Festival Review

FESTIVAL REVIEW: Camden Rocks 2019- Day One

For those of you who have never heard of the Camden Rocks Festival, it’s a two-day festival that hosts over 200 bands at 20-plus venues throughout Camden Town.

My aim for this year’s festival was to see as many new artists/bands I hadn’t seen live before whilst trying to visit as many different venues as I could.

After picking up my wristband and press pass at The World’s End (the usual venue for such things), I headed to the Brewdog, to see Pilgrim’s Dream. This was an artist I had never heard of, but I thought I would start off with an acoustic set, and it was a central venue.

Pilgrim’s Dream – Camden Rocks. Photo Claire Stones/Patchchord News

The downstairs bar was set aside for gigs. It had three six-seat booths along one side, and the stage area was perpendicular to furthest booth from the stairs. There was room to stand, but it did mean those who got there early and thought they would take advantage of the seats ended up either not being able to see as the audience moved forward to let others in, or the audience crowded near the stairs.

Pilgrim’s Dream is the musical project of Rob Ouseley. Performing alone and an acoustic guitar, his music is on the folk end of the spectrum. I enjoyed his performance, his guitar playing was good and he has a nice voice. I will be checking out his music further.

Pilgrim’s Dream, Camden Rocks. Photo: Claire Stones/Patchchord News

My second stop was The Devonshire Arms. Performing was Witchingseason, a London alt-rock band, but by the time I arrived, about 2:15, there was no way I could get to a place I could take photos. The Devonshire Arms, or The Dev as it is also known, has a long bar running about a third of the length of the pub approximately in the middle, the entrance one end and the stage the other. If you get there early you can get to the front, and also gain access to the ladies’ toilets, but if you are late and only 5”4’, like me, you don’t have a chance at seeing what’s going on.

The music was, as expected, very loud, and the earplugs were put to use. The band had drawn a big crowd for a 2pm slot and have been described as having an “ethereal post-apocalyptic sound”. They weren’t really my thing, and maybe a crowded pub on a hot Saturday afternoon wasn’t a great introduction to them, but the crowd were clearly enjoying the band.

Weekend Recovery – Camden Rocks. Photo: Claire Stones/Patchchord News

As I was close by, I decided to hit the The SSR Stage at Kolis – The Lounge next. Next up there was Weekend Recovery, a three-piece from Leeds. The venue was better suited to the size of crowd, with the stage to your right and the bar straight ahead as you went through the doors. There were even a reasonable number of ladies’ loos (very important to scope out in London where public toilets are pretty much non-existent).

Weekend Recovery were very energetic, with lead singer – Lorin Forster, covering the majority of the stage during their set. Their music, self-described as garage grunge, was upbeat and had the ample crowd moving along. They were entertaining and – although a little less polished than I tend to gravitate to when it comes to grunge – worth a listen.

I took a look at the map and decided I should see what was on offer at the Dublin Castle, the most northly venue. The Dublin Castle is a pub on Parkway, is a legendary music venue, but not one I had been to before. Consisting of a stage, its own small bar and plenty of space for a crowd of 150 people.

Wars – Camden Rocks. Photo:Claire Stones/Patchchord News

When I got to there, the next band up was Wars, a metal band from Rugby. They reminded me somewhat of an early Linkin’ Park, with two guitarists, bass, drums and two vocalists, one who sang the melodic parts of the songs whilst playing guitar and the other doing the frontman duties and the more “shouty” part of the vocals. Whilst I am not the biggest fan of music that only consists of shouted vocals, the Wars have found the right balance between the melodic parts of their vocals and the angrier shouted parts. (I do not mean shouted as a derogatory term; I have just not found a better word to describe it yet).

Frontman, Rob Vicars, spent a large amount of their set in the crowd, which made taking photos a little more difficult as I don’t like to take my flash to venues – especially when I know there will be a lot of other photographers – but it did make it an interesting gig to shoot.

After Wars, I thought it was worth seeing if my press pass would get me into the “Ballot Only” intimate The Pigeon Detectives set at the Dr. Martens “Boot Room”. I was in luck.

Pigeon Detectives – Camden Rocks. Photo:Claire Stones/Patchchord News

The Dr. Martens’ Boot Room is a 60 capacity music venue in the Camden Market, which plays host to monthly shows. It is what it sounds like – a small, low stage in a room. It was a good place to see an intimate gig, but it’s one of those places you need to give up being polite and move forward if you are short as there isn’t enough room to give space between the stage and crowd.

I had heard of The Pigeon Detectives, but for some reason never heard any of their music, so this was an education for me. For those of you who also don’t know much about them, The Pigeon Detectives are an Indie Rock five-piece from Leeds. Playing the small venue, they were playing their first acoustic set in years and it was interesting to hear the band strip back. Their drummer had a cajon rather than a full drum kit, and the guitarist had acoustics instead of their usual electric guitars. It was a good intro to the band, and a good way to hear their music in a way you can make out the lyrics.

The lead singer of The Pigeon Detectives recommended the band on before them at Dingwalls, The Blinders, so after getting some food (a very important part of getting through the entire day, and of course get half-an-hour’s sit down), I headed to Dingwalls. located at Camden Lock, it has been a mainstay of the Camden music scene since 1973, having seen gigs from The Sex Pistols, Blondie and The Clash, to name just a few. With a capacity of 500, it was one of the larger venues used during Camden Rocks.

The Blinders – Camden Rocks. Photo:Claire Stones/Patchchord News

The Blinders, a three-piece indie band originally from Doncaster but now based in Manchester, released their debut album in September 2018. Their live show definitely had the most effort put into it of all those I saw over the weekend. Along with the on-stage persona of lead singer Thomas Haywood the roadies were dressed in black coveralls and the whole thing was well curated. The energy from the band, especially bass player Charlie McGough, was immense. It tired me out just watching them. I loved their music, and although you could hear different influences throughout, with Iggy Pop coming over most in the sheer energetic nature of their music – there was still something unique about them. If you like your rock/indie dark and energetic or are just after seeing a lively set, be sure to check them out at any of the number of festivals they will be playing at this year.

Frank Turner – Camden Rocks. Photo: Claire Stones/Patchchord News

I was feeling optimistic, so headed over to the Electric Ballroom to see if I could find somewhere I would be able to get a spot from which to take photos of Frank Turner. Unfortunately, by the time I arrived the best I could do was ask some of the people on the balcony to move aside for two minutes so I could get a photo of the stage and the crowd. The capacity of the Electric Ballroom is 1500 and I am sure they were close to that. Being short and with my camera kit on me, I decided it was better to head back Dingwalls where there was a pit of sorts and I could get some good shots.

So off I went back to Dingwalls to see The Pigeon Detectives for a second time, but this time they were fully plugged in, and lead singer Matt Bowman was let loose. Where Matt gets his energy from, I don’t know, but I don’t think there was much of the stage he didn’t cover. He was standing on speakers, the bass drum (I can feel the drummers reading this wincing at the thought of someone doing that to their kit). They were definitely entertaining, and it was a great experience to see them playing live with their usual setup. Not sure if I preferred their show to The Blinders, but it is definitely one to be experienced.

Camden Rocks – Day 1


13:30 – Brewdog – Pilgrims Dream

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pilgrimsdream/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pilgrimsdream/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PilgrimsDream

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCL8h…

14:00 – Devonshire Arms – Witching Season

Website: http://witchingseason.co.uk

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/witchingseasonband/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Witchingseason/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/witchingseason?lang=en

15:00 – Kolis – Weekend Recovery

Web: https://www.weekendrecovery.co.uk

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/weekend_recovery/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/weekendrecmusic

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/weekendrecoverymusic/

16:00 – Dublin Castle – Wars

Web: https://www.instagram.com/weareallwars/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/weareallwars/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/weareallwars

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/weareallwars

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfdVReaw1IWIAocOV8pk9qQ

Spotify: http://sptfy.com/1vYx

17:15 – Dr. Martens “Boot Room” – Pigeon Detectives

Web: http://www.thepigeondetectives.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thepigeondetectives/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pigeonsofficial/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/pigeonsofficial

19:30 – Dingwalls – The Blinders

Web: https://theblindersofficial.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theblindersband/

Instagram: http://instagram.com/theblinders

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheBlindersBand

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCr2LS8DyoZg7bwQQZC5Ugg

20:45 – Electric Ballroom – Frank Turner

Web: https://frank-turner.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/frankturnermusic

Twitter: https://twitter.com/FrankTurner

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/frankturner/

21:00 – Dingwalls – Pigeon Detectives

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