Nadia Khomami

16:36 3rd May 2011

Day two, and someone informs us that TV sensation Chuck Bass was at the Wheelbarrow last night, watching newly crowned Camden monarchs, the Tribes. I am devastated and curse Tony Morly, but quickly pull myself together with a Sunday Afternoon cider. Camden High Street is a warpath, and we wonder if the Agitator had anything to do with it. Plastic bottles and paper glasses align the gutters, there is a lost trainer outside the Oxford Arms, the ticket touts outside the station look drunk, and a cold breeze blows my hat away.

Gigwise heads to the packed out Redbull stage where one of the most hyped bands of the weekend, Odd Future, are scheduled to perform. “It’s the ultimate hipster thing really, seeing this band,” a blogging luminary tells us, and we wonder what we’ve gotten ourselves into. But between the band threatening photographers, Hodgy Beats climbing a speaker stack and jumping a good 10 feet or more into the crowd (that wasn’t me screaming), and the riotous stage invasion at the end, we feel it’s safe to say that Tyler the Creator and the various members of his accompanying collective exceeded all expectations. With their unique raps and abstract beats, the hybrid ensemble have landed on their feet without breaking any necks, despite the stuffed toy bear hanging by its neck from a nearby flat. Definitely a highlight.

When we pass the Ray-Ban double decker bus parked on the Kentish Town Road, we’re more than intrigued. Squeezing into the bottom floor with a jammy pair of free sunglasses, we watch a secret, albeit short set from new band, Spector. An easy, pop-folky acoustic band, full of strong vocals and the odd literary reference, particularly on harmonic song, ‘Friday Night.’  They remind us a lot of Hurts, both in sound and attire, which is why we’re not surprised when word spreads that they’re supporting the band at Somerset House this summer.  We’re glad we’ve found these guys, they’re not one to be missed.

London-based rapper Giggs, aka Nathaniel Thompson at the Electric Ballroom, is a completely different type of affair.  Entertaining to watch, if not for his controversial past, then for the crowds rather uncommon reaction.  We follow this same crowd toward Koko to catch Lethal Bizzle, where amidst the group of topless, shouting excitables, we feel we’ve finally hit the “geezer trail.”

Koko really is a beautiful venue, and the former theatre is tonight host to endless ‘bouncing’.  When the entertaining and interactive Lethal Bizzle covers House of Pain’s ‘Jump Around,’ or launches into street-anthem ‘Pow’, the formidable excitement of the audience is absorbing.  

Rushing back to the Forum, we witness a breathtaking and career-spanning performance from the Guillemots. When Fyfe Dangerfield howls over his keyboard, or Aristazabal Hawkes strikes at her double bass in a move more haunting than relaxing, I’m sure every member of the skinny-jeaned, toe-tapping audience gets goosebumps like we do. We hang around for “indie-pop royalty” The Lemonheads, but halfway through their second song, regard the title to be misattributed. The grunge-influenced American band, who after a hiatus have arrived back on the live radar felt just a tad dated.

Meanwhilst, outside the Electric Ballroom, all hell is being let loose. Razorlight are supposed to be playing at the official afterparty, but after a blunder on the part of security, half the press are left shivering outside, firmly told that the venue has reached capacity.  We cut our losses and head home, deciding that were Johnny Borrell worth the bother, we’d have sneaked in through the back.  If there was a back, of course. Not that we tried.

Exhausted and hungry, it’s easy to criticise the Camden Crawl for its at times inconvenient organisation, but never for its spontaneity. Street based, it is a relative, accessible way to encounter the actuality of local music scenes. Full of an amiable and appreciated intimacy unseen at the bigger festivals, it makes us anticipate next year’s madness with an eager excitement. 

Camden Crawl - 2011

  • Razorlight (photo by Milly Colley)

  • Miles Kane (photo by Milly Colley)

  • Guillemots (photo by Milly Colley)

  • The King Blues (photo by Al Overdrive)

  • Beth Jeans Houghton (photo by Peter Maxwell)

  • Cerebral Ballzy (photo by Peter Maxwell)

  • Martyna Baker (photo by Peter Maxwell)

  • Odd Future (photo by Peter Maxwell)

  • Rise To Remain (photo by Peter Maxwell)

  • Sound Of Rum (photo by Peter Maxwell)

  • Tek One (photo by Peter Maxwell)

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