signs of making a head for the exit to beat the rush, which you see a lot at gigs. They want to get everything they can from this set and they are stuck to their spots until the bitter end. On asking a few fans what they thought of the performance tonight words like ‘epic’ ‘awesome’ and ‘spectacular’ were thrown out to me.
With an album on the horizon there’s no sign of this band slowing down or losing their place in the music world. If anything they will just continue to rise.
Camden Rocks 2015Photographer: Colm Browne