Camden Crawl is less of a music industry love-in & more of a music lovers mix-up

Camden Crawl 2012 review

published: Wed 9th May 2012

around Camden Crawl

Friday 4th to Sunday 6th May 2012
venues in Camden, London, NW1 0NE, England MAP
£57.50 early bird 2-day ticket; £62.50 early bird 3-day ticket
daily capacity: 10000
last updated: Mon 16th Apr 2012

What is more appropriate than starting a festival with a month of rain. Luckily for those with an aversion to mud, the Camden Crawl does not need trench foot adding to its warnings. With little all else on over the weekend - apart from an FA Cup final - it promises to be a good start to the festival season.

With more and more festivals in London, the Olympics and even the Queens Jubilee offering impressive concerts, the challenge to offer something different is needed to keep the edge. The mix of promoters, magazines and websites hosting various stages across Camden's venues give varied line-ups across the weekend.

Bo Ningen
The Red Bull Bedroom Jam stage is a favourite for the daytimes. Showcasing new talent and some surprises its a good place to start for the music. A leaning towards heavy metal was highlighted by a couple of mental Japanese bands. The east London based Bo Ningen mix acid-rock with noise eroding the boundaries of gender, vision, sound, and order. Traditional and modern Far Eastern music influences the vocal technique and sound amazingly attuned. Crossfaith, another Japanese group on the stage, give us some metal, drawing in a surprised crowd with their high energy performance. As an interesting note, Bo Ningen, chanting in Japanese from East London, while Crossfaith, singing in English from Japan, highlight massive cultural differences on art using similar techniques. BIGKids break up the distortion with a big slice of fun. Not taking themselves too seriously, they lighten the atmosphere instantly. Mr Hudson's latest offering are set to cheer up a few more festivals over the summer.

Hip Hop Shakespeare
Amongst the other daytime offerings is Hip Hop Shakespeare at the Jazz Cafe. Amongst this years mania for the bard, Akala and friends find their voice heard more than many other efforts from the cultural Olympiad. Their effort to fit iambic pentameter into hip hop, or the other way round, shows through in the participation and creativity of young singers. Another lovely surprise during the day is Mammoth Sound. This teenage six-pieces bands draws influence from East London with songs like, Whitechapel, blending their own fusion of musical styles – with hip-hop, jazz, and soul – shows rich possibilities for the next generation of musicians. If you feel inspired by what's on offer you can even join in with KaraUke. Ukuleles, karaoke, and drunken out-of-tune singing, its sometimes more fun doing it yourself than leaving it to the professionals on stage! Adding a more academic slant to the proceedings, Gemma Angel's talk on tattoo's gives a glimpse on the myth of tattoo, crime, sex, faith, and self-esteem.

And So I Watch You From Afar
The night time is where the confusion begins. The inevitable clashes do not seem as drastic as previous years and the complete lack of queues left you wondering where everyone was? Missing something spectacular, or just a lack of people? With plenty of room in most venues too, it was even easy to get drinks without being stuck for a long time. And So I Watch You From Afar played their headline slot to a barely half full Electric Ballroom made me wonder whether nearly everyone was squished into Koko for The Cribs. Going on the crush the night before for The Futureheads, it was certainly likely. Despite this, ASIWYFA dazzled the people that were there with a frantic set. Sadly, what I saw of the Futureheads acoustic barbershop styled offering didn't excite me, despite their obvious talent, which was not lost on the couple of thousand people singing along excitedly.

Francois And The Atlas Mountains
Seeing something new was my aim for the festival and that meant a bit of running, some half sets and a little disappointment. On the other hand, there were a few bands that were truly exciting. Francois & The Atlas Mountains, described as Chanson Pop, were fantastic. Their tagline genre doesn't really do them justice and I'm not sure whether the warmth and careful production of the music would lend itself to CD. Trying to squeeze all their kit into the Abbey Tavern didn't leave much room for people and some odd stylised synchronised movements were puzzling. The cosy intimate environment lent itself perfectly to Team Me who followed them. Big hearts, big sounds and big choruses make these guys and girl one of those bands that I can't miss.

The Camden Crawl has changed massively over the last few years, going from sell-out shows at the Roundhouse with excruciating queues to a surprisingly quiet, intimate feeling this year. Given the idea is to focus attention on new talent this seems to be the right direction - Less of a music industry love-in and more of a music lovers mixup.
review by: Chris Mathews

photos by: Chris Mathews

Friday 4th to Sunday 6th May 2012
venues in Camden, London, NW1 0NE, England MAP
£57.50 early bird 2-day ticket; £62.50 early bird 3-day ticket
daily capacity: 10000
last updated: Mon 16th Apr 2012


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