Festival season begins in a North London indie haven every mayday Bank Holiday weekend and this year, true to form, it kicked off with Camden Crawl.
First up was the Electric Ballroom for the wonderful Swedes, Simian Ghost. They’re great at creating euphoria, building a happy wash of sound layer by layer, like Hot Chip at their most blissful, gentle and content.
The next band won me over in 3 chords. Throwing Up were a heady mix of Elastica’s throwaway sleepy vocals, and the relentless assault of The Ramones. When I was learning guitar I wanted to get past one finger power chords, these guys use it to their advantage. It’s all black moods and distortion and when the final song hit the chorus it let out eight extended banshee shrieks and then finished. That’s how you do it.
From there, a swift bus up to Kentish town for the best band of the weekend. The Abbey Tavern couldn’t have been more full, nor more happy. The sheer euphoria of Team Me is hard to describe. It’s that feeling when you fizz with excitement because life is brilliant, well, listening to this band transports you right to that exact state of mind. They look like they’re having fun. The crowd were on their side. Good job as they ended up performing there! At one point the bassist, who was performing from the exit due to the heat in the venue, motioned to start drinking a girl in the crowd’s drink, she was delighted but her boyfriend gave him the blackest look! You couldn’t have squeezed more people in, they were brilliant and of my favourite finds of the last few years. The bald guy with lipstick kisses all over his head looked like he was loving it too.
Wrapping up Saturday was an acapella, stripped down set from Futureheads including covers of Kelis (appropriately ‘Acapella’), The Television Personalities and Sparks (a lovely version of The Number One song in heaven).
This was four strong musicians trying something new and it was really enjoyed by their fans, whilst also managing to showcase how strong their tunes are. ‘Beginning of the Twist’ sounded great reworked as did the shuffly jungle book-esque take on ‘Hounds Of Love’. More power to them.
Sunday began with Niki and The Dove, an act that totally deserves to be on the biggest stage. She had the biggest sound of the weekend, a huge sense of space, a driving rhythm through two drummers and for the most part performed live. A mix of Kate Bush/ The Knife histrionics over posh pop ala Hurts. The finale of a double tempo Simian Mobile Disco style rave up was brilliant.
I can guarantee I was the only one who made the trip from that shiny pop-fest, up the road to Blacklisters. Think Nirvana ‘Bleach’ era, a little Primus, and a few odd time signatures. Really great, although their mid set confession of being influenced by Kasabian, in the way they act, and the way they dress was probably to be taken with a pinch of salt. I loved the breakdown where frontman Billy took to singing without mic over just a bassline, making the drop even louder when it came. Go see this band live and then love them forever.
Since playing ‘Okinawa Channels’ on the show I’ve been intrigued to see NZCA/Lines live. Definitely an act to bracket with Miike Snow, Hot Chip, and Metronomy’s brooding basslines. It also reminded me of some of the great eighties synth soul like Scritti Polliti.
From them to a band I didn’t see. Eh? Well, I was in a queue for a burger when a group of lads came in deliriously singing Peace’s ‘Follow Baby’,made me think that perhaps is a sign of big things to come for them.
The penultimate band was Clock Opera. A clever lot who are not frightened to embrace experimental sounds. One track had them each pounding lumps of metal thumping out a tribal beat, another track had frontman Max recording the audiences cheers to play back as the intro loop to the next song.
‘Once And For All’ sounded huge, euphoric, Max has great presence and interaction with the crowd. Musically he’s the heir to the art-pop thrones of Peter Gabriel and James Murphy.
Finally then, The Cribs with the added guitar beef of David Jones from Nine Black Alps. You know sometimes you see a band and didn’t realise how much you loved them? It was one of those gigs. ‘Be Safe’ was spectacular with Lee Ranaldo (of Sonic Youth) on the big screen. Mirror Kissers was amazing, and when you see an ocean of people bouncing in time you realise that ‘Men’s Needs’ is one of the anthems of the last decade.
Finally then, it was a great way to round off the weekend. There were such great vibes in the crowd, people starting conversations randomly, I love that! One girl, seeing my white earplugs in place, asked me if it hurt to have that bit pierced. Brilliant. Not quite up for piercing my eardrum, hence the earplugs!
So top tip from the weekend definitely Team Me and you can hear my recent chat with them here.