REVIEW: CAMDEN ROCKS
Saturday 2nd of June. The sun blazed over flocks of around 8000 festival-goers who had travelled to the Post Punk stamping ground of Camden: London’s most notorious and thriving hub for live music performances of all genres. The completely sold out Camden Rocks Festival 2018 was highly anticipated and founded by club promoter and Three Colours Red guitarist Chris McCormack. This year, McCormack joined the stage at the Electric Ballroom alongside ex-Sex Pistols band The Professionals. Major headline names included none other than John Lydon – aka Johnny Rotten and his band Public Image Ltd, aforementioned The Professionals and Maxïmo Park. Appearances also included Twin Atlantic, Blood Red Shoes and Mallory Knox to name a few out of the 200 bands playing the 20-venue all day festival. You’ll also catch a number of emerging indie bands at Camden Rocks– a really refreshing way to support new faces and explore some of Camden’s most cutting-edge venues.
Noon: Bands are beginning to set up and kick off the music marathon. 200 artists have been selected from a colossal 5000 applicants. The unmistakably striking haunt between Mornington Crescent and Chalk Farm was teeming with fans and followers, hungry for new noise. The air was heaving with anticipation: the markets were buzzing; low hums of tattoo machines rang down the high-street; vendors clad in metallic studs, plaid and bright Mohawks enticed newcomers into their parlours.
Findlay is an English artist from Stockport who performed with her band at Fest in the early afternoon. Fest is a little club that overlooks the Stables, with a picturesque terrace and venue for bands to play. Findlay arrived on stage at around 2pm, underneath a ceiling adorned with surf boards. Stage lights gleamed off the waxy surfaces and a disco ball glittering in the centre. In front of them, a swaying audience were mesmerised with every second of the performance. The lead vocalist, Natalie Rose Findlay has been writing her own songs since she was just fifteen years old. The crowd’s favourite was by far was ‘Greasy Love’ then followed by ‘Electric Bones’, which is the first song appearing on their most recent album: Forgotten Pleasures. ‘Electric Bones’ has a feisty, punchy beat. Natalie’s powerful vocals and catchy lyrics make it impossible to stand still.
Mid-Afternoon: One of the most memorable moments at The Monarch was the set of The Skinner Brothers. Frontman Zach, dove into the audience which responded by erupting with hysteria as he clambered onto the bar of The Monarch during their unruly rendition of their song ‘Chelsea Boy’. The Skinner Brothers have a notorious reputation of fiery performances, despite appearing in just handful of gigs since forming in 2017. This includes supporting The Libertines most recent seaside tour Tiddeley Om Pom Pom. The Skinner Brothers hail from Hampshire and played allguns blazing at the packed-out Monarch on Chalk Farm Road on Saturday in the hot afternoon haze. A thundering performance of the seamlessly slick sound and style of ‘Watchu’, the newly released EP kept the heaving crowd captivated with the blunt, honest rapping and cool guitar riffs.
Dusk: Blood Red Shoes attracted quite an audience in the Electric Ballroom, where they came on stage at around 6pm. Laura-May Carter and Steven Ansell are a duo from Brighton and have been creating music for over a decade with four albums. Blood Red Shoes have also released a new song called ‘God Complex’ late last April, which was very well received by the audience of faithful fans who sang along to the powerful tune. There is something excitingly dark about the new single ‘God Complex’. It was an enigmatic and brooding performance, and an enticing insight into their next forthcoming album, since the last release of the self-titled Blood Red Shoes in 2013.
Nightfall: Arguably the most potent performances of Camden Rocks were that of the legendary Public Image Limited at the Electric Ballroom, which is celebrating 40 years of being in service. One of the largest venues in Camden with a capacity of 1,100 people. The venue was packed with hundreds of people from all ages who had come to support one of the most iconic bands in British history. The crowds were entranced by the presence of John Lydon, who gave an ardent performance of one of their most famous songs: ‘Rise’. Throngs of people were entirely immersed by the spirited stage set PiL gave. Lydon made many people smile with his witty personality, especially with his determination to break the venues curfew. Public Image Ltd are celebrating a 40 year-long anniversary since 1978, with the nearly sold out tour The Public Image is Rotten. One of the most important highlights of the festival was the moment such an influential band played at a special venue in the heart of Camden with both anniversaries coinciding this year. Camden Rocks 2018 is no doubt one of the most memorable festivals of the year.
One of the last bands playing in the final slot of Camden Rocks before the after party was Freeze The Atlantic, in the upstairs room of the Black Heart. Brooding and esoteric, The Black Heart is a secretive venue tucked away from Camden high street. The band’s set took place in an almost-cave-like alcove in the back, piled up with people moshing to the melodic drums and zealous guitar riffs. Freeze the Atlantic have been together for ten years, and this performance underlined that they were still going strong. As the carnival-esque vibes of the day descended into the night, the atmosphere shifted to the next phase of partying. After a day of moshing in the sunshine, the darkness was welcomed and signalled time for the afterparty. Preparation for the Camden Rocks After Shows began. One of which was the most popular being the DJ set Carl Barat. You may know him as one of the co-frontmen from The Libertines- so you can imagine that he pulled quite a crowd to his slot behind the decks of Koko.
Overall, a brilliant showcase of the independent talent Britain has to offer- from the performers to the venues. We cannot wait for next year’s to start.
My twitter: @laurenrubycole