Calvin Harris and Pendulum provide an epic finish to day one of Camdem Crawl

Camden Crawl 2010 review

published: Fri 7th May 2010


Saturday 1st to Sunday 2nd May 2010
venues in Camden, London, NW1 0NE, England MAP
2-day pass £57, day tickets £35.50
last updated: Thu 22nd Apr 2010

Given that the Camden Crawl is a) right on my doorstep and b) right by my birthday, I'm quite surprised that I've never got around to going before. Despite adverse weather reports, Saturday dawned sunny and warm, so I headed down to Camden around midday anticipating a good weekend.

Chris amused me by stating straight off that he'd be plugged into his twitter feed all weekend, but it paid off almost immediately with us catching a Slow Club acoustic set at the Camden Eye. Chilled out guitar sound with lovely melodious lyrics, it was a great start to the festival and definitely a band I'll be keeping an eye out for over the summer.

From there we headed to the Red Bull Bedroom Jam stage for Kasms. New to the Crawl this year, Red Bull had taken over Hawley Crescent (the street just outside the MTV offices) with a large stage, DJ booth (well, DJ land rover) outdoor bar and a couple of food venues. There was a great atmosphere and it definitely helped lend a festival vibe to the weekend – something that I often find wanting at indoor, multi-venue festivals.

Possibly a little early still for Friday night revellers, the crowd at this point tended towards early-teenage, leaping around and generally having one hell of a good time. Due to late arrivals, they were running behind schedule and instead of Kasms, DissolvedIn took to the stage. An emo-slash-indie-slash-rock band from Reading, I have to say they weren't entirely my thing, but they really rocked their set, despite the crowd being fairly thin on the ground at this point, and I really did enjoy watching them. 'Emily' stood out as a particular highlight.

Following on from DissolvedIn came Kasms. They put on a blinder of a set, with Rachel Mary Callaghan bouncing all over the stage, challenging the audience to respond. The reception was good if a little lacklustre – I imagine their later gig at Purple Turtle was better attended and enjoyed, but there was definitely something about seeing them in the open air, with a big enough stage for their antics (Rachel standing on speaker stacks) that would have been lost in a pub. If any band is eminently suited to a festival, it's Kasms.

Checking back in on the #camdencrawl hash tag, most tweets at this stage seemed to be about the size of the ticket collection queue, so we wandered up to the Roundhouse to have a look. It really was immense, stretching all the way past Morrisons' petrol station, under the bridge and around the corner. The festival has traditionally been a Friday/Saturday affair, and switching to Saturday/Sunday may have meant an unexpected rise in the number of people picking up tickets during the day, but even so a queue that size made them look fairly unprepared, and a lot of people were coming away (having finally picked up their wristbands) complaining they'd missed sets they really wanted to catch.

around the festival site (KariUke)
Having spotted a group of people earlier in the day who seemed to be dressed very much like Where's Wally, it was back on Twitter to find out where they were – we successfully found about 10 of them getting some food in the Lock marketplace. Quite apart from making it easier to find each other in the crowd, coming to a festival dressed in such a way was a stroke of genius, especially as they'd even put in enough thought to bring a spare hat for people wanting to have their photo taken with the group.

They told us they were heading to the Buck's Head for Karauke the opportunity seemed too good to miss, so we followed them – not a hard feat even amongst the heaving streets of Camden. I have to say that Karauke was possibly the best fun I had all weekend. Karaoke with a Ukulele backing band, it's a wonderful concept – especially as their repertoire consists almost entirely of total crowd pleasers - and the Buck's Head was absolutely rammed. 'Crocodile Rock', 'Wild Rover', 'Mustang Sally' and 'Teenage Kicks' were all on the line-up while we were there, and the event was more a group sing-along than a karaoke session. By the time the Wallys took to the stage, they'd been in the pub long enough for everyone to get a good look, so the reception was wild, and their (excellent) rendition of 'Sweet Child Of Mine' really brought the house down.

At this point the heat in the pub was intense, and we beat a grateful retreat outside – just in time for the rain… Before the evening kicked off properly I was quite keen to see the Poster Roast exhibition, so we made a quick trip to Black Heart. The posters were impressive, and there was live screen-printing going on which was fairly cool, but I think it may have packed more of a punch if a little more thought had gone into it. Entering the pub, the first thing you see is the sales stall – proudly claiming to be selling the posters cheaper than someone else (I forget who). Discovering the actual exhibition was upstairs wasn't too easy, and when we got there most of the posters were clustered around the bar, which made it quite hard to view them properly what with, you know, all the people drinking at the bar. I imagine the atmosphere was better when there were bands playing, but it was a shame to see such a great idea fall a little flat.

By now the rain was really coming down, and it didn't take much to arrive at the decision that staying in one venue for the evening was probably the best plan. Somehow, this ended up with us arriving at the Roundhouse just in time for the Sugababes. No, I'm not entirely sure how that happened either.

Their set was…ok, I guess, if you like that sort of thing. The crowd seemed to. I didn't. They covered 'Rabbit Heart' by Florence and the Machine, which seemed a bit too much like a nod-of-the-head to the fact that they were playing an 'indie' festival, but they didn't bring anything to the song.

Watching them was a weird experience. The set was so album perfect that I may as well have been listening to the CD and I'm afraid I didn't get any buzz from the fact that they were right in front of me. Now I'm not going to be all cool and pretend that I've never sung along to a Sugababes song in a drunken stupor at some Students' Union, but that's pretty much the start and end of my involvement with them, and seeing them live did nothing for me. I have to admit to being quite pleased that their set was cut short due to them starting late.

Anyway, enough of that. Time for Calvin Harris.

Calvin Harris
The amount of stuff brought on for his set was quite immense, and I started to get quite excited. Only really knowing 'Acceptable In The 80s' I was quite intrigued as to what his set would be like, especially after seeing some of the equipment appearing on the stage.

Calvin Harris proved to be the perfect antidote to lip-synched, saccharine pop. Working the crowd like a master, he built us up, broke us down and took us back up again. What started as a hardcore circle of people going for it in the middle of the dance floor spread further and further towards the edge until there was no edge, just a room full of people with their hands in the air. By the time 'Acceptable In The 80s' came on, the word 'frenzy' was probably appropriate, and things just got better from there. A truly immense set.

The Roundhouse appeared to have a different ticketing system to the rest of the festival, something I hadn't realised until we all got kicked out following Calvin Harris' set. In the pouring rain. Not wanting to hang around waiting for them to let us back in, not being all that interested in Plan B anyway and not seeing anything in easy sprinting distance that would have kept me occupied until Pendulum (especially in the same state of euphoria as I was at that point) I decided to cut my losses and end the night on a high, heading home with the strains of Calvin Harris' epic finisher still ringing in my ears.

review by: Hannah Morgan

photos by: Chris Mathews

Saturday 1st to Sunday 2nd May 2010
venues in Camden, London, NW1 0NE, England MAP
2-day pass £57, day tickets £35.50
last updated: Thu 22nd Apr 2010

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