Thousands of people flocked to the north London borough of Camden for a feast of the finest emerging British rock, metal and punk talent at the annual Camden Rocks Festival on Saturday (2 June).
The action kicked off at 12pm with music running into the early hours of Sunday morning at various afterparties, as rock fans were treated to live entertainment from more than 200 bands and artists across more than 20 venues around Camden. We did our best to get to as many performances as possible throughout the day, and here’s Part 1 of our overview of the acts we made it along to.
Most of the bands I was most keen to see were in the earlier hours of the day, kicking off with Sheffield rockers Deadset Dream opening things up at Belushi’s. They kicked the day off in fine style with Snakes & Ladders, with its fun poppy rock intro gradually building up in heaviness.
The pub gradually filled up, which was impressive for so early in the day, and the band soon stepped up the rockiness with a cover song followed by I Fancy Your Chances Kid. Frontman Shiney Lingwood explained the track was “a fuck you to people at school who said you wouldn’t achieve anything,” and opened up with a big rocky intro then a cheeky little solo that ed into a rocky opening verse.
Next up was a new song Autopilot, which sounded a bit more anthemic but ended with a big rockout that fed into a final chorus and featured a huge sounding bassline.
They closed out their set with The Fall, after which I left Belushi’s to some awful little pop girl walking past the pub saying “It’s too early for that, too early.” Never too early, never.
I wandered back up through Camden to an already packed out Dingwalls Canalside to see Camden’s own indie rockers The Gulps.
I arrived a little late so may have missed the couple of tracks I knew, but the band were on great form. This is a really fun live band that’s full of energy led by charismatic frontman Harry All, and had loads of people down the front singing along with their tracks.
The mood completely switched up with our next act, as I headed down to the Electric Ballroom to see the fascinatingly creepy masked collective that is Sleep Token. They came on stage to a reverby noise then drawn-out vocals over bassy backing noise. Eventually huge guitar and bass kicked in with creepy backing synth sounds, followed by haunting, piercing high-pitched vocals over guitars and bass and a mass of flashing lights. Huge low-tuned guitars then took over, supported by huge drum rolls and a booming bassline, to complete a stunning opening to their set.
Next, prolonged high pitched vocals exploded into a huge rocky ending amid the awesome visuals of the frontman draped in a hooded top and the hood pulled over his masked face and full beard, alongside guitarists and distant drummer in their seriously creepy white masks and the keys player looking equally creepy and comparatively small.
They closed out with a song that saw a huge bassline supporting faster, rockier vocals, then funky little synth noises that gave way to eerie high-pitched screamed vocals.
For a taster of what to expect from the Sleep Token live show, just check out our video here.
I moved back up towards Camden Lock and returned to Dingwalls Canalside to see London rockers Weekend Recovery, our New Band of the Week back in November. The venue was even more packed, and I struggled to get anywhere near the front of the crowd, or even see the band properly, until their last couple of tracks.
Again I arrived a little late, but got there in time to see them play Oh Jenny, which was dominated by the huge punky vocals of frontwoman Lori. That was followed by a new single, for which Lori got the whole crowd clapping through the intro then launched into huge repeats of “I can’t feel my face.”
Next was the fast-paced Why Don’t You Stay, in which Lori launched into some ridiculously good screamed vocals, followed by the lively title track from their debut album Get What You Came For, which was released in April.
They closed out with Why Don’t You Love Me, with big riffs opening up then launching into a fun punky verse that flowed into the catchy singalong chorus. They even had time for an encore, so they played Monster to bring a really fun set to an end.
I moved back to the Electric Ballroom again, this time to see another of our New Bands of the Week, this time from March in the form of Colt48. The duo had already kicked off by the time I arrived, and were busy rocking the place up with their trademark sound of huge rocking guitars.
They swiftly launched into Out Of Habit, with the big vocals of Adam Jerome backed up by pounding drums from Matt Savini. That was followed by the impressive Hate Hate Relationship, which was dominated by Adam’s booming low-tuned guitar riffs.
They closed in typically heavy fashion with Never (Let You Live It Down), with its huge chorus then finishing with a massive smash of guitar chords.
The duo put on a great show to an impressively large audience in this big venue, so I think it’s safe to say they’re building up a strong following.
The hard rock continued as I moved down to the ridiculously hot and sweaty The Devonshire Arms to see London rockers At The Sun.
They opened up in fine style with the excellent Breathe, with huge choruses followed by big rock outs and a cheeky solo from the excellent lead guitarist Chet Jogia. They followed that up with the saucy Walk On Over, with its dirty opening riff and huge vocals from frontman Harry Dale then another awesome solo from Chet.
Next up was a new track called Bite Your Tongue, which Harry explained was about saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. A particular high point was a huge cry from Harry dropping into a low riff that gradually built up in speed and heaviness and developed into a big rocky smash-up.
That was followed by latest single Preacher, before they closed out with the excellent Devil In Your Eyes. It kicked off with a cool vocal-only chorus then the delicious opening guitar riff and developed into another huge rock out.
This set, which kicked off at 3pm, provided an excellent rocky ending to my run of back-to-back afternoon gigs, ahead of things getting even heavier and sweatier as we moved into the evening. Check it out in Part 2 tomorrow!