If there are three certainties in life they are; death, taxes and Camden Town on a Saturday will be incredibly busy. Throw into the mix an all day festival up and down this glorious hive of culture and tourism and you find yourself in the midst of pandemonium only in the best way possible. Granted, wait times to get into certain higher profile gigs (looking at you Creeper) where gargantuan but that’s to be expected at a festival that celebrates one of the more loyal and devoted genres.
As the crowds grew in the sweltering London summer sun, my day began slightly later than everyone around me but OhBoy! at The Dublin Castle where perhaps the perfect opener. With a career that’s building in traction, and for good reason, their live show is raw and full of energy that can only be describe as angst driven. A no holds barred opener, and that was just a glimpse into what the rest of the day held. After the set finished and the dust settled, I made my way up through the throng of fans bustling around the busy street. Normally this wouldn’t be included in the review, but upon walking further up the street there was a street performer who had created an elaborate and detailed mock setup of The Mad Hatter’s tea party from Alice In Wonderland. It was terrifying to stumble upon but seemed oddly natural in the Camden environment. Anyway, back to the important aspect of the day, the music.
The only issue with having a festival that is spread across such a vastly popular place is the logistics of flowing between bands and venues. It requires a lot of forward planning, something that befell my experience due to my own short comings. Still, by being restricted I was able to experience bands I wouldn’t have otherwise considered, case and point, Chapter & Verse. Performing in The Monarch, a short walk from The Dublin Castle, a venue that while small in size more than makes up for it in personality. Taking to the stage, Chapter & Verse brought a heavy post hardcore sound that erupted the small venue and wasting no time, they sought out to make an impression. The singer Josh Carter soon took to the floor from the stage and engaged with the crowd, giving a performance filled with anger and frustration. Just what we like from our music.
A quick stop off at the Barfly downstairs venue where Leika gave a performance that while not strictly concurrent with the rest of the line up, more of a post-punk sound that hardcore, they still managed to win over the majority of the crowd who definitely wouldn’t fit into this social stature. Another one of the pros of the small festival circuit, a merging of cultures and tastes. It’s really hard to fault anything about this day, minus the ever growing crowd, but alas with every success comes the bodies.
Heck, who were performing not one but two shows, started the first of their two sets with a show at Underworld in Camden. A venue that’s aptly underground, was packed to the rafters, but that didn’t stop the band performing a set that, at points, was literally hanging upside down from the pillars. A truly remarkable set that solidified the reason a band like Heck are a part of this next generation of rock, and should be at the forefront for a long time with ease.
Going back to the aforementioned Creeper set. A band who have had grown such an immensely large cult following that the queue for the entrance to the venue became a sordid “one-in-one-out” affair an hour before the actual set. Still, it was worth every minute in the queue. What was definitely one of the highlight sets, it was filled with chaos and chords that rang so loud still some weeks later I can hear them ringing out.
After Creeper it was time to head back down to Electric Ballroom. MOSES took to the stage here and began the final run for this historic venue. The final two acts, Caral Barat & The Jackals and The Cribs, like Leika before them, don’t quite match the intensity of the acts around them but they still brought their own brand of insanity to match that of the majority.