Monday, 15 September 2014

1/6/2013 Camden Rocks festival


June gets off to a good start the the return of the Camden Rocks festival. This event is back for the second time after a break of a couple of years - the first one was quite a success. This festival is along similar lines to the famous Camden Crawl, but this is less indie and more rock 'n' roll. Promoter and ex-3 Colours Red guitarist Chris McCormack has rounded up loads of bands - some you'll have heard of and some you won't. At £20 a ticket it's great value for money and works out at around .20p per band. Most of Camden's best known venues are hosting shows and they are all in easy walking distance of each other.

Things don't get off to the best of starts for me as due to public transport problems and confusion with the wristband exchange queues at The Barfly I end up missing the first band I had planned to see - I end up arriving at The Black Heart just as The Cut Outs finish the final song of their set. Fortunately for me, there are very few stage time clashes and after this poor start I do manage to see nearly every band I wanted to see.

Not even stopping at the Black Heart long enough for a drink I head off up the road to The Monarch to see the Dedwardians. One of the first people I bump into in the pub is the Yo-Yo's and ex-Wildheart Danny McCormack - brother of Chris. He is less than impressed that I am wearing a Ginger T-shirt, although he can laugh about it. ;-) He looks in good shape and is in high spirits looking forward to his show up the road later.

Is it too early in the day for rock 'n' roll? It seems weird being in a pub at lunchtime with sunlight streaming through the windows to see a rock 'n' roll show!
The Dedwardians are a new band with ex-Glitterati man Paul Gautrey on guitar. They are rather good, but not much like Paul's former band.
The band have a strong image - all dressed in black as the best rock 'n' roll bands usually are. Sonically they remind me of the Doncaster Destroyers Groop Dogdrill, although they certainly don't look like them. This is a band I'll certainly be going to see again.

Soon I'm heading back in the direction I came from, and walking further down towards Mornington Crescent for my first visit of the day to the Purple Turtle. And visiting my third venue of the day I finally get my first drink - the Newcastle Brown going down very nicely!
The Dogbones are the reason I'm here. The Queen Adreena offshoot have brought a modest crowd to this venue to experience their jagged guitar riffs and twin drummer attack. This bunch of punky grungers continue to improve, but although they play well enough I don't feel they are at their best this early in the day - they've probably only just staggered out of bed.

It's not long before the Dogbones set is over and I find myself heading back up Camden High Street. In passing I pop into The Wheelbarrow (formerly Tommy Flynn's) not having any idea who will be playing. I am pleasantly surprised. I discover a dirty rock 'n' roll band called The Corderoys. The are loud and raucous - not unlike a British MC5.
I am impressed to notice the guitarist is playing an old Gibson Marauder like mine - you don't see many of them these days. Discovering good new bands like this is one of the great things about events like this - finding bands you have never heard of and would probably have never seen otherwise.

The Newcastle Brown in the Wheelbarrow is over £4 a bottle so I'm out of there pretty quickly once the band have finished. I'm off to the Jazz Cafe - via Brewdog as I know I'm unlikely to find anything I want to drink in the venue. At the Jazz Cafe I find one of the biggest crowds I see at any venue today - The Howling are building a following, although it helps that they feature members of a couple of well known bands...
The Howling feature ex-members of Red Star Rebels and the infamous Towers Of London, but sound like neither of those bands.
Singer Blacky has ditched his dodgy hats, and guitar hero 'The Rev' has ditched his old less than loyal bandmates. They deliver a full-on rock show with some decent tunes, and some less than reliable technology.

I have to head off sharpish as soon as The Howling finish as I don't want to miss the Yo-Yo's. I know the Barfly will be packed and I want to make sure I can get in.Fortunately I do manage it, although this is the most crowded venue I see all day. It's also the best gig socially for me as although I do bump into people I know at nearly every gig I get to today, there are more of my friends at this gig than all the others put together!
The Yo-Yo's play a terrific set of catchy punk 'n' roll. The setlist is virtually all taken from the band's first (and best) album 'Uppers And Downers' - and I wouldn't have it any other way! Danny McCormack and Tom Spencer are the only original members of the band, but just hearing all those cracking songs in a Camden venue again is fantastic! The set only lasts about 25 minutes - not much different to the old days... They play most my favourites, including 'Home From Home' - the best song ever written about a pub! Like at a Wildhearts show (only much more intimate) the atmosphere is amazing.Most the singles get an airing, as does popular B-side 'Stockholm Sick Blues'. That song often features  in the Loyalties set is well as that band formed out of the ashes of the final Yo-Yo's lineup. All too soon the Yo-Yo's set is over and I have to rush off to the next gig....

I'm heading back down Camden High Street yet again - hoping to maybe catch part of the Maleficent set at The Wheelbarrow. Unfortunately this is the only gig-clash of the day, but I just couldn't miss the YoYo's as they are one of my favourite bands ever and it's so rare to get a chance to see them. Just my luck - for once things are actually running on time and I arrive to find Maleficent have finished and are already packing up. To be fair, I have to say this whole festival seems very well organised and to be running on time and smoothly. Fortunately, The Wheelbarrow is on my route so at least I haven't gone out of my way...

I'm soon back at the Purple Turtle - this time to see Bleech. Like the amazing JoanOvArc (original power trio lineup) who I have also seen a few times at this venue, this is a 3 piece band is fronted by two sisters; Jennifer and Katherine O'Neill - guitar/vox & bass respectively.  Like JoA this band also like to rock out and play LOUD.
Bleech are one of those bands on the underground scene who give you that feeling they might just make it - success seems almost close enough for them to reach out and touch. There are loads of other really good underground bands out there - some of them better than Bleech, but but you just know most will never make it. Some of them have that eternal loser/underdog vibe about them and however good their songs and live shows are they will never make that next step up - and many of them know it in their hearts, but they keep going anyway. Some of them genuinely don't give a shit and aren't interested in making it anyway. Some get offered chances but refuse to compromise their integrity to attain the big prize. I don't think Bleech fit into any of those categories. They are working hard to put the pieces together, and bit by bit they are getting closer. They realise you have to focus single-mindedly on what you want and constantly work towards it with a professional  attitude without losing momentum.
Bleech don't rock as hard as JoanOvArc at their most intense, but they do play like they mean it. There is less of a hard rock influence and more of a grunge and indie vibe. This is a band who have been out 'paying their dues' on the live scene for several years, and it shows. When they get on a stage they know exactly what they are doing - although I'm not so sure on Katherine's wisdom in taking to the stage barefoot! Stages at rock venues frequently have broken glass on them (how well was it swept up last time?) as well as many other dubious substances that have been spilt on them over time...
Bleech close their set with a big ROCK ending, and then I have to decide where to go next?

It's a bit late to get back to the Barfly to catch ex-Sex Pistol Glen Matlock, but as he's only doing an acoustic set I'm not so bothered. Therapy? are on there next, but I know from previous experience that the joint will be rammed by then and I'll be lucky to get in at all. I'm sure conditions inside will be horrendous, and I find out from Twitter that the venue is already enforcing a 'One in - one out' policy. I decide not to bother. It's a shame as one of the best gigs I've ever been to was Therapy? at the old Camden Barfly venue @ The Falcon when they played a secret show supporting Groop Dogdrill. The Barfly was a cooler and less 'Corporate' venue in those days though

I naturally gravitate back towards BrewDog for some quality liquid refreshment.... Suitably refreshed by some fine beverages, I then find myself in another of the festivals twelve venues - Camden Head. It looks like events are winding down and I think they only had acoustic acts at this venue anyway. Some decent beer to be had there so it's worth checking out anyway.

As the sun starts to set over Camden Town I set sail for home, not realising that I'd missed one more band I'd intended to see - the Deadcuts are the second band playing today featuring an ex-member of the Wildhearts. Ex-Senseless Things man Mark Keds was only in the Wildhearts - for about 5 minutes though. ;-) His new band were playing at The Enterprise and were down as my 'Plan B' if I didn't get into the Barfly for Therapy? Not sure how I missed that. Oh well, it was a pretty good day and top value for money at £20. Same time next year then?

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