I remember sitting in The Elephant’s Head in Camden last year. RavenEye had just smashed their set at Dingwalls and every other venue was full to the rafters so myself and two friends retired for the evening; Camden Rocks 2018 had come to its end. Beer and whisky were flowing in equal volume and with a quick glance at Facebook, we saw the news: Camden Rocks would be back in its usual weekend for 2019 but with the added caveat that it would be doubling its efforts. Two days, 400 bands over 20 venues with double the people set to attend. Already, we were looking forward to 2019 and now it’s almost here.
There’s something great about this festival like no other. The sun always shines, the atmosphere is electric and for me, it’s a chance to see some of my favourite bands as well as catch up with friends. No matter what area of our music you like, there will be something to delight your eardrums – rock, punk, indie, metal, alternative or a combination of them. It’s all here in one area and a chance to see newcomers and legends alike.
The great thing about this festival is its setup – with bands coming far and wide to ply their wares to London’s coolest corner, do you opt for the bands you love and know will be great or will you seek out those new discoveries? You might pass a venue, hear what you like and find your new favourite band. Or is there that band you’ve heard great things about and decide to catch them here for the first time? Or do you play it safe and go to see the ones you know for a fact will be a great time?
For me, it’s a healthy blend of all three. If there’s a band you know is going to be popular, get down early because once a venue’s full, it’s full and it’ll be a case of one in, one out. And whilst you’re waiting for that all-important band to take to the stage, you might make a new discovery. Then there’s the planning – there’s always clashes galore and then you’ve got to navigate Camden itself as it’s business as usual for the area but now with several thousand extra people, especially if your next venue is at the opposite end, getting to it can eat up a chunk of time.
So without further ado, here’s the bands I’m hoping to see over the weekend and recommending you should too!
- Ginger Wildheart – as a recent convert to the church of The Wildhearts, it’ll be great to see Ginger deliver on his own.
- Rascalton – I caught this indie punk mob last year and they blew me away. I reckon this is going to be a busy one!
- The Hyena Kill – the first band I ever saw at Camden Rocks after our Rachel told me about them a few months previously. I’ve since seen them numerous times and it’s been quite some time since the last occasion. If you like your rock noisy and filthy, this is where you need to be.
- Catholic Action – with their old-school sound, blending a number of sounds together, this will be one to bring your dancing shoes to.
- Dead Label – we saw these guys at Wildfire a few years ago and were impressed. They’ve since become a four-piece and I can’t wait to see how the extra guitar brings a new dynamic to their heavy, crushing sound.
- The Empty Page – I’d been a fan of this lot for quite some time and finally got to see them when they supported The Hyena Kill. Full of intensity and angst, the blend of indie, alternative, punk and grunge makes for a captivating set.
- The Idol Dead – another one I discovered at Wildfire a number of years back. Their glam punk sound was full of energy from a tight band who love to play.
- Rival Karma – blues and grunge shouldn’t really mesh but if you do it right, you can make it work. I can’t wait to see what these guys are like in a live environment.
- Doomsday Outlaw – I’ve seen these hard rockers a few times and they always put on a blistering show. Last year’s venue was rammed so hopefully we get a repeat of that, or even better, moved to a bigger venue.
- Puppet Kings – bringing grooves and riffs in equal measure, their last couple of EPs have been great to listen to so it’s only right I finally catch them live.
- The Virginmarys – it simply wouldn’t be Camden Rocks without these guys! My must-see of the weekend and let’s be real, it’s a festival I’m going to be at – of course I’m going to be mentioning them!
- Rews – after discovering this twosome at the tail end of 2017, I got to see them at Camden Rocks last year and they smashed it. With a new drummer set to join the fray, their alternative pop-glossed rock will wow another set of Camden go-ers.
- Bad Touch – I’ve been covering these guys for a number of years and I sadly missed their Camden Rocks debut in 2017. With them at the top of their game on their recent tour with The Quireboys, the classic rockers always deliver.
- King Creature – hand-picked by Phil Campbell & the Bastard Sons on their upcoming November tour, their gritty hard rock stylings will be a perfect match. And this will be a great way to get acquainted with them ahead of time.
- Skarlett Riot – they never give less than their all and last year’s appearance was the best I’ve seen them yet. Here’s hoping they’ve stepped their game up once again.
- Joanovarc – a band I’ve heard a lot of great things about. We’ve had them on our pages a number of times and I’m sure they’ll live up to the hype.
- Black Orchid Empire – one of the ones that got away at last year’s Camden Rocks after reviewing their album days beforehand. Alternative hard rock at its finest and pushing the genre forward, I’ll be doing my best to catch them this time.
- The Kut – I’ve heard great things about this band from so many people. Last year, the venue was packed and the queue outside was massive with no chance of getting in. Here’s hoping I’m more fortunate this year!
- Salvation Jayne – I loved their blend of gritty, scuzzy, dark sounds on their self-titled EP last year and I can’t wait to hear how the songs sound live.
- Third Lung – their EP wowed me earlier this year and I could already picture how great their sound would be in a live environment. This is a must.
So, as Camden Rocks continues to become more sprawling year on year, it’s always hard to whittle down the ones you have to see and this year has proven to be one of the hardest yet. Even if there wasn’t any bands I recognised on the bill, going into my fourth year at the festival, I’d be there regardless. All that’s left is to wait a few short weeks before that visit to The World’s End and the planning of the days can begin in earnest!