A sunny day in Camden Town, a few friends, more than a few beers and some rocking good bands. I had a blast at Camden Rocks Festival this year, although I only got to see seven bands, due to so many clashes and a late arrival back from the Sheffield Heaven’s Basement gig the night before. Anyway, here’s my mini review of the day. Enjoy!
The first band of the day was Damn Dice (8.5/10), a native hard rock outfit who were all dressed in black leather, with more hair and eyeliner than I’ve seen on stage for a long while. They kicked off with some riff laden, scissor-kicking mayhem, as they hammered their way through a convincing set, including the soundtrack to new video ‘Driven’. With harmonics and headbanging aplenty, I thought their set was pretty good; this is a band on the up, with their debut album “The Great Unknown” hitting the airwaves on 24th August. Watch out for them in future (and keep your eyes peeled for my interview with the band and my review of the album!).
Damn Dice on stage at the Camden Barfly
A swift trot over to the Stables and The Cuban meant it was time for the eagerly anticipated set from London hard rockers New Device (7.5/10). Dressed in vests, with tattoos and biceps on display in equal measure, New Device gave a credible set, however for some reason they didn’t fully hold my attention and it all sounded a bit … generic. They did perform to a packed room, however and I’d like to see them again to make up my mind. I’m going to acquire a copy of their album “Takin’ Over London” next week …
New Device at The Cuban
I might get criticised for reviewing the next band, as it’s well known that they’re favourites of mine and perhaps I should have seen someone else instead, but Max Raptor (9/10) always give 110%, balls out, awesome energy to every single show and I couldn’t resist seeing them, as it’s been a while. I wished I was anywhere else but at the Barfly though;it was absolutely heaving and I could barely breathe, let alone see the stage. Wil and the guys looked lean, full of beans and more than up for a good show, kicking off with ‘The Great and The Good’. There were clearly a lot of Max Raptor fans in the room and the whole place went nuclear with the crowd singing along to all the lyrics. I was stuck at the back so I couldn’t get any decent pics, but with new song ‘Population’ thrown into the middle of the set, before the mayhem of ‘Obey The Whips’ and the pure genius of ‘England Breathes’, it was clear that the band were loving being on the stage as much as we were enjoying watching them. A mad set culminated in ‘The King Is Dead’, with a massive circle pit going on down the front. Never a disappointment, always mad, you’re seriously missing out if you haven’t seen this lot yet. Get on it!
A serious cool down was needed after that, so I headed to the Monarch to see The Wild Lies (9/10), a band that are full of old-fashioned strut and raunch, with a bang-on-trend sound. Clearly a lot of other people thought the same as the place was packed. A slick sound, coupled with 100% rock star appearance ensured that this lot went down a storm and I defy anyone not to want to rock out whilst listening to them. With a Download Festival appearance lined up next week and a new video out for ‘Asteroid Central’, The Wild Lies should be on anyone’s playlist; certainly they didn’t disappoint any of the assembled throng in the Monarch. Well worth a watch!
The Wild Lies at The Monarch
I couldn’t see Heaven’s Basement (9/10) and not review them;anyone who has followed my blog or Facebook page will know how fond I am of the Basement Boys. Turning their usual set on its head and kicking off with ‘Executioner’s Day’, Aaron, Sid, Rob and Chris flew through a disappointingly short set, with crowd pleasers such as ‘I Am Electric’, ‘Can’t Let Go’ and ‘Heartbreaking Son of a Bitch’. Sid did an admirable job of vocals with ‘Paranoia’ and Aaron couldn’t resist his trademark crowd surfing. With some serious pit action going on I was surprised they chose to slow things down with ‘Price We Pay’, never a favourite of mine, but they eased the crowd back to fever pitch and finished a cracking performance with a two song encore of ‘Welcome Home’ and absolute favourite ‘Fire Fire’, which had the whole place bouncing. This was my 15th HB gig and whilst I still adore them and their music, I think they need to crack on with album two and get some new material out in front of the fans. Having said that, I headed to the bar absolutely dripping with sweat, euphoric at having been part of yet another awesome, atmospheric gig. Roll on HBII and another tour …
Heaven’s Basement at The Underworld
I would love to tell you how amazing Skindred were, but by the time I came back from the loo, the crowd was packed tighter than a shopping centre on Boxing Day – I couldn’t get anywhere near them and the venue was getting ridiculously hot, so having caught a smashing rendition of ‘Kill The Power’, it was with regret that I headed back up to street level. Judging from the reaction of those people closest to me before I bailed, Skindred’s set was going to be another good one.
With a banging head and aching feet, I headed back to the Monarch for the last band of the day. Jett Black have been on my bucket list for a long time and whilst I couldn’t tell you what tracks they played, I know that they had an appreciative audience and sounded pretty awesome from where I was sitting (yes, sitting. I’m nearly forty, give me a break …). Again, another band that I would like to see play a full set, sober and bright eyed and bushy tailed, to give them full justice.
Bands I didn’t get to see, but heard people raving about were – Glamour Of The Kill, Fallen To Flux, Bullet For My Valentine, Buck and Evans, Buffalo Summer and Voodoo Vegas.
All in all, it was an immense day. I got to meet up with some friends, see some awesome musicians, spend time with The Boyfriend, sit in the sun and have a few beers. That’s all you can ask for on a beautiful day in Camden Town. Much kudos to the organisers and roll on Camden Rocks 2016.
All photos courtesy of Chris White