FestivalsLive Reviews

FESTIVAL REVIEW: Camden Rocks Festival, 04/06/2016

As thousands of darkly-dressed music fans descend upon Camden town, we join the masses to discover what fresh talent Camden Rocks Festival has to offer. Read below for our thoughts on just on a handful of the performances from the day… speaking of which, can someone invent a time machine already so that we can be at three stages at once?

Zoax spare no time before instantly launching into their set at The Underworld as frontman Adam Carroll employs his own weird brand of theatrics, grimacing and glaring at audience members in an unnerving fashion. The turn out is good but it’s a small stage for such an energetic band, which inevitably means Carroll is soon amongst the crowd, singing and screaming in people’s faces and generally being silly. Despite it still being early in the day, audience participation is strong with sing-alongs and clapping on demand, although the sound is just that little bit too loud, causing a crackling vocal during the more ferocious parts. Things take a turn for the heartfelt with slow number Wave, proving that the five-piece have more to offer than fast-paced, swaggering rock songs. 7/10

As we enter the sweatbox that is the upstairs room of The Black Heart and head towards the stage, we are actually surprised to discover just two people occupying it. Although small in number, The Hyena Kill more than make up for their lack of members in the noise department. Drummer Lorna Blundell thrashes her kit with an undeniable ferocity as her partner in crime Steven Dobb provides an impassioned vocal as well as the chugging, distorted riffs of the operation. Full-sounding, groove-laden rock ‘n’ roll noise emanates from the speakers with such a rhythm that nobody in attendance can stay still as both play with precision and power. It’s an impressive display that makes us understand why even a third member would merely be surplus to requirements. 10/10

From the outset, it’s clear that Fizzy Blood know what they’re doing, and let us tell you that what they’re doing is pretty fucking great. Addictive opener Queen of Hearts starts the set on a high that never falters, with songs that are as complex and theatrical as they are catchy. The Leeds five piece are completely in sync and the performance is rife with Northern Swagger and razor sharp choruses, which frontman Benji Inkley belts out with ease. The clean vocal occasionally enters screaming territory in a highly satisfying way, usually to indicate a heavy breakdown, which is a pleasure to watch (mostly thanks to the wild and often terrifying facial expressions of drummer Jake Greenway and bass player Ciaran Scanlon). A couple of teething problems arise when they attempt lesser-played songs, but it’s nothing that can’t be fixed with practice. January Sun closes the set with grooving guitars, an aggressive chorus, and a bittersweet opening line that is still reverberating around our skulls. 9/10

There are a lot of people squeezing themselves into Bloc Bar for Vukovi’s set today, a venue which doesn’t seem to have been designed with live music in mind. With poor visibility from the back of the room, we don’t have much to go on as the band rumble through a set that includes new single Animal (which goes down a treat) and an unusual choice of cover – The 1975’s Love Me. It’s an interesting rendition, heavier (of course), and it seems like the band are having fun doing it (from what we could tell through gaps between people’s heads). However, the majority of the set seems, if anything, a little lacklustre, and even forced. Maybe it’s just the venue letting the band down, or maybe they need stronger, attention-grabbing tracks, but by the end of the set we were glad to be out in the fresh air again. 6.5/10

Ginger Wildheart is a man who needs no introduction to the huge crowd that fills Proud Galleries. The songwriter and storyteller talks to the crowd throughout the set, a touch that, along with the fact that everyone is singing along, really helps to create a pleasant atmosphere on this balmy evening. The band leave the stage towards the end, allowing him to sing a solo rendition of If You Find Yourself In London Town, a ballad whose lyrics (“don’t expect any warmth from people or from places”) are proven wrong this evening. Ginger finishes the set with a full band for an acoustic but lively version of The WildheartsSuckerpunch, much to the delight of everyone present. 9/10

After Ginger’s set at Proud Galleries, plenty of fans stick around to discover what ex-Wildhearts bassist Danny McCormack will bring to the table with his new band The Main Grains. The Northern four piece begin with their single Unscrewed, which sets the pace for the rest of the set with classic-sounding punk rock riffs and a sing-along chorus. It’s a formula that serves them well, and those in attendance seem to agree, with heads nodding in approval as the band unleash further tracks from their debut album Don’t Believe Everything You Think, including I’d Rather Be In California and the high-energy She’s a Catch. Guitar solos are littered throughout, giving lead guitarist Ben Marsden the chance to showcase his shredding skills, and a cover of Teenage Kicks (which also features on the album) is a fitting hark back to the days when punk rock first established itself in the mainstream. It’s still early days yet for this band, but we look forward to seeing more of them in the future. 8/10

Press to MECO take to the stage at Bloc Bar to serenade us with their exquisite harmonies and a huge dose of South London charm (if there ever was such a thing). They dive straight in with opener Honestly, a song with a chorus that’s as addictive as anything they’ve written. The nature of the songs means stage time is split between saccharine melodies (including the aforementioned harmonising) and heavy breakdowns where they go all out. Guitarist and lead vocalist Luke Caley does most of the talking, and even introduces two of the die-hard fans at the front to each other, encouraging others to copy their wild dancing and jumping. The rest of the crowd oblige happily. We must say that for a band that consistently blow us away, the trio unfortunately don’t sound as good as we’ve heard them before, although that’s probably down to the venue – this is a band that have successfully played bigger stages, and are deserving of a sound quality that matches their undeniable musical prowess. It’s a shame that they’re not in one of the bigger capacity venues, but their performance is brilliant nonetheless. 8.5/10

Written by: Alice Hudson

Alice Hudson
Former fashion student interested in art, music and everything vintage. Drinker of tea. Self-confessed grammar nazi. Feminist.