Another year on and the all-day music spectacular returns on the 2nd of June. It’s 11am in North West London, the press wristbands have been acquired from the helpful Camden Rocks staff. Time for coffee and a chance to peruse the Camden Rocks Festival booklet. Coffee helps with being an early riser. I’m wearing the wrong attire for a hot day like this, boy it’s hot and I’m here sipping black coffee wearing a hoodie and jeans. I’m sweating even before the bands start.
Thousands of people making their way around iconic Camden town. Amongst the many gatherers are two colleagues from The Moshville Times, Ross and Rachel outside the Underworld. I live in London, it took me no time at all to get here. Ross and Rachel don’t and I’m the one who needs the coffee. Anyway, this year we’ve come mob handed.
First port of call is Fest, the refurbed horse’s stables on Chalk Farm Road. Hustling and bustling through the busy morning streets of gig-goers, market shoppers and the usual pub drinkers in my way as we head to see Sick Joy, a three-piece London based band who’ve been a unit for just over a year. Rachel checked out their debut EP earlier in the year. Have a read of the review.
By 12:15 I needed a livener which Sick Joy provided, riffing their way through the opening set of this festival of rock n’ roll. There’s a taste of Nirvana’s “Rape Me” and the vocalist’s angst-ridden singing provide pleasure for the ex-teenage me. A great start, Sick Joy did what music is meant to do, engulfs the blood flow and makes it move quicker around the body. I’m high on this band and want to hear more, but it’s a short set and there are more to see.
Catching my breath, we head to the streets when the three of us split go our separate ways. Off I go for a bit of lunch at the canalside market. Stalls in abundance with varieties of food from healthy to unhealthy from meat lovers to vegan educators. I cannot see Bang Bang Chicken this year. Last year the Bang Bang Chicken man could be heard singing the odd Frank Sinatra number as revellers passed his stall.
2pm and off to Camden Monarch for London-based grunge rock three-piece, The Kut. I’ve been following this band since hearing their EP Rock, Paper Scissors. This year they released Valley of Thorns, their debut album, and Moshville Times was given the chance to review it.
The venue swells as fans of all ages squeeze in tightly to see one of the hardest working bands on the circuit. The three have been touring the UK, finished their debut record and signed with Cargo Records leading to Valley of the Thorns being in the top ten of the rock charts… and they go off on a tour again.
On stage early are Princess Maha, Stella Vie and the awesome hard-hitting drummer Diana Bartman. Soundcheck’s completed and it’s five minutes before kick-off, so The Kut kick off early. Sweat is in the air the smell is strong and runs deeper than condensation, but we cheer, we’re squashed, and gig etiquette seems to be leaving the London scene, anyway. The Kut hit us with “I Don’t Need Therapy” and “I Want You Maniac” through to the stomping “Bad Man” which this year includes a respectable crowd invasion.
The final tune is “Hollywood Rock ’n Roll” leaving us in the audience wanting more. Princess Maha’s vocals and riffs are astonishing, she stands on the speakers bleeding out her riffs with Stella Vie on bass and her constant smile while the facial expressions of drummer Diana Bartman pushes the steam of heat around this tight, perspiration drenched venue. Another successful gig from these rising stars of the UK scene.
I leave the Monarch, stepping into the hot Camden streets with my jeans sagging. Luckily my belt’s fixed tight, so no embarrassing moments.
Who’s next? Let’s go old school, and head back to the Underworld.
UK indie/rap rock band Pop Will Eat Itself created in the 80s and reformed in 2011 with many line-up changes. Their sound creates a feeling with the atmosphere of political lyrics, hard-hitting riffs and a fist in the air to fight the man. The Underworld’s banged out. If you’ve never been before then the name befits the venue. It’s dark, the smell of beer and sweat surrounds us as feverishly as a chugger who catches your eye.
PWEI kick into “Preaching to the Perverted” followed by “Can U Dig It” – I always love a Warrior movie reference. They flow through “Nosebleeder Turbo TV”. Taking us back to a time before mobile phones, “Wise Up! Sucker”. Listening to these guys brings memories back of the UK scene and pioneers Senser. PWEI energise the place with “Watch the Bitch Blow” and “Ich Bein Ein Auslander” finishing with “Def Con One”. My first time seeing PWEI allowed me to see how even with changes since they formed, they can command the stage.
Where to next? I need air, so I sit by the air con in the Underworld bar.
I stay at the Underworld for the next band that many have spoken about. There’s a buzz cascading around the venue, about these guys from up north. Getting myself a stool as I’ve bad feet. The seat has my name on it, as did the pole strategically placed in my view.
On come five-piece Sonic Boom Six (SB6). The Manchester ska, rock, hip-hop band storm the stage. Vocalist Laila Khan and Paul Barnes (Barney) grasp it like they bought it. Their diverse sound has everyone dancing, from “Virus” through to “Piggy in the Middle” ending with a “Back in Black” guitar riff. Kahn and Barnes’s dual vocals work so well with their telepathic senses, I’m sure of it, and they keep it up the entire set. The crowd skank, mosh and bop their heads. Sonic Boom Six bring together a sound and feel of great genres. They end with a smooth The Clash cover of “I Fought the Law and the Law Won”. I need to say the bass is soul moving, heavy and it’s felt through the soles of my plantar fasciitis.
Leaving the Underworld… where to next?
A singer-songwriter I met some time ago is at The Brew Dog around the corner from The Underworld. I head straight there, down a flight of stairs into a small seating area turned into a music venue for the day. Sitting with his acoustic guitar in hand, is Harry Pane. I’ve seen him in the past perform the odd open mic show in East London and he supported Frank Turner. There’s a good number of people here to see him. His voice is mesmerising as is his use of acoustic guitar, it’s gentle and the opposite of PWEI, Sick Joy and The Kut as you’d expect with a festival such as this. The vibe is chilled with recent or not so recent couples wanting to be open with their public displays of affection. Seeing some of this I wish it to be barred from bars like smoking!
Just to let you know I’m still wearing jeans, a very thick hoodie, a hat and I’m ginger, this weather is perfect. Always look at the weather reports before leaving the house, cover yourself in factor 50 if you need to.
The crew of Moshville Times carry the torch as I catch a little of Blood Red Shoes at the Electric Ballroom. Hearing good things about the Brighton rockers, but never having caught them, this time I’m present to hear this loud garage rock sound. They give the day another good addition with this exceptional invention from Chris McCormack and his crew who once again put on another successful all-day rock fest of sounds for many ears, a place for equality and diversity. Bands and fans here are like a nut, showing there’s a nut for every spanner and mine this year were The Kut and Sick Joy… until next year.