Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Review: Camden Rocks 2016

How Do You Get To Carnegie Hall? Practice. How do you conquer Camden Rocks? You just don't...seriously, you just don't. On Saturday, June 4th, Noizze was offered the opportunity to get coverage on this ever-thriving festival in the heart of London, and forwarded a small team to get a write-up on the days events. "Have fun!" they said...clearly they had never been to Camden Rocks...the following article is based on true events and is an accurate depiction of what Noizze endured that day.

Our story starts in Cardiff, where at the wonderful hour of 03:15am, Noizze climbs aboard their pre-booked Megabus to head into London. It's officially ridiculous o'clock, but with Camden Rocks being an all day event, we need to be there with time to spare as we literally have no idea where we are going. It's our first time in Camden, let alone covering this festival...but we soldier on committed and eager. Queue hiccup number one; there is a person aboard said bus, with an invalid ticket, and we have an hours delay while the police arrive and escort him off...we'll just put it down to a bad start.

After a couple of hours resting up on the journey, we pull into London Victoria at around 07:30am and our mission officially starts; we navigate the underground and get into Camden with plenty of free time, and our first task was to go over our notes. We managed to find The Ice Wharf, a Wetherspoons right beside Camden Dock so decided to have breakfast while we planned our attack on Camden; checking venues, stage times, clashes, make sure we have a solid game plan and to-do list, it was looking good, so we waited to go and collect our passes and tucked into our breakfast. Hiccup number 2; our English breakfast was practically cold, and our eggs were like rubber...bleak eggs they were. What do they feed their chickens in Camden? Terrible...thank god for coffee.
11:00am after more coffee (and a cheeky beer) the time has finally come for us to collect our wrist-bands and photo passes for the day, which we get from The Worlds End, a bar next door to The Underworld, one of the venues on our list today. We get our passes and official programs and it immediately dawns on us what a monumental task we have in front of us. There is a map in said program, and it clearly indicates where all of the venues are for today...all twenty of them. And are they in close proximity? Are they fuck. We are literally talking end to end of Camden with VERY little time to spare between sets, but we aren't discouraged, our first band of the day is next door, so we wait and get good spot for AS LIONS [8].

Emerging from the ashes of metalcore outfit Rise To Remain, As Lions are quite possibly the greatest new rock band of 2016 and a brilliant start to this festival. Front-man Austin Dickinson does his daddy proud today and rips the Underworld a new one; tracks such as debut "The Fall" and new single "White Flags" are absolutely HUGE and made all the more crushing by the intimacy of this small downstairs venue, they are virtually immediate anthems for a new generation of rockers and alongside tracks like "The Suffering", makes this band one to watch 100%. Their upcoming debut EP is going to be special.

Over at the other end of Camden then, at the Barfly, Cardiff's SAMOANS [6] mellow out the afternoon crowd with their ambient yet sometimes riff-heavy musings. Tracks like "I Am Your Density" starkly contrast the hustle and bustle of the streets outside and in a way it's like a brief respite from the chaos of Camden Market. Speaking of Noizze managed to find the Kraken Rum ice cream van...yes...jet black, Kraken rum flavoured ice cream. Our photographer was mortified...and the general taste with the added ginger gave our (now black) tongues anxiety attacks...not good.

At 15:00 we are in the middle of looking for The Cuban, a venue at the heart of the market, to catch GINGER WILDHEART [N/A] who sadly we don't catch for a number of reasons. Namely, we walk past the venue twice but don't notice at all because it's surrounded by scaffolding and very clearly un-clearly marked...and when we DO realise, the queue is a long one, it's like that world record attempt of squeezing people into a Mini Cooper...however, from what we gather it was a short but sweet set, mixing solo songs with The Wildhearts back catalogue, and for what its worth, we missed a treat. Hiccup 3.

INME [7] are up next after a trek right back down to the Underworld for their 16:00 slot, and it's here things really begin to become a struggle. There are so many bands we have to see that are either clashing or so far apart, our experience of Camden Rocks turns into whats better described as an episode of Supermarket Sweep on fast-forward on Sky+...but we persevere and with a set including opening track "Reverie Shores" , plus fan favourites "Single Of The Weak" and "Underdose", InMe deliver strong. YASHIN are in the crowd too...they play here later but...we don't have time for them. Sorry guys.

17:00...we're on the road again and now it's BACK up to the Barfly for THE QEMISTS [8] who are growing in popularity since the release of their latest album "Warrior Sound". Their heavy dub-rock approach harks back to the days of Pendulum, and currently signed to FiXT, a roster that also features The Algorithm, Blue Stahli and Celldweller, they are going to flourish. Tracks like "Jungle" and "Run You" are just massive and the venue can barely contain the energy. CREEPER [8] are up next, upstairs, and what we need to point out, is that by now, the crowds have grown substantially, as have the queues...and the Barfly is now operating a one-in-one-out system. Noizze has press allocation, but that accounts for nothing apparently, even our photographer, who needs to be at the front to work, isn't allowed in. We do get to see Beez, from Scuzz and Download's Lowdown interview the band outside..but that's besides the point. We do eventually get in, and Creeper in all fairness put on a hell of a show; "VCR", "Black Mass" and "Valentine" go down a storm and they prove why they are one of the hottest bands on the scene right now...and venues this size wont contain them for very long.

For the record...because of queues, we've missed RECKLESS LOVE [N/A] playing the Electric Ballroom...which sucks. Hiccup 4...but never the less we find ourselves on the road again and we have a three way clash to contend with at 19:00. Rising Welsh stars THE DIRTY YOUTH [7] play The Crowndale at the very bottom of Camden and with their set at Download a mere week away, they take the opportunity to tighten their set, featuring old favourites like "Fight" with newer hits such as "Alive" and "Just Move On", Danni Monroe a natural performer and she fronts up well. Meanwhile over at Dingwalls, NEW YEARS DAY [8] bring a heavier, almost gothic touch to Camden. Riding a wave of hype themselves, tracks like "Kill Or Be Killed", "Epidemic" and "Anthem Of The Unwanted" simply level the venue and this is one of the highlights of the whole day. Ash Costello is one of the brightest (or darkest) stars in rock today and she owns that stage. The third band? VUKOVI [N/A] again, sorry guys...

The Underworld again next as we happily welcome ZEBRAHEAD [7] onto the stage as they treat us to a barrage of their finest pop-punk merriment. With back catalogue bursting with tunes, the crowd is treated with "Postcards From Hell", "Call Your Friends" and older favourites "Rescue Me" and "Hello Tomorrow" and they once again prove they are one of the most entertaining bands on the live stage right now. By contrast however...back over at Dingwalls, QUEEN KWONG [6] both tone and tune things down a peg or two with a heavily grunge-rock inspired set. Wes Borland plays guitar for QK but honestly, it's weird seeing him dress like a normal human being outside of his Limp Bizkit duties, but this is a totally different kettle of fish. This is deep, intense and almost pure frustration as a media form, with tracks like "Cold Daggers" and "Get A Witness", the latter almost as bleak as the eggs in Wetherspoons across the somewhat brings the mood down, but luckily, by staying put, we get to catch YOUNG GUNS [N/A]...or so we thought. Due to technical difficulty, they are at least twenty minutes late getting on stage, so we catch "Speaking In Tongues"...then have to leave for our bus home back to Cardiff. Hiccup 5.

It's on our way home, rushing for the tube, trying to catch a bite to eat, after our vegetarian photographer is offered meat based products after explaining her vegetarianism to a guy she's trying to buy a simple hummus wrap from (hiccup 6)...when we're on the we finally stop and contemplate what an absolute clusterfuck today has been. It's been long, it's been stressful, it's been expensive (£10 for two ciders is NOT ON mate)...but it's been Camden Rocks and quite frankly, it's been an experience. Are we prepared for next year? Of course we are, will we end up having another mental breakdown with so much to cover? Of course we will...but that's then...for now, Camden Rocks 2016 has been a blast. Thank you for having us, you NEARLY defeated us Camden...NEARLY....
PS, the sockets on the bus home didn't work either. Hiccup 7...

Written and reviewed by Gavin Griffiths

Published by Kristian Pugh

Fuel Rock Club

Fuel Rock Club
Cardiff's Only Dedicated Rock & Metal Bar and Club