Camden Crawl, London – Various Venues 30/04-01/05/2011

May 8, 2011 by  

A decade ago, so I’m told, the Camden Crawl was born and took place over a measly five venues and within three years it had already sent itself on hiatus. It returned in 2005 and since then the ever growing festival has become the urban behemoth it is today, with over 50 venues playing host to mainly upcoming acts with the odd ‘big name’ propping up the bill.

Ten years on, the festival still remains the opener to the UK season and still places a strong emphasis on new music, but with the corporate sponsors there is a rumble coming from the curmudgeons missing their independent festival. But, despite the naysayers, the CC manages to please both the Haircut 100 crowd on a day trip down from Essex and the art school kids bussing it in from Bow.

For most of the big acts take up residency in the Kentish Town Forum, which isn’t actually in Camden, but without the use of The Roundhouse this year where else are they supposed to put Tinie Tempah? Thankfully, this allows the rest of the venues to fill their stages with the more progressive elements of today’s music scene.

While the kids were somehow enthralled by Frankie and The Heartstrings’ winkle pickers and crooning moves, it really couldn’t of been the music, we were allowed to saunter around Camden’s more obscure venues without having to fight our way through the usual crowds of punters that the crawl has become well known for.

Starting their set nearly half an hour late, Rainbow Arabia were perhaps the biggest disappointment of the weekend. As progressive as their sound is, it’s also very languid live and when you’ve waited that long it just doesn’t seem worth it. However, also supplying some glitchy sounds was Becoming Real. Despite just being one guy with a laptop his set in the Electric Ballroom had enough bass and heavy beats to keep the ground shaking and the punters moving.

As things picked up we made our way to catch Visions of Trees, but by this point many bottles of complimentary Gaymers had been sunk and like with Rainbow Arabia, their lack of immediacy can be off putting, especially when you’re doused in cider.

More suited to the festival vibe were Gallops and Star Slinger. We finished the first night in the Monarch watching Gallops frantic math-rock set. Having only heard an EP of theirs it was with great surprise and joy we watched their pulsing live show. On Sunday Star Slinger played our favourite DJ set of the weekend. Not only did he provide his usual beat heavy mash-ups, he also took to the mic as he bobbed behind the decks with his long locks shrouding his face, and regularly dropped his favourite sample ‘It’s motherfucking Star Slinger…Swag’.

Unfortunately due to some severe hangovers we missed Odd Future’s set on the Sunday, but apart from that 2011′s crawl was one of the best in years. With the Kentish Town Forum holding so many people, the streets of Camden were less crowded than usual and it really seemed like a schizophrenic bar crawl that allowed you to take in as many styles and genres of music you wanted, instead of the Razorlight love in many people feared it would be.


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