Festival Review: Camden Rocks 2019

~ Camden Rocks ~

It’s the weekend in Camden, the London Borough steeped in musical history. Such folklore ranges from Madness’ Dublin Castle residency, to Blur vs Oasis starting in the Good Mixer, and even to Wolf Alice celebrating their Mercury in the Hawley Arms. During the first weekend of June though, these venues form a bigger whole – Camden Rocks.

Across 20 stages, 400 bands find themselves on the lineup, meaning choice is abundant. The punters, mixed with the tourists enjoying the almost 30 degrees temperatures, makes for a bustling scene down Camden’s High Street. Although this sounds like fun, the resulting slow journey from stage to stage certainly tests everyone’s patience. Yet, a few beers down and no one really minds, particularly given that it always seems worth it.

Unlike other festivals, Camden Rocks benefits from the vast amount of food on offer in the market, beating the usual greasy and overpriced burger. Not only that, but the locally-brewed Camden Hells provides for the perfect way to stay refreshed throughout the weekend.

Of course, it would be impossible to review every band here, but the top picks include…

~ Carl Barât ~

The Libertines frontman Carl Barât brought all the indie charm to Dingwalls, playing a career best-of,  spanning The Libertines, Dirty Pretty Things and his recent work with The Jackals. All were met with a huge reaction from the crowd, causing security to try and calm events down, although this was, of course, unsuccessful.

~ Rat Boy ~

Clearly fed up of a quiet crowd, singer Jordan Cardy AKA Rat Boy promised the crowd a crate of Red Stripe in return for some movement. Within minutes this all ended up on the floor, creating a dangerous but hugely entertaining situation for the now lively onlookers.

~ The Pigeon Detectives ~

This Leeds outfit could have easily been forgotten and left behind as indie landfill, but through hard work The Pigeon Detectives have managed to maintain their relevance. It’s clear from the absolute energy on the stage that they still mean business.

~ Young Garbo ~

Young Garbo recently signed to Creation 23, Alan McGee’s new label. It’s easy to see why McGee was attracted, with the band having all the groove of Primal Scream mixed with the swagger of a young Gallagher.

~ Luna Bay ~

Luna Bay are four upcoming lads who are making all the right noises. Their headline show at Scala in November while still unsigned is impressive, but well deserved given their ability to write quality summer-vibed tunes.

~ Seán McGowan ~

Socially-conscious storytelling at its finest was provided by Seán McGowan. All delivered with a raw voice and a sense of honesty – something that is too often hard to find in the current musical landscape.

The fact that this is not even 2% of the bands at Camden Rocks highlights the broad choice of who to see and where. Whoever was seen though, and wherever it was, quality could be near-enough guaranteed – a testament to those that selected the bands across the weekend.

(Review byJordan Rodwell)

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