Camden Rocks 2016 - Camden, London
Camden Rocks is billed as "The rock’n’roll all dayer of the year", with over two hundred of the best new and established high energy guitar bands performing across twenty venues in Camden Town!
My day started at the Electric Ballroom, with an energetic lunchtime performance from parody Metal band - Evil Scarecrow, a set that included a body popping robot, an extravagant display of party poppers and a packed ballroom, dancing like crabs, all the way to the back of the Electric establishment!
My main reason for showing up at the venue was to watch a mid afternoon set from Punk veterans Penetration. The 70's group originally split at the end of the decade, reforming in 2001. I'd viewed a couple of shows from the reformed line up previously, but it had been a few years since we'd crossed paths.
The band released a new studio album entitled Resolution last year. I didn't warm to it initially, but had given it a few spins in the lead up to their Camden set, enjoying the collection more with each play, so was happy to hear live renditions of a few new tracks at the start of their performance, with old favourites unleashed as the show progressed.
It was the highlight of the day, with several stand out songs, including the band's legendary cover of Patti Smith's 'Free Money', Punk classic 'Don't Dictate' and my favourite song from Pauline and the boys - 'Danger Signs'.
Steampunk comedy combo The Men That Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing were the next band I encountered, over at Proud. I'd caught co vocalist Andrew O'Neill onstage with Amanda Palmer at Koko the night before, and at Amanda's Union Chapel show last year, so it was interesting to take in the musical side of the comedian.
I found their set very amusing, with the group winning over a horde of new fans in the capacity crowd, many who had arrived early, to the view the performance that followed, an onstage appearance from Mr Billy Bragg.
Billy's set had me scratching my head slightly, as he opened with a trio of Bob Dylan songs, leading me to wonder if the legendary singer had joined the ranks of 2016's fallen musicians that day, and I just hadn't caught the news flash!
I think a Simon And Garfunkel track was up next, though I'm not a 100% certain, as I was making my way out of the venue. I'm sure Billy would have treated the crowd to his own material, like 'A New England' and possibly 'Sexuality' by the time the set ended, but I was on my way to venue number three - The Cuban.
Viewing the bands you want to see at multi venue festivals can be a struggle sometimes, with clubs reaching capacity fast, and you left out in the cold. With this in mind, I'd decided to camp out at The Cuban for the night. There were a few acts elsewhere that I wouldn't have minded seeing, but the venue offered a great selection of bands, starting with Starsha Lee.
The group were founded by vocalist Sofia de Oliveira Martins and ex-Queen Adreena/ Daisy Chainsaw guitarist Crispin Gray.
I'd noticed their name popping up on Facebook on a couple of occasions recently, so was curious to check them out, and was rewarded with a riotous in your face performance, featuring a slightly unhinged Sofia giving it her all! I'd certainly watch the band again, so I'll keep an eye out for future shows.
Deadcuts were next on the bill. The band fronted by former Senseless Things vocalist Mark Keds had been on my radar for a while, as I was a Things fan back in the day, but I'd never got round to seeing them perform.
The band have recently had a line up change, bringing Things drummer Cass Browne into the fold, so it's a bonus for "Pop Kids" everywhere!
Deadcuts are way darker than the Senseless combo, with an aggressive Post punk sound. Their debut album Dark Is The Night was an impressive release, so it was a thrill to finally hear its tracks live.
As much as I'd enjoyed Deadcuts set, I was beginning to flag, possibly due to the roasting venue, or a couple of late night / early mornings!
I wasn't really looking forward to encountering Jim Jones And The Righteous Mind, the group that followed, so was pleasantly surprised when I came away thinking they were one of the best bands I'd seen all day!
Their "Heavy Lounge' sounds were just the thing to perk me up, with the band delivering a blistering set. They did suffer from intermittent sound problems, but it just seemed to push them more, setting things up nicely for my final show of the night, from The Godfathers.
I'm not sure if I've ever seen the band live before. I may have, but if so it's been two or three decades since our paths have crossed! I do know I was a big fan of the group's Hit By Hit album in the 80's anyway, and dipped into the ones that followed.
The South London group had brought a rowdy selection of fans with them to the intimate venue, one of the smallest they must have played in recent years, leading to an extremely boisterous mosh pit down the front, with chaos ensuing while menacing mainman Peter Coyne led his band through the best of their back catalogue.
Songs like 'I Want Everything' and 'This Damn Nation' were storming live, with the icing on the cake set closer 'Birth, School, Work, Death' sending the hot and sweaty crowd home with a smile on their faces!
The Men That Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing
Jim Jones And The Righteous Mind