Camden Town was packed with fans and members of the press, everyone scrambling around trying to make it into that all important, ‘buzz’ band show. I first experienced this trying to get into the Creeper show at the tiny Barfly – I quickly realised how naïve I’d been after seeing the horde of fans outside waiting, which I discovered was due to Creeper filling to venue to capacity and security resorting to a ‘one-in-one-out’ policy. This was one thing I did have some annoyances with across the day as I was running about trying to see as many new bands as possible and wasn’t able to get into some of the more popular acts shows or into the smaller venues, say for example Yuck at the Barfly.
Brawlers (7/10) are an energetic, spontaneous and inherently cheesy band, but they’re so light-hearted that it’s impossible not to enjoy their set. Their set supporting Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes a couple of months ago at the Underworld hadn’t won me over so I was pleasantly surprised when I came out of Dingwalls remarking to a friend how much the guys in Brawlers had improved their live show, from the songs sounding tighter and their stage presence undeniable.
Whilst looking at what bands I wanted to check out, I found myself becoming lazy and almost sticking to venues that I knew as I had tried to go for further out venues that I hadn’t been to previously in the morning for some of the earlier sets but found myself getting lost or running out time for other bands so it was tricky deciding who to see and where. The festival is a great price for if you want to see select bands who don’t clash but unfortunately the line-up was annoyingly full of clashes for people like myself who wanted to see as many bands as possible with majority of the sets starting either at the hour or quarter past, meaning that you’d have to choose between bands or alternate between seeing beginning and endings of sets.
Youth Club (9/10) and their summery indie-pop songs won over the Camden crowd and it was obvious that they could’ve filled a larger venue such as Dingwalls or Barfly rather than the perhaps slightly odd choice of restaurant-bar Be At One, which seemed more like a PR and press people showing rather than a gig as it was relatively tame considering that people were eating and squeezing between the bar and a wall just to catch a glimpse of the band.
The Cribs (8/10) indulged the crowd by playing old favourites Hey Scenesters!, I’m a Realist and Men’s Needs. For me, they glaringly missed fire starter of a track Be Safe which was slightly disappointing, especially considering they only had a 13 song headlining set – but this may be more due to restrictions placed on the band or ending at a certain time for the after parties rather than a choice on their part.
Over the last few years I’d heard so many great things about Camden Rocks from the amount of new bands you can see in a day, the great price and how varied of a festival it actually is. But unfortunately I came away feeling slightly disappointed, not having seen bands such as Creeper, Yuck and Blood Youth due to venue restrictions but I do understand that this is simply due to the bands filling their allotted venues to their capacities rather than a fault on the festival itself. It was also hard to see some of the other bands at certain times such as The Cribs clashing with Sikth and then having to make a mad dash over to try and catch Young Guns before their set started. I ended up missing a lot of bands or only seeing half of sets trying to get around to the different venues in Camden which wasn’t helped by the nice weather or the excessively large crowds that were loitering on Camden high street.
Camden Rocks is an affordable, easy and great way to spend a Saturday but it could take notes from other day festivals like Slam Dunk to try and vary the set times a little just to allow festival goers more time to get to venues or to catch multiple acts, it would also be helpful to try and avoid the sometimes quite long lulls in between sets.