Gig Review: Camden Rocks Festival – Part 2

Following on from the afternoon session of Camden Rocks Festival, which we covered here, the evening saw things get a whole lot heavier and sweatier as the day-long celebration of emerging British rock, metal and punk continued.

Having seen At The Sun bring a rocking end to the afternoon, I moved back up to Dingwalls to see south London rockers Press To MECO for the first time. I’d heard good things from this band from plenty of people, but I was blown away by just how good a show they put on.

They got a slightly longer set than previous bands, opening up with Familiar Ground, the opening track to their excellent second album released in March, then got people moshing as they blasted into Diffusion of Responsibility.

The heaviness continued in If All Your Parts Don’t Make A Whole with its big catchy “And if you’re searching for the answer” singalong vocals. A big guitar intro to Itchy Fingers kept the pace up, before the awesome singalong Howl.

Next, A Quick Fix was possibly the best song in a brilliant set, opening up with a huge metal outro, repeating the huge riff over and over for the audience.

They closed out in equally impressive fashion with the massive guitar riff that opens up Affinity, with the big guitars continuing throughout.

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But just when I thought a new level of heaviness had been marked for the day, that was well and truly blown apart by Birmingham five-piece SHVPES. Packed into the absolute sweatbox that was The Black Heart, I got there nice and early to get up to the front, and it was truly boiling hot.

They kicked off with a massive opening track then jumped into a second song that I think may have been latest single Undertones, which kicked off with huge low-tuned guitars in the intro.

That was followed by the awesome Skin & Bones, with its huge “woh-oh” vocals really getting the crowd going. Then a new track, potentially called Someone Else, opened up with rapped vocals, then huge booming guitars and cymbals took over in an absolutely huge smash-up.

They closed out in equally heavy fashion, sparking a big circle pit then frontman Griffin Dickinson, donning a lovely ‘Jesus is a cunt’ t-shirt, instructing the crowd to split into two and run at each other, sparking a frenzied ending to the set. If you’ve not seen them before then SHVPES are huge, a brilliant live band and easily offered the best crowd involvement.

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Feeling disgustingly hot and sweaty I headed back to The Devonshire Arms to relax with a beer outside ahead of Cambridge rockers Hollowstar, our New Band of the Week last March, at 7pm.

They opened up with a naughty guitar riff then huge vocals from frontman Joe Bonson through a chorus supported by the same riff in what I think was New Age Lullaby. Another cheeky riff kicked off the next track, then dropped into a verse with gradually building guitars and drums before smashing into a big chorus.

They played a new track Sweet Suicide, which began with a rocky intro and opening verse supported by big jumpy guitars. Phil Haines smashed out a huge guitar solo that fed into a final rocky chorus.

The pace dropped down a little for the intro to Feel The Burn, which Joe explained was dedicated to anyone that doesn’t know handle the invisible illnesses that are going on in their life. A laid-back verse saw big vocals over light guitars then a delicious guitar lick kicks in over more powerful vocals.

They closed out with new single All I Gotta Say, which began with a laid-back opening verse then smashed into heavy guitar chords and a funky little guitar blast before a big singalong chorus. Again, The Dev was ridiculously hot and sweaty, but Hollowstar pumped the heat up with a really impressive performance.

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Next I moved onto a new venue of The Dublin Castle to see London trio Black Orchid Empire, another of our former New Bands of the Week way back in November 2016.

They opened up with a huge low-tuned riff that set the scene for an awesome set dominated by excellent frontman Paul Visser. Then a drum intro opened up Wires, which led into a huge riff that kicked into a big rocking track from their second album Yugen, which was released next week.

They returned to their debut record with Riff of Death, which opened up, as the name suggests, with an awesome riff. Then they brought their set to an end with Celebrity Summer, which began with chilled out vocals before blasting into a big dirty riff.

Next, I headed down to The Good Mixer for something very different from London’s Arcane Militia. Their unique ‘aggressive love metal’ sound merged frontman Mikael Hunter’s awesome vocals with hard-hitting riffs and epic solos, alongside Mikael sprawling around on the floor.

We’ll be talking to these guys very shortly, so keep an eye peeled for more soon.

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I finished up my fix of all-day music back at The Devonshire Arms to see its headliners As Sirens Fall. The Wakefield emo punkers put on a superb show, but I lost my notes from the gig so I can’t expand much beyond that. All you need to know is, go and see these guys live!

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This was my first Camden Rocks, and it was a fantastic day. There were so many good bands on all day long, making it really difficult to pick between certain acts and, given the space between venues, manage to make it along to all of the sets I wanted to take in. But, it’s a great testament to the emerging British music scene and, as Joe from Hollowstar pointed out, highlights how the live music scene is truly alive and kicking.

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