Camden Rocks Festival is fast becoming one of our favourite live events of the year. With 200 bands and 20 venues, we were spoilt for choice for who to see. This time around, we camped out in The Underworld to see all of the bands on the legendary venue’s lineup. There were stagedives, inflatable balls, broken guitars and a whole host of cracking performances – we can’t wait to do it all again next year!
ZOAX get the day off to a fantastic start and draw in an impressive crowd, especially considering it’s only 2PM. Their heavy post-hardcore influenced riffs sound absolutely crushing and the mellow moments stunning. Frontman Adam Carroll is as charismatic as ever; his hilarious quips at the audience raising smiles all round, along with his seeming incapability of staying onstage, preferring to get down in the pit and quite literally scream in people’s faces, much to their delight. There’s dancing too, with the slick groove of ‘Deer Dance’ getting more than a few hips shaking and heads banging. These guys love what they do and want everyone along for the ride to enjoy it too, and by god, we did. Just pure fucking FUN, and reaffirmation that ZOAX are one of the most exciting live bands around right now. 8/10
Instrumental electro-djent duo The Algorithm are up next and its disco synths and breakdowns galore. They do their best to build up an atmosphere but rely too much on the backing track and the overbearing bass is a little painful. The crowd seem to enjoy it but it’s easy to zone out as the songs become repetitive and mush together. Still, there is some masterful guitar and percussion work on display which is pretty impressive. 5/10
Alternative rock legends InMe amble nonchalantly onstage, each member of the band with a beer in hand raised in an upwards salute towards the audience. “Tell us a joke Dave!” yells someone in the audience while they tune up. Throughout the set, it sort of feels like we’re watching a mate’s band down in the local pub, but in the best way possible, as they’re the most down to earth dudes, bantering with the crowd and laughing at their own cockups (frontman Dave McPherson breaks a string on his guitar during their set). Amateur pub band they are not however, with a greatest hits setlist including ‘Firefly’ , ‘Myths and Photographs’ and ‘Faster The Chase’. Dave tells us he’s got a wedding to go to after this and that he’ll try and make it back in time for SikTh – we imagine he’s got the coolest day job out of any of the other guests. 7/10
It’s safe to say we weren’t quite prepared for HECK. From the off, its complete carnage as the Nottingham noise rockers seem hellbent on tearing The Underworld down to its very foundations. Frontman Matt Reynolds and guitarist Jonny Hall get cosy with the crowd and display some rather impressive climbing skills as they leave no corner of the venue untouched. We didn’t know what was going to happen from one minute or next, or whether someone was going to seriously injure themselves, but this only only added to the excitement. Fucking mental and complete rock’n’roll. 9/10
Yashin have a tough act to follow but bring their usual energy and charisma to the stage, and battle on despite having several technical issues. Pits erupt as they explode into ‘Dorothy Gale’ and several inflatable balls are taken to the face (courtesy of EMP). They struggle a bit towards the middle of their set to keep momentum going but finish on a high with fan favourite ‘D.E.A.D.’ 6/10
Due to an insane queue for SikTh that suddenly appeared when we popped outside for a breather, we unfortunately missed half of Zebrahead‘s set, but the half we DID see was jolly good fun. The rap-punkers keep the party vibes going, getting the crowd bouncing and singing along to classic hits like ‘Falling Apart‘. One of the guitarists ends their set in a particularly stylish fashion, crowdsurfing to the far end of the venue and back to the stage again whilst still slaying on his guitar. Zebrahead know they’re a party band and they’re up there with the best. 7/10
Tonight’s headliners don’t play gigs very often, but when they do, there’s an almighty queue round the block for them and for good reason. It’s a particularly special night for the progressive metallers as this is vocalist Justin Hill‘s last ever show playing with SikTh, and it seems he’s determined to go out with a bang. Storming in with ‘Philistine Philosophies’, their elephantine sound reverberates around the whole venue and gets people going crazy. Justin’s powerful cleans and Mikee Goodman‘s erratic vocal delivery compliment each other so harmoniously, it’s a shame that this is the final time they’ll perform together live. Captivating and at times mind-boggling, SikTh prove why they are still lightyears ahead of the game. Give us a proper full-length album now please lads?! 8/10