In the last few years we have always considered Camden Rocks Festival as our official kick off for the crux of the festival season. Every single year they deliver an absolutely massive line up with bands from across the musical spectrum, whether you’re in to Metal, Rock, Punk, Indie or Dance there will be something for you on the Camden Rocks line up. And for such a cheap price? There isn’t a festival offering better value. Of course our focus was on the heavier side of the spectrum where we caught some of the most exciting live bands on the circuit at the moment.
We kicked off our day heading down for The Barfly to check out a band who are beginning to build a really intense following. Counting Days (9/13) are a Hardcore band made up of former members of Architects, TRC and Heights among others so you know that right from the off they’re ready to deliver live. Well ‘ready’ might be a strong word with this particular show as transport issues meant they were not even in the venue at the time they were scheduled to be on stage, but once they did arrive (and after the quickest set up in history), the band absolutely slammed. The fact that they were late and having to play a bit of catch up added a bit more venom to their performance encouraging the first pit of the day across the width of the venue. Thomas Debaere on vocals did brilliantly to get the crowd going, especially with such an early set time. An excellently heavy set despite the circumstances.
Following on from this we headed back in to the nucleus of the festival and checked out The Algorithm (7/13) whose eclectic and at times overwhelming set actually became quite laborious to watch. The last time we checked these out was at a previous Camden Rocks festival where about twenty people turned up, this time round they had pretty much filled the floor in The Underworld so their popularity has obviously hit a spike. But whilst they had attracted a lot more people this time round, it’s worth noting that a fair few did end up shuffling back towards the bar before the set was over. Their actual sound was spectacular with each riff on top of the mad electronic vibes sounding absolutely huge but there was just something missing.
With a short walk over to The Black Heart, we checked out the Brighton based duo The Hyena Kill (9/13) play to a packed out venue full of Grunge influenced riff-heavy tracks which certainly had heads bouncing around across the floor. As a venue, unless you’ve squeezed yourself in to the front couple of rows, you’ve pretty much got no chance of seeing anything unless you’re very tall, so it’s important that you don’t lost the interest of those at the back. The Hyena Kill didn’t just maintain that interest, they had people swarming up the stairs from the bar to check out what on earth was going on. A really top band who have just released their debut album Atomised. Well worth checking out.
Next up we checked out the first of two, yep TWO, Heck (11/13) shows at The Underworld. In the interest of sticking to this chronologically we’ll go in depth on the band’s second show later in the review, but for this first one, as ever, both the venue and the crowd didn’t know what had hit them by the time the set had reached its conclusion. Focussing most of their set around the new album, the band absolutely tore through each track with such a venomous pace it was brilliantly difficult to comprehend what the hell was happening. As ever the band ended up in the crowd more than on stage with tracks performed both in your face, on top of banisters and even upside down on that damn pole. The greatest thing about their live shows, and why they’re something you’ll find yourself not being able to stop talking about afterwards, is the fact that everything just feels utterly spontaneous. You look at one of the band members at the right moment, you’ll see that glint of opportunity go across their eyes as they realise that’d probably be quite good fun to go get up close and personal with the fans up by the mixing desk. It doesn’t feel contrived or staged, this is just a band that has the soul of Punk flowing in their veins and they’re not afraid to show it.
After a bit of a breather, we headed back to The Black Heart to check out the Heavy Punk unit from Bristol known simply as The St. Pierre Snake Invasion (11/13). This is a band who have been on our radar for some time now, and we highly recommend checking out their record A Hundred Years A Day, but live they take on a whole new level. At this show in particular the band sounded incredibly tight and heavy, whilst vocalist Damien Sayell injected the show with a great level of humour and banter between songs. This is a genuinely exciting band who have a very bright future if they keep up this kind of form.
Sticking with this venue, next up were another old favourite of ours at Room Thirteen. The Hell (12/13) have successfully moulded this unique, humorous, take on Hardcore music and, probably beyond their own expectations have been able to keep it going for several years now. The fact is, as a live unit, this is a band made up of some very talented musicians, and they know how to incite chaos at the snap of their fingers. To say the venue was absolutely heaving as well would be an understatement with the heat levels in there causing the walls to sweat by the end of the second track. The band smashed through a set in which every single song was greeted with the same level of absolute bedlam from the crowd for forty minutes straight. Say what you want about this band, and whether you like them or not they’re unlikely to give a shit, the fact is they deliver an incredibly fun live experience which is more than can be said for most of the bands they’re openly taking the piss out of.
”Shout out to The Monarch for letting us do this again, we have a different band name now, they probably didn’t realise”. The last time Heck (12/13) played at The Monarch it was one of the most chaotic shows we’ve ever experienced so when it was announced that they’d be playing a second show this year in the same pub, eyebrows were certainly raised and anticipation built as to what exactly they were going to do to even come close to rivalling that particular performance. Well as you’ve already read, the band tore through a set earlier on at The Underworld, one we’d barely recovered from before this, and they upped their game even more at The Monarch. Right from the start we had them running across the bar and in the crowd with scenes of sheer bedlam right from the off. The reason this set was that bit more special than the previous was the fact that as a set closer they played that three part, fifteen minute, epic which closes out the new album Instructions. It’s the best piece of music this band have ever produced so to have the opportunity to watch them play through it all in the confines of such a small venue was genuinely an absolute treat. Brilliant band whose eclectic live performances are showing absolutely no signs of losing their dangerous, vicious, edge.
To conclude our day at Camden Rocks Festival we caught the headliners at The Underworld in a show which ended up being extra special as it was confirmed not too long before the festival that this show would be the last with vocalist Justin Hill. Sikth (11/13) are one of the most important bands in heavy music, and it’s been great that since their reunion they’ve built up a whole new core of fans. The Underworld was absolutely heaving, with queues outside even after the band had hit the stage. The actual set itself sounded absolutely brilliant, as new and old songs sounded equally thunderous, causing a lot of people to go absolutely batshit towards the front of the crowd. The show ended with a touching goodbye to Hill who has decided to leave the band to pursue other ventures as well as the announcement that we can expect some new material early next year - we cannot wait to hear it.