I’ve been living in London for over a decade. In that time I’ve attended four SXSW’s in Texas, Brighton’s Great Escape and Reykjavík’s Iceland Airwaves but I’d never taken to the streets of Camden for their yearly Camden Crawl.
I’d read about previous years and hadn’t been too keen as people seemed to struggle to get into events as the venues were way too small for the amount of people trying to gain admission. I figured that if I kept it to just a couple of venues a night, giving myself a bit of time to stand in line i’d be okay so I exited Chalk Farm’s Underground station, anticipating the evening’s events.
Although the Crawl’s website lets you know which bands are playing over the weekend they keep running orders and venues under wraps until you pick up your wristband on the day. I’m not a fan of this method, especially as the daily MTV shows at the Roundhouse featuring big name bands were split into two separate early evening and 9pm events.
Although this allowed as many fans into the venue as possible, as separate wristbands only allowed access to one of the two shows it also meant people may have missed headliner Yeah Yeah Yeah’s due to their onstage appearance at 7pm, a starting time fans may not have accounted for, especially if they were coming to the Crawl from work.
There were plenty of people who had arrived early enough to know the score mind you, with the line for the YYY’s stretching around the block. After a lengthy wait I made it into the venue just in time to see support band The Virgins.
Wearing a bare chest / bow tie combination last seen on Frank Butcher and with a set of teeth that would give Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan a run for his money lead singer Donald Cumming led his band through tracks from their self titled debut album, starting with crowd favourite “Teen lovers”.
I lost interest in the New Yorkers pretty quickly as I felt they peaked too soon, their Strokes style US Indie with a hint of Funk doing nothing for me. The band finished with a hideous version of Squeeze’s “Up the junction”, even worse than the one The View roll out every so often!
The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s were a far more entertaining prospect, with the crowd lapping up every second of Karen O’s appearance. Karen and the boys set was taken from all points of their career, with early track “Art star” showing up three songs in.
The crowd’s adoration for the band was evident throughout the set but singles “Gold Lion” and current release “Zero” seemed to get an even bigger reaction from the Roundhouse fans.
After the excitement of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs set I wanted to continue my evening with upbeat music ,rather than the darker doom and gloom side of things that some of the venues were offering.
With this in mind I headed over to the Cuban Bar as the website Popjustice were hosting a showcase at the venue.
The first act I caught on the bill were girl duo Mini Viva. The girls are currently working with Xenomania so look set to release some quality Pop in the near future.
Their Crawl showcase seemed to be one of their first gigs, with Britt and Frankee showing off their dance routines to an audience that smiled their way throughout the duo’s set. I thought the whole thing was great fun, a tiny bit cheap and cheerful but that may have been the bar setting rather than what was happening onstage.
I hope Mini Viva’s management dont smooth out their rough edges too much as the girls are highly entertaining as they are. I’ll be keeping an eye on what they’re up to in the future anyway.
Next up was VV Brown. I was looking forward to her set as a couple of friends had seen her live recently and had highly praised her performance. With only a couple of singles under her belt the majority of VV’s feisty retro Pop output was unknown to me.
This didn’t my spoil my enjoyment though as she played a blinding set, leaving me eager for more. Obviously her most recent single “Leave” was a gig highlight alongside a singalong version of debut “Crying blood’, with VV slowly leading us through the choruses while climbing on the furniture to reach the punters at the back.
My final set of the night came from Marina And The Diamonds. Marina was also someone I’d been wanting to see for a while as i’d been coming across her name on numerous websites and blogs I frequent.
Dressed in a slightly exotic gold stage costume Marina delivered a fairly theatrical performance, vocally reminiscent of the likes of Tori Amos and Kate Bush. But the act that strangely popped into my head most while watching Marina’s set was 80’s Icon Toyah, especially when Marina performed future single “I am not a robot”, complete with the odd jerky robot movement!
I had a great time watching Marina’s set, appreciating all the songs on offer, including her exquisite cover of Gwen Stefani’s “what you waiting for”. I’ve noticed Marina’s name on a few Festival line ups so hopefully our paths will cross fairly soon again.
My first day at the Camden Crawl ended up a resounding success, especially due to the bill Popjustice put together. There’s no doubt that finding a venue with acts you’re curious about that are playing all evening seemed the way to go.