Like the Pick n Mix counter at Woolworths, Camden Rocks has so much on offer it’s hard to know where to start. To help you find your way GIGsoup are here to give you six of the best acts to catch live this year.
Punk trendsetters The Damned have for over forty years confounded ‘expert’ opinions that they’ll never last. Having had just the one top ten hit ‘Eloise’ just over 3 decades ago the fact remains they are still able to sell out the Royal Albert Hall (which they did last year), so how do they do it? Well, they are one of the all time great live acts mixing their own eclectic mix of genres with on stage shenanigans and individual identities that don’t match, shouldn’t work, but really do. As a front man Dave Vanian has always let his singing voice speak for him so is slightly aloof from the event he finds himself in (or occasionally doesn’t, in times gone by he has managed to miss entire tours by vanishing). Whereas the 63 year old adolescent hooligan who goes by the nickname Captain Sensible (he preferred Dame Edna Beverage but it never stuck) is like a child with ADHD and does have a tendency to go off on tangents and needs reining in, prompting Vanian’s “meanwhile, back at the gig..” to achieve catchphrase status. As for why you should see The Damned at Camden Rocks Festival 2017, Sensible puts it one way in a Gigsoup interview “Catch us now – before we’re dead”.
Energetic, accomplished, random, varied and fun The Damned are a band who every serious gig goer should see and with Sensible having fallen off stage on their Canadian tour in April and ended up in hospital , time may be running out.
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At the opposite end of the spectrum age-wise there is Moses, a band still on their way up and it is very possible their star may burn brighter than that of The Damned. Moses have an ear for catchy singalong choruses which never leave you. There is so much class musically that you could forgive them for a lack of live presence, but you don’t have to, in person they collectively produce enough energy to power a small city.
From London, singing about London, at venues and street corners all over the capitol are Imperial Leisure. There are so many members to this band that in the same way that you are always within 10 metres of a rat, if you are at a gig in London you are probably stood next to one of them. With songs like ‘I’m in love with the landlord’s daughter’ and ‘Razzle Dazzle’ (well, what else rhymes with vajazzle?) this SkaPunk band are the most mischievous fun, equal parts irreverent and entertaining. Like Benny Hill mixed with Madness, they’re the musical equivalent of a line of shots at a topless bar.
Less mischief, more rocking are Devon’s Reigning Days. Having just signed to Marshall Records this three-piece outfit have a new album to showcase and a point to prove. Having moved from an afternoon slot at last year’s festival to a prime 8pm slot this year their profile is growing. Always ready with big riffs the boys have spent a year honing their talents live and with their brand of bombastic, keenly crafted rock being appreciated by an ever wider audience thanks to the likes of Royal Blood there maybe big things in store, get in early.
Black Orchid Empire are a typical Camden Rocks Festival act. They have a terrific undiscovered classic of a debut album, Archetype, which is melodic, powerful and crammed full of melancholy, passion and joy. It is an album with some instantly memorable riffs and others which creep up on you and insert themselves into your subconscious so you hum them when you least expect it.
And finally the rebellious bastard child of The Streets and Nine Inch Nails, MassMatiks. This is a band that is really pissed off but as you’re part of its #squad you’re safe. MassMatiks make you feel like you know them and their issues.They are constantly making poor life choices: bad girlfriends; annoying so-called ‘mates’; they’re probably crap at poker and never win on the scratch cards but one thing they definitely are is believable. This is Ground Zero Music, tunes from the sharp end of life. It’s gritty, it’s loud, it’s subtly clever and ultimately it’s 100% authentic, fantastic!
Stage times are being announced now, these are ones to arrange your day round.