Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Camden Crawl 2010 - Preview

Today, a new feature. Besides bringing reviews of all the music festivals we attend this year, we will also be previewing them and selecting five acts for your perusal. First up - Camden Crawl 2010.

Camden Crawl is now one of the many one-wristband-multi-venue-multi-gig events that have sprung up on the UK music calendar. The first was way back in 1995. Back then Camden was an obscene but strangely alluring indie mecca where markets sold cheap jackets, vintage clothes and fashionable junk. Not much has changed in that respect, except the word indie has now become obsolete - we now live in a world where Scouting For Girls are referred to as ‘commercial indie’ and wearing a check shirt and skinny jeans from Top Man appears to define you as ‘indie’.

Breaking More Waves attended its first Camden Crawl in 1996. Back then it was a one day, small scale event with just a handful of bands, limited number of venues, lack of corporate sponsorship and no queues. In 1997 the event expanded to become the Intercity Crawl, and a fifteen pound ticket gave access to six venues, a CD featuring all the bands playing and the pleasure of seeing groups such as The Warm Jets, Vitro and a fresh faced non-stadium indie rocking Snow Patrol. There were also corresponding events in Manchester and Glasgow. Our endearing memory of that year was of passing a gaggle of Kenickie members staggering down Parkway full of glitter and alcohol as well as watching a huge colossus of a man called Tiny from a band called Ultrasound play to a half empty Town & Country Club and being rather glorious.

After 1997 the Crawl laid dormant until resurrection in 2005. Now an annual two day event the bands that help move tickets are no longer alternative acts such as The Wedding Present, Bis, and Scarfo but the hugely commercial Sugababes, Calvin Harris and the Lost Prophets, the whole fracas being sponsored by Gaymers. It’s fair to say that whilst essentially Camden the place hasn’t changed significantly, the Camden Crawl very much has.

Last years crawl was heavily criticised by some reporters, particularly the NME’s Jamie Hodgson who wrote this scathing blog. Other reports we have received suggest that nobody really knew what was going on or where, The Guardian calling it “A riot of miscommunication.” It doesn’t help that one of the main photos on the Camden Crawl website shows punters queuing rather than actually watching and enjoying music. Not a good omen. Like some other multi-gig events in the UK it appears that the art with the Camden Crawl is first to be organised - be prepared to get to the venue for the band you want to see early, and second not to take the name too literally (and by that we don’t mean wear knee pads) instead limiting the amount of crawling you do by minimising your venue swapping. This then lowers the risk of potential queues and missing bands.

We’ll be returning to Camden for our first crawl in thirteen years and reporting back at the start of May. But for now here are five acts appearing at the event that get the Breaking More Waves seal of approval.

Samuel Chase

Samuel Chase first appeared on this blog (here) back in October, although then he was known as Samuel and the Dragon. The dragon has now flown, leaving one of our favourite singles of last year, the beautifully isolated Diamonds on a Boat as a haunting memento. Samuel now continues, with some incredibly soulful, sombre and atmospheric demos on his Myspace. Think of the slo-core melancholy of Japan and Portishead and you’ll be getting somewhere close. An album is due to follow later this year.

Clock Opera

Fresh from supporting Marina and The Diamonds earlier this year, and with one of the more low-key nominations in our Ones to Watch 2010 list, Clock Opera have still played less than twenty live shows. Yet their glorious mash up of home made samples and beats, chopped and repackaged to form crescendos of beauty has us very excited about the band. A new single A Piece Of String is due for release in June, the follow up to their debut White Noise. Lyrically the song explores the relationship between a ventriloquist and his dummy. Last July we said "We love Clock Opera more than our own children." That is because Clock Opera are creating music of the highest order.

Smoke Fairies

Hailing from Chichester, Smoke Fairies are the towns only musical exports of worth since Hope Of The States. They create smoke-laden, sultry, medieval folk-blues songs that sound as if they are from another time and place. Having recorded with Jack White the duo are set to support Laura Marling across the USA immediately after the Camden Crawl 2010.


How could we not mention Stornoway ? The finest band from Oxford since Radiohead, Brian Briggs and his merry men are another one of Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch 2010 and will be releasing their album Beachcombers Windowsill in May. Full of simple acoustic based songs and sung with a clear honesty, Beachombers Windowsill is the sound of stepping outside into a glorious spring day. They may be a little too ‘nice’ for some, but for others they will make hearts flutter.

Silver Columns

Silver Columns are Adem Ilhan and Johnny Lynch. Adem plays bass in post rock / electronic band Fridge whilst Johnny is also known as the Pictish Trail - a folky sounding singer songwriter type. Together as Silver Columns they produce pounding cool disco anthems such as the Breaking More Waves approved Brow Beaten and forthcoming single Cavalier. It’s one of those side projects that actually seems to be better than the mains. Serving it up - groovy.


Mistress Wanda said...

Thanks for the music tips offs - I'll try and check them out.

I went to the Crawl for the first time last year and really enjoyed it, but that's partly because I'm old and like to consume a lot of music but be home in bed by midnight! And honestly if you want badly organised festivals then the Crawl has nothing on Brighton's Great Escape.

However I can how if you went to one of the originals the corporate sponsorship would grate. I have been shopping in Camden itself since I was 15 and I think it has massively (and depressingly) changed with the high street sweeping in for a bit of the action. However if you're a 17 year old Spanish tourist without my bagage I can see how it must seem like the best place in the world.

Breaking More Waves Blog said...

Thanks Mistress Wanda this is interesting to know. Having been to every single Great Escape since the first one our thoughts are that overall it has been fairly well organised, so if you think Camden Crawl is better organised there is hope !